Tuesday, August 24, 2010

a little help

Some people just never seem to worry. They flit through life, cheerful, not afraid of roller coasters and skin cancer. They go on exciting adventures and theme park rides and eat foods with weird textures. I have always wanted to be one of those people.

Sometimes, I feel like a fairly healthy and adventurous person, but then something will come along, like a steep staircase with no handrail, and I`ll remember who I really am: a product of a somewhat crazy, fear-infused household. A person who is only capable of doing some things like a normal human being.

There are things going on back home which I am powerless to do anything about. This happened last year, too, a few months after I first got to Japan. I know that it is just life happening, and that everyone has been away from their families at important moments, but my coping skills are not like everyone else`s.

I realized this weekend, when I went hiking with Zack and Andy, that my worrying might be more of a debilitating problem than a harmless quirk. I couldn`t make it to the top of the mountain. I was fine for a long time, when there were some trees and the incline wasn`t too steep, but when I got close to the peak, where there were only rocks and the sky stretching out around me, I started having a panic attack. Zack was trying to reassure me and get me to press on, but I could not convince myself that I wasn`t going to plummet to my death if I kept climbing.

If you`ve never had a panic attack, it`s basically a minute or so of your life in which you feel certain that you are about to die. I think I got my first one when I was 8 years old, but I didn`t really start getting them on a regular basis until I graduated college.

Most of my closest friends share my strange sense of anxiety and dread so I didn`t always think much of it. But now that I`m traveling, which is something I really want to keep doing, I know that I have to change. Normal people do not freak out during a spiritual walk in a temple (you walk through a pitch-black, silent tunnel in which you can`t see the exit as a form of meditation). A girl that couldn`t have been older than 8 or 9 climbed to the top of the mountain Sunday while I sat under a pine tree by myself trying to calm down. Most people don`t get vertigo so bad that they have to crawl down stairs like a crab sometimes. And most people can ride a bicycle without thinking that it will end in their legs being permanently paralyzed.

Anyways, I found a great website today called HelpGuide.org that I wanted to share. Just in case anyone else reading this has ever cried in terror after getting off a water slide or been convinced that all of their friends hate them because you said one stupid thing at a party the previous night. Everything on this page describes what goes on in my brain on a regular basis.

I`m going to try some of their anti-worry techniques. And if you don`t decide that I`m the worst writer ever and that my blog is the worst blog on the Internet, I`ll let you know how it goes.