Harry Potter and the Overwhelming Anxiety Disorder

Hey, wanna hear something I’ve been really ashamed about?

In the fall I bit off more than I could chew school-wise. My independent study project was to write an article including literature review and pilot study, ready for submission to academic journals. The three graduate courses I’ve taken have been fantastic, but I am not ready to conduct a literature review, do a pilot study, and craft an article ready for peer review.

Mid November I withdrew from the course. And felt like the biggest loser on the planet. When I fail the anxiety convinces me that I will never succeed at anything ever again. That I am lazy and pathetic and a burden to my family. That the faculty in the department I would like to eventually matriculate into will think I am a waste of time who doesn’t live up to commitments. That if I don’t eventually write about it I am trying to trick people into thinking I am much more together than is the case.

It was a bad fall for anxiety. Every fall is a bad fall for anxiety. But the way that I fell apart the week after Thanksgiving showed both me and Z that I’d been handling it really well. Funny how completely falling apart will do that.

I hated myself. I hate myself. I was sure all my friends hated me. When I was in public, especially at the crowded grocery store I felt everyone’s eyes on me, felt their pity and disgust. I cried. A lot. At bedtime I started rereading the Harry Potter Series. And more times than not a Harry Potter movie was playing on the TV in our house.

The uptick in Harry Potter activity is a dead giveaway that I am unwell. Over the last month while making dinner I’ve broken down in tears again and again. Z will hold me and stroke my hair and murmur, “Do you want to watch Harry Potter and cuddle after the boys are in bed?” And I will nod and cry even harder, relieved that he is there to take care of me and ashamed that I need the care at all.

The next three months are the worst for me each year. After the holidays winter in Syracuse drags on forever. Feeling this shitty right at the start is pretty terrifying. I’ve started avoiding mirrors. Convinced that I look like a man, and much older than my age. Questioning my staunch no makeup stance. Worrying that when people meet me they pity Z for being married to someone so plain. I’ve been unable to bite back disparaging comments about myself when among friends, clearly making them uncomfortable.

I want to disappear, but my body feels huge and ungainly. It takes up too much space wherever I am. My body swells, making my fingers clumsy, filling in my windpipe, cutting off the air to my lungs and making me feel lightheaded.

I know. You know. You know all this. I’ve told you before.

Why do I write the same blog post every few months? Because this is chronic mental illness. It’s not fun to read about. It is certainly a drag to have to read about over and over. But a lot of people live this way and are too ashamed to talk about it. That sucks most of all.

So in the words of Professor Quirrell, “TROLL in the dungeon! Thought you ought to know….”

the wand chooses the wizard

This fall we gave my nephew the first two HP books for his birthday. My sister is reading them to him, the series is new to both of them and my sister is enjoying as much as G is. For Christmas I made him a Gryffindor scarf and Z made him a wand.

harry potter legos

Sadly, HP legos haven’t been made for several years. Our friends got ahold of a box and give them to us. T and I had so much fun putting it together.

goodbye grandma and grandpa

My Mom texted me this the other day. She took it as my parents were pulling out of our drive after their Thanksgiving visit.

 

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9 thoughts on “Harry Potter and the Overwhelming Anxiety Disorder

  1. 1) I think you are beautiful.
    2) I think Z is lucky to be married to you, just as you are lucky to be married to him.
    3) I don’t wear makeup either. I see it as a sign on confidence.
    4) My daughter suffers from anxiety. Hearing how it feels for you helps me to understand her better.
    5) I love your blog.

    • Leeann,
      1)That is really nice. I promise I’m not fishing for compliments, rather how I feel about myself physically is a marker of how anxious I am, much like my reliance on Harry Potter, or needing more sleep, or being paranoid, or thinking I have a terminal illness. Sometimes I don’t even know the anxiety is bad before I realize all the other stuff is going on with me. Maybe your daughter has some of the same “tells”?
      2) He does put up with a lot….
      3) Ha! love it!
      4) I am sending her good thoughts. She is lucky to have a Mom who wants to understand what is going on. That is so huge. So huge.
      5) Thank you for reading!

  2. I hate that you go through this often, but i really appreciate that you continue to write about it. As much as it feels like the exact same thing each time, it really isn’t, nor are your posts identical. The differences are quite telling and interesting. One of my favorite English teachers at Robinson (Jr High – Dynamite Dick from Tear Ass Crick) used to say “repetition implies pattern and pattern implies theme”. He always said it three times. Knowing what your triggers are, knowing what behavior patterns to watch out for, learning how to respond, seeing where you triumph and where you have less success – these are all really important things, and really important for you to share, not just for your own sake but for all those who read and rely on your insight to help them understand themselves and their loved ones.

    I repeat this piece a little differently every time as well. I know you are not fishing for compliments, but that won’t stop me from giving them. I also still find you beautiful Karen.

    Ladies who wear no makeup are tops in my book. I love the way all of you look without all that crap on, and for those who have not learned this yet, it tastes bad. What if someone wants to lick your face?

    • Are you a fan of Sherlock? The licking your face bit reminded me of the final episode of season 3. If you haven’t watched, check out the whole series. I have a feeling you will love it.

      And thank you, Nick. Thank you so much. I’ve been meaning to come back here for days to respond to your comment and I have sort’ve been too upset about my current mental state to face the post again.

      Thank you for your support and kindness and any reference to Robinson Secondary. It means so much to me.

  3. Hello,
    I don’t suffer from chronic mental illness, but I’m married to someone who does, so I know a little bit about what you and your family are going through. Please know I’m thinking of you and hoping these next few months are better than you fear. And the thing about feeling guilty that your husband has to take care of you – my guy says that, too. He feels awful guilt that I married someone with depression. But here’s how I see it. It’s an honor to take care of someone I love, to be his bedrock when he needs it. And there will always be times ahead when the roles are switched. I imagine maybe your Z feels something like that.

    • You are doing serious hard work by caring for someone who suffers from depression and I admire the hell out of you.

      Thank you for your kind comment. I hope that both your husband and I are able to return the favor of supporting you and Z in the future.

  4. It’s so good that you can still value the people who love you when you feel unloveable. I start thinking there’s something wrong with them for loving me in the first place. Then feel like I’m a tiny speck on an ocean of terror.

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