A is for Anxiety: Introduction

Introduction:

in·​tro·​duc·​tion | \ ˌin-trə-ˈdək-shən  \

1: something that introduces: such as a part of a book or treatise preliminary to the main portion*

Untitled

There is an ocean

With calm, blue waters, and pennies of sunlight on the surface

I dance in the shallows, laughing

But at the edge of my sight is a drop-off

A Marianas Trench

Filled with darkness and creatures unseen

I swim at the edge, afraid of being pulled under

Afraid of being swallowed whole

I tread water, waiting for the tide to carry me safely to shore

And I breathe

There is a mountain

With a winding path that leads upward 

And the view is dizzying in its magnificence

But the path can be steep

Darkness falls

I stumble

I hang on to a blade of grass

A shallow ledge

Through the long night, I hold on

Waiting for the sunlight

To lead me to safety

And I breathe

I breathe in love and light and beauty.

I breathe in prayers and hope and surrender.

I keep death at bay 

With my breath

A few years ago, after the death of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade, I wrote this poem.

This is what anxiety feels like to me. Always there, sometimes lurking at the edge of my eyesight, and sometimes staring me in the face, like a cat sitting on my chest at 5am, waiting for me to wake up so I can feed it breakfast.

Sometimes it takes my breath away and makes me feel like I will die, and sometimes I go weeks without thinking about it at all. It’s just there, like an imaginary friend that no one can see but me. Only it’s far from imaginary.

Anxiety is not a one-size-fits-all affliction, and while for some, it can be managed with lifestyle changes or medication, there are some for whom it can be debilitating. Each person’s experience is different in how it manifests and the severity of their symptoms.

This story is my story, based on my experiences. It is about what I have learned in the 60ish years I have been on this planet. There are serious parts and funny parts. I in no way wish to make light of anyone’s struggles. This is just the story of my experience. Hopefully, you will learn something, have a laugh, and possibly feel less alone.

I had no intention of writing this book. I didn’t plan it, research it, format it, and then begin the writing. No, I had a dream. I dreamt that I was writing a book for adults based on the children’s book format of A is for Apple, B is for Ball, but I was using big words instead. Like P is for Perspicacious. The thought of this book hung around in my head long enough that, one day, I decided to try writing down words to go with the letters. No surprise, the first word that showed up for A was Anxiety. Huh. Well, they do say to write about what you know, so here I am.  

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