Kat's Story: Thought Monster
Hi there. We’ve met previously. I was that girl a few blog posts ago that basically told you to “carpe diem” the hell out of life. But today, I’d like to introduce you to my other half...my evil twin, so to speak. The one who makes my voice shake when I shout from the rooftops that life is worth grabbing. She’s the one that’s often behind the veil of confidence, the one that motivates my almost every move. She’s my thought monster. Oh, you have one of those, too? Well, you're in good company here.
While I’d love to sit here and pretend I ooze wisdom and spew butterflies, most of the time, that is truly not the case at all. You see, I suffer from an anxiety disorder. I’ve had it since I was little. The great thing about being a kid, though, is you have NO idea there’s anything wrong with your behavior (The same doesn't apply to adults, I’m told. Bummer). I started to realize maybe I wasn’t the poster kid for “normal” well into my twenties. I’d gone through a rough transition, and I had zero idea how to handle it. I felt like my tool belt was empty, and my mind was slipping. Pre-kid, the easiest thing to do was for me to throw myself into my job and (usually) working out. Maybe throw in a new diet for fun (I know). That usually distracted me for a while, and then I’d wander into some new adventure, or new job and find some value in life again for a little bit. But always, and I mean ALWAYS, the thoughts came creeping in. I’ve had two of those major episodes since, and I’m sure those won’t be the last.
The hardest part about having anxiety, for me, is how to be present and be the parent my kid deserves when my mind is breaking down. I always looked at parents as the gatekeepers, the protectors. I never once questioned their ability to take charge when it was needed or warranted. I felt safe in that. But being on the flip side of it now, I’m not sure if I’m up for that challenge. When things go wrong, I’m the first person to labor her breathing and look for a way out. I’d like to believe that in a true crisis, I’d react in a noble and calm manor, that I’d do whatever I could to make my son feel like I did when I was kid. But even when I attempt to let my mind wander into the “what would happen if” worst case scenario, my heart will race and hands will swell. I can’t do it, it has to be buried. But here in lies the problem. As a parent, you can’t bury everything. You can’t throw yourself into your job, or run away to the gym (probably still healthy to go, though), or start a new diet (ha, kidding! who has time for that?). You have to arm yourself, and be ready to face whatever challenges life is going to throw at you. And believe me, some of them can be a real “what the f*&$”.
So, what do we do when the thought monster creeps in? Hell, you got me, I don’t know. I’m still figuring it out. I certainly can’t do what kids do and simply shut the closet door. I have to find new ways, healthy ways, to cope. Find new tools to arm me for those inevitable life circumstances so that I can show my son that life’s tough, but you got this. And mostly, it helps to have friends who get you. So, I’m happy to be here. Wounds and all.
On those days when your voice is shaking and your mind is slipping, just ask yourself, “Will the real <insert name here> please stand up?”.
Yep, I just left you with and Eminem reference.