Tag Archives: Anxiety

Take me as I am: Part 2

For the last five years or so, I’ve been on a social media hiatus. Reason being, being a person who struggles with anxiety, I noticed social media is a constant trigger. So for health purposes, I made a conscious decision to just take a break; and I must say, it does feel calming not having to worry about things people are sharing or not sharing.

Since ours is a formal setup, we agreed we would share all important documents and information on Googlegroups. That way, no one would feel inconvenienced. Needless to say, not everyone would understand an odd situation like mine. One of our members seemed hostile towards me from the onset. When discussing issues she would always shoot me down, until it became so obvious to other members.

Growing up, I learnt that confrontations aggravate strained situations, so incensed as I was, I tried to be patient with her. One time, another one of our group members commended me for being so mature about it. This went on for a while, until one Sunday when she called all members for a Monday meeting on WhatsApp. Everyone else assumed she had notified me about it, so they didn’t inform me.

That Monday I got to school early as usual, oblivious to the fact that there was a firm meeting. I went on to do my morning studies before class started. Later after the first session, I ran into her in the washrooms and that’s when she told me the group had met up. I didn’t want to seem agitated so I told her it was ok. Since not all members had been present, we had another meeting in the afternoon to be briefed on what guys had discussed in the morning.

It was to discuss some assignment, but as I later figured out, some basic requirements on how to undertake it had been flouted. Subsequently, I brought the matter up to everyone’s attention. She argued that I should join WhatsApp as that was convenient for everyone. I felt she was being insensitive towards me and I told her it was unfair for her to treat me that way simply because I was not on WhatsApp like everyone else.

Her behaviour made me realise how most of the time we’re insensitive towards other people, just because they are different. In my case for instance, I seem like an outlier because I’m not conforming to the norm of being on social media. For someone else, it will be something different. That begs the question; must we all be the same for us to be considered ‘normal’? I think not.

I always like to think we’re all different, and those differences make us unique. It would be so boring if we all behaved and thought the same way. Taking this into consideration, I think we should endeavour to take people as they are. We might not always like or agree with what some people do, but chances are, if we cared enough to ask, we would find they have some compelling reason for being/behaving the way they do.

Take me as I am: Part 1

Three months ago I joined bar school. Even though things are anything but easy, I would say so far the going’s ok. When I got there, the first perceptible difference was the huge number of new faces. That was expected though, because it was an entirely different institution from the one I’d been in for the last four years during my undergrad. Thankfully, in that sea of foreign faces, there were some former colleagues of mine and that was a huge relief, taking my introverted nature into consideration.

Ordinarily, I’m those people who could walk into a room full of people, and after the end of the session, walk out without having spoken to anyone. Depending on the mood I’m in, sometimes it feels ok, but sometimes it makes me feel lonely. Since I was a child, I have always had trouble socializing because it does feel like a task, for the most part at least.

Nonetheless, when I meet someone and I get to know them over time, I could be the chattiest person. In such cases I consider myself an extroverted introvert. My closest friends could attest to this. Sometimes they think I’m just crazy, but in a fun way. In some previous posts I have talked about my introversion.

Therefore, when I saw familiar faces from campus, I felt relieved because I didn’t have to worry about making new friends and all… However, this being a new institution, some things were bound to be different. For instance, in campus I was my class’ president for four years; but when we got to elect our class president in bar school, I did not vie because I felt I needed to take a breather. Being in a position of leadership puts one in the spotlight and I was craving some sense of quiet and invisibility.

The other different thing is that in campus we had the autonomy of forming our own discussion groups. However, in bar school, we were divided into firms long before we even started classes. The effect of this is that in my case for instance, majority of my group members were foreign faces; and, given the bulk of work that is required to be carried out in groups, it meant I would have to familiarise myself with them all.

After our first class, my group members and I met briefly to introduce ourselves and we agreed I would be the firm leader. Given that I had been the president of a class of about one hundred and fifty students, being the firm leader of a group of twelve felt pretty manageable. But as it would turn out, that was a wrong assumption I made.

See, in my former class, my colleagues got to know me and they figured what kind of a person I was, and thankfully, they accepted me for who I was. They did not try to change me. In my firm on the other hand, my colleagues don’t know me and half of the times I feel they treat me with suspicion.

The genesis of this is I told them that currently I’m not on WhatsApp, or any other social media platform for that matter. Given that we’re currently living in an era where almost all social conversations and business negotiations take place on social media, they found it strange. One of my group members asked if it’s because I was trolled, and I told her I wasn’t.

 

Emotional scars: Part 2

A few weeks ago on Deutcshe Welle TV, I watched this show about women who, in an attempt to get past horrifying incidents of domestic violence which had left their bodies awfully scarred, had gotten tattoos to cover the scars. Therefore in place of a burn or big scar, one would have a beautiful tattoo. Though I’m not a psychologist, I can say getting ‘rid’ of the marks sought of speeds up the healing process.

Now with regard to that, I found myself wondering, what would happen to people whose scars are not physical but emotional? For instance, last Sunday I was talking to my big sister and she seemed to have this evident revulsion for all matters dad. Late last year she had developed this habit where she’d stay in her room the whole day, in an attempt to stay away from him.

This went on for weeks until dad, in one of his rare glimpses of responsible parenthood, asked mom about her whereabouts. He actually sounded concerned, and that happens rarely. He told mom he didn’t support that because if she went on like that for a while longer, there was no telling what she could do to herself.

Eventually, mom talked to her about it and after seeing how concerned dad was, she stopped ‘locking’ herself in her bedroom and even started talking to him. They didn’t just dive straight away into the buddy-buddy pool but their relationship improved remarkably.

However, to my horror, last week I realised she was sliding back into that habit. When dad’s around she’ll avoid all the places she knows she could bump into him. While I don’t quite think it’s the best solution, I sought of understand why she’s doing it.

I had a talk with her about it and she told me dad is the one person in her life who has ever made her contemplate committing suicide. Therefore avoiding him works for her because if he doesn’t see her, he just might forget she even exists and he won’t have to think of all the hurtful things to say about her when he’s drunk.

See, when dad’s not trying to be a good parent, and that’s who he is most of the time, he makes someone feel very uncomfortable when they are around him. He’ll just sit behind a newspaper, purporting to read it all day, and he might not say a word unless someone starts a conversation. From what I’ve gathered over time, he usually spends that time observing everyone, making his own little condemnatory mental notes.

It’s only when he’s drunk, or has only had a little to drink and is pretending to be drunk that he starts yapping, complaining about everything and everyone. He’s been doing that since I’ve known him and I abhor it.

To be fair, I’ll just give him the benefit of the doubt and say maybe there are times he has meaningful complaints, like this one time we were all busy and didn’t get time to pull down the Christmas decorations until February.

Nonetheless, my problem is how he raises those issues. He’ll go fill up on some dutch courage before he starts venting. Worst part is, he always does wicked things deliberately with the sole intention of hurting us. For instance, two weeks ago he suggested we should visit his mom the next day and we all agreed.

Seeing as we were supposed to leave very early, we thought we would use that Friday evening to prepare for the trip which had been suggested on such short notice. Disappointingly, he went to drink at around five in the evening and he didn’t come back till around three in the morning. By then we had all cancelled the travelling plans since there was no way we’d be going to his mom’s with him drunk.

When he came in at that very ungodly hour, he started shouting as usual but since we were all asleep, he figured he would force mom to have an audience with him. Though his loud monologues had woken her up, she didn’t say anything. When he saw she wasn’t flinching or acting all agitated, he just walked to their bedroom window, opened it, and started shouting, apparently addressing the neighbours who cared to listen.

Though I didn’t hear everything because I willed myself to fall asleep so I wouldn’t hear him, the things he said were very offensive, and not to mention hurtful. In a nutshell, he said mom must be a witch because she spends so much time in prayer… (I’ve always thought praying is a good thing). And regarding my sisters and I, he said he didn’t understand what we were still doing in his house.

Like I’ve said before, maybe sometimes he has genuine concerns, but the way he brings it all up is what really hurts. I’ve never told him, but my reluctance to get married stems from this overwhelming fear I have of ending up with someone like him. He’s subjected us to so much misery, and though he’s clearly oblivious to it, I have an anxiety disorder to show for it… I have suffered from depression…and peptic ulcers…

Since I do not like dwelling so much on the past, I always try to find things which will cheer me up so I don’t get sucked into my own negative thoughts, which have become a constant companion. That’s what living in constant anxiety does to someone…Always waiting for something to go wrong…

If someone was to judge my sisters and I from our physical appearance, we look healthy and ‘normal’, because we don’t have physical scars to show for the pain and anguish we’ve been through. However deep down, we’ve so many emotional scars. That’s why I find dad’s sentiments awfully erroneous; physical scars are not the only indicators of suffering.

Waiting patiently for my ‘Lamborghini’…

It takes one tonnes and tonnes of strength for their faith, and willpower not to be swayed easily by difficult situations… and I’m speaking from experience. I think on average, the state of affairs in my life is one that is almost-always depressing. It has become a habit for me to talk myself out of stressful thoughts that by now would have had me falling into an abyss of clinical depression.

Occasionally, on days when I’m just trying to be honest with myself (my faith in God aside), I’ll internally admit that this life is hard; really, really hard. However, since my mom and two sisters are more pessimistic than they are optimistic, I try to remain positive for their sake at least, so that when worry sets in, we won’t all drown in it.

Comfortingly, even with all our seemingly incessant problems, God has showed me that He really listens when I call; so I’ve learned not to rush Him. He does take His time sometimes but when He ‘arrives’, He does it in style; so the wait is always worth it. That thought is what keeps me motivated. I kinda equate this feeling to when a teenager requests his parents to buy him a car on his 16th birthday. He waits anxiously, only to be disappointed when he receives some relatively cheap gift instead.

His 17th birthday comes and goes, and there’s no car still. So he gets very desperate and reminds his parents that all he wanted was ‘just a car’. Something he can drive to college in… He gets more frustrated because he’s wondering how come his parents haven’t noticed all the kids his age already own cars…

When he realizes the car might not be coming from his parents ever, he even stops asking for it; and it even gets more exasperating when his parents fail to offer any explanations for not granting the request. On his 18th birthday however, something totally amazing happens…

Naturally, because of the crashed expectations over the months, he’s not even eager to get out of bed because he already realized the car he really wanted would be purchased with his own hard-earned cash in the future; furthermore, his friends and neighbours already teased him for not being able to afford a car, and the ‘joke’ got so old that they found something else to laugh about.

When he finally gets out of bed sulking and generally unexcited about turning a year older, he makes his way to the dining to have breakfast with the rest of the family. At that point, he’s feeling so lethargic that nothing, in his imagination, would be grand enough to wipe the gloom away.

Surprisingly, when he’s pulling up a seat, something odd occurs to him. It’s already bad enough that he never got his car, which from his own estimation, his parents could have afforded if they willed it; now on his 18th birthday, no one even seems to remember it’s his special day. At the table, everyone’s demeanour bespeaks of another humdrum day in the family’s life.

Even the younger siblings who are always regarding him with so much adoration barely recognise his presence. Things just got worse in a span of two years, he thinks; from relatively cheap gifts to no gifts at all. Suddenly the gift voucher given to him a few birthdays ago feels like an awesome gift.

However, when they are about to pray for breakfast, the mother announces that she was unable to have breakfast ready on time and she has a meeting so everyone will have to fix their own breakfast. At that point, the teenager wants to punch something… even getting breakfast on his birthday is now a problem. Infuriated, he pushes his seat back and when he’s about to exit the room, his dad calls out, “Hey, you forgot something”.

Internally, he feels like a volcano that’s just about to erupt. Nonetheless, looking over his back, he asks calmly, “What?” He masks his disappointment behind a half smile.

His dad only holds out the key in his hand, and the teenager kinda looks confused momentarily. He can see that is definitely a car key, but he’s wondering if that’s a hint for him to rush to the store to get a few ingredients for breakfast. Then to his surprise, the entire family says cheerfully, “Happy Birthday!” And suddenly, as realization dawns on him, he walks towards the dad and takes the car key.

“You didn’t think we forgot your birthday, did you?” The mom asks, smiling because she already noticed her son had thought they did. When he rushes outside, he can hardly believe his eyes. He only asked for ‘just a car’, but parked outside, is a sleek Lamborghini, and it’s all his. He even feels guilty for getting mad at his parents for not buying him a car.

“We didn’t want to get you just a car,” the dad says. “You are our son and we love you so much, so we wanted to get you a quality car. And we knew this is what you’ve always wanted, even though you never asked for it expressly.”

“I thought you didn’t think I was ready to have my own car”, he confesses, awash with guilt.

“We couldn’t afford it at first so we realised we would have to save up some more for it,” the mom offers. And it all suddenly makes sense to him. When the air has been cleared about delayed gifts, the mom tells them she made a breakfast reservation in a five-star hotel. The day that had seemed so dull takes a 180-degrees turn and everything feels like a scene from a fantasy movie.

That is how I see the relationship we have with God. He might take long to answer but when He does, He ‘arrives in style’. So unlike the impatient teenager, we need to wait patiently… and to trust God.

Of birthdays and milestones: Part 2

Where I’m at now, it feels like the sky is not the limit anymore…sad as that may sound… As it is, I’m all grown up so my dreams do not begin with, “When I grow up…” Nowadays, most of them start with, “God willing, when I get money…” In addition to that, even as I dream, I’ve slowly learned that not all dreams are viable; so again, unlike when I was a child, I try to be a bit pragmatic when I’m setting my own goals.

Now as I turn a year older, every birthday becomes a point of reflection, where I analyse the milestones I’ve made so far, and the dreams, which like my childhood sweetheart, have fallen by the way side. Anxiety sets in, when I feel like I’m growing older and I haven’t gotten where I want to be yet.

One interesting thing I’m starting to note about matters age is that where someone has achieved so many things… climbed great heights and all, they’re mostly termed, ‘young’. However, where one hasn’t achieved much, society perceives them as ‘old’. For instance, where one becomes a company’s CEO, say at 26, society views them as very young. On the other hand, where a person of the same age is working but hasn’t moved out of their parents’ house, they’re said to be ‘too old’.

The long and short of this is that, once a person leaves high school, everything they do will in one way or another be weighed on the ‘too old for…’ or ‘too young for…’ scale by society. And that’s just how it is, in my humble opinion.

Some of the very depressing movies I’ve watched in relation to age are ‘Ass Backwards’ and ‘Lifeguard’, starring Kristen Bell. For a young person growing up, these movies remind one that dreams might just be that, dreams! But God-forbid!

Looking back at the far I’ve come, I’m not sure what I would do differently if I could move back the hands of time… and this is not to mean that I have achieved everything I would have wanted so far. It’s just because, most things in my past were shaped by people who at the time wielded authority over me, say my parents… so it wasn’t about me making choices.

However, if I met my younger self, I would tell her not to worry too much because God’s always in control; and when you give Him time and room to work, He’ll take you, right where you need to be. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a very long time, and this is the one part of me I would wish was different. Nonetheless, I believe God doesn’t err. He made me this way for a reason.

For all the experiences that have caused me so much pain and anguish, I celebrate them. Because as they say, ‘We can’t have a rainbow without a little rain’… So as I turn a year older, I’ll continue to dream, because one thing I’ve learned these past few years is that God answers prayers. Furthermore, when you seek His guidance, He’ll align your will with His, so all dreams will be like great visions of what is to come.

Of birthdays and milestones: Part 1

In slightly over a week I turn a year older. Yaaay! Funny thing is I’m feeling excited, but mostly anxious about it. Excited, because birthdays are that one day in our lives, when we annually celebrate the anniversary of our births and for most people it’s a day that’s arguably characterised by festivities, big or small; and anxious because nowadays birthdays to me, don’t just mean cake and fun.

When I was growing up, I waited for my birthdays eagerly. All I had to worry about was whether I’d get a new dress or not; mom had made it a tradition to buy my sisters and I dresses to celebrate our birthdays. I remember this one time I fell and sprained my ankle on the eve of my birthday… just hours to my big day. Thankfully, the special treatment I received for being the ‘birthday girl’ far outshined every ounce of pain I felt.

As birthdays come and go, I feel I’ve reached a point where, each year sort of signals an evaluation point. See, thing is, when I was a child, I had dreams…so many dreams, which were always introduced by the phrase, “When I grow up I want to/I will… and to be honest, it was fun. The sky, as they say, was the limit. All I had to do was dream it… the rest I would leave to God, and only time would tell whether those dreams would materialize.

Some dreams as I’m realizing, fell by the way side; for one reason or another, they are unattainable. My childhood sweetheart for instance; this far I’ve come, I don’t quite remember loving a guy as much as I did him. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in a relationship I would term ‘serious’ per se. For an entire decade, he’s the only guy my heart beat for…even on a dull day, thoughts of him would give me that warm, fuzzy feeling and the dark clouds would scud away.

His mom adored me, and she was hopeful I’d be married to her son someday. That’s the beauty of childhood. All dreams are valid. At the time we were around eight years old since he’s only one week older than me. As we grew up though, we started forging out our own different paths and a year after we finished high school, my sister invited him for lunch one afternoon when she bumped into him on her way to school.

At the time we had moved to a different neighbourhood so we didn’t see each other much; not to mention all the adventurous spirits brought to life by teenage hood. It’s usually a time of trying out new things…actually come to think of it, it’s like shopping; trying out all things to see which fit better. It’s all about self-discovery. Therefore, we had not gotten an opportunity to sort of synchronise our dreams.

That afternoon, when he came over for lunch we talked a lot, and somehow it felt we were going to rekindle things. The chemistry between us was intense. However, the next time he came over it was unannounced; and after spending some time together that day it dawned on me, we were never going to be an item again. He had changed, and I had changed as well. Simply put, we were incompatible.

That evening as I saw him off, all the fire that had burned in my heart for years died abruptly. It was then I realized I needed to move on. Interestingly, we have never ended our relationship formally. So just like that, a dream I had held onto for ten whole years went up in smoke. That, is just one of the many beautiful dreams I had as a child that with time proved unfeasible.

These jars that we are…

Ever been in a situation where you’re travelling, you’re done packing…or at least you think you have, and then you realise there are a few precious items you forgot and there’s no more space left? Normally, the first instinct is to try figure what’s not so important, so that it (they) can be taken out to create space for the more important things.

Essentially, that’s how we human beings are fashioned. We’re like jars; and as is common with jars, they do fill up at some point. So the million dollar question is, what’s your jar filled up with? Are they things which under normal circumstances you would want to get rid of? Personally I know there are so many things I would want to get rid of.

A couple of days ago I got a chance to listen to one of Joel Osteen’s enlightening sermons. It was edifying, Joel likened human beings to jars. He said that if one’s jar is filled with guilt, self-pity, anger…etc. there will be no room for good things like peace, love, confidence…

Every once in a while when I’m talking to my sisters, I’ll remind them that if one’s worrying too much about something it diminishes one’s faith, because one can’t believe in God and be afraid at the same time. That’s the same thing Joel said; if one’s jar is filled with anxiety, that takes up the space for peace and serenity. If one allows their inner voice to convince them they’re always making the wrong choices, then that takes up the space for confidence.

If we want to receive God’s blessings, then we must create space. So, like that suitcase we need to empty out to make space for a few valuables we left out, we need to empty our jars to make room for the good things God needs to fill us up with.

Empty out the anxiety, the anger; empty out that self-pity, that self-loathing; let go off of the remorse that has been burdening you…for all those things happening in your life that you don’t understand, let go off the thousands of questions which have been tormenting you; and God, who’s got everything in control will fill you with peace that surpasses all understanding.

It’s only by so doing, that we’re going to receive God’s blessings in our lives. Life’s too short to dwell on the negatives, and much as we may all agree unanimously that being happy is an uphill task, emptying out all the negatives will create room for joy and cheer.

Joel Osteen made me think of something I’ve never thought of before. In a hypothetical setting, Mary the mother of Jesus, bumps into another woman in heaven; the mother of Judas Iscariot. If you were Mary, how would you deal with her, taking into consideration the painful and humiliating death her innocent son was subjected to, thanks to Judas’ betrayal?

Most of us usually strive to get over the painful moments we’ve gone through in life. That might be a very high bar that will likely put us under so much pressure. Truth is, we might never get past the pain and the hurt, but we should endeavour to get past it; and gradually we’ll get to a point where that pain doesn’t feel like an earth-shattering experience. It’s just a matter of getting rid of the bad things, so that we can create space for the good things.

Like Joel said, we shouldn’t go through life looking through the rear-view mirror. The voice of the enemy will be there, reminding us incessantly of the failures we’ve had in life; the wrong choices we’ve made…but that’s the past. If we hold on too tightly to it, we won’t have space in our hands to receive the immeasurable blessings God showers upon us.

So when the enemy reminds you of your past, remind him of his future; he ain’t got one, because God’s got it all in control.