Sunday, February 10, 2008

Audacity of Hope?

First, apologies for the absence and cause for concern. Bottom line is that we’re still here, we’re OK, and we’re still planning on landing this month and moving in July. (Insert heart in throat here.)

Well, there’s a lot I want to share … and I get all caught up in what I want to say and find myself unable to say anything … So, this post is a start at least. It's not complete and not in very good order.

In 2007, I deliberately took some risks in my life because I decided that I wanted to get away from a usual pattern of avoidance and then depression because I’m not really doing what I want or being who I am because my focus is on avoiding anxiety. By the end of the year, it had built up, the Big Move was looming, the weird energy and pressure of the holidays were in the air, and the darkest season (least daylight) was just beginning. Boom.

In late November through January I found myself with near-debilitating anxiety. I’ve come to realize that I have an anxiety disorder. (Of course, I’ve known that I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety all my life.) I say “near-debilitating” because I still went to work and I wasn’t hospitalized. I was in a great deal of pain and found that it took nearly all the will I had to do what I must. What it felt like was surging electricity through my veins with occasional jolts of lightening. And symptoms that I have had before (trouble concentrating, obsessive thoughts, insomnia, tears, shaking) were all at the same time and more extreme.

Also, in mid-January, Alan’s grandmother died. Although she was very old, she was not ill and the news caught us by surprise. She was the last survivor of our 10 grandparents. There was a special bond with Alan, as she helped raise him for a few years after his first mother died. It was a loss for me, too, as we have visited her annually since Alan and I have been together. Although a very conservative Christian, she accepted me over the years as Alan’s spouse, always addressing letters to both of us and including me in other ways. (The inclusion did not extend to the funeral. Mourning a loss and being a gay man in one of the most conservative churches in Texas: I guess even someone without an anxiety disorder would find that challenging.)

Alan is still accepting the loss, having difficult moments when reality hits. To make things worse, we've just learned that his father has suffered two heart attacks in the past couple days and has serious arterial blockage. Amazingly, his dad is already back at home and doing well, although he has to go back for more stents later this month.

It’s not easy to write about the anxiety issue and I’ve thought about whether I should. First, yes, I did disclose anxiety and depression as issues for the immigration medical exams. So I want people to know that it’s not a barrier to being accepted.

At this point, it’s just categorized as “generalized anxiety disorder”, although I have some classic symptoms of PTSD and I’m almost embarrassed to say so because people associate that with huge horrible experiences like war and rape. For me, it was run-of-the-mill prolonged fear/terror at home and at school – mixed with DNA and learned thought patterns and behaviors from a truly unhealthy family. When I’m thinking of what to write about this, it’s hard to know what the line is between minimizing (denial) and exaggerating (drama).

I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me and I don’t want to feel sorry for myself; I can’t change the past. What I want is to heal and be more fulfilled in my life and that can’t happen unless I acknowledge some things and know what’s going on.

Whether I like it or not, whether it’s fair or not, it does take active treatment to deal with this. I am in psychotherapy and trying a medication that is so far helpful, but has lots of unpleasant side-effects that are a challenge. I’m still not great with focus and have only in the past week really been able to pick up a book and read (for example). Anyway, though, in general, things are looking up.

I don’t expect to be “cured” by the time we start living in Vancouver, but I do hope to have made significant progress that the move will not just be to a new environment, but a fresh start.

7 Comments:

Blogger West End Bound said...

Man, Daniel, you both have been and are going through a lot. "drf" and I both send positive vibes from the Universe your way.

Thanks for sharing here, and via email earlier - Yes, we were all concerned.

If it eases your mind any, you guys will be landing like we did yesterday - Just doing the paperwork and bringing "treasures" later. Our CBSA experience at YVR was a 20-minute deal - incredible! They did not even look at our imported goods or "Goods to Follow" list. The response was that when we actually bring the goodies in, the Peace Arch crew would handle all that.

Pretty cool, eh ? ? ? ? (I feel like I can use the "eh" officially now!)

5:44 AM, February 11, 2008  
Blogger Tom said...

Daniel, so glad to hear from you. For the first time in my life I needed medication for depression and anxiety. Our situation in the US just beat me down and I was really in a dark place for awhile. I am still on meds over a year later, but soon will be trying to taper off. I am going to wait until we are completely settled into our new home first.

So just know you are not alone in this and it happens to the best of us.

Best of luck with your continued plans, Canada is a better place for all of us just keep moving forward.

6:45 AM, February 11, 2008  
Blogger MSEH said...

I am soooo glad to hear from you guys. Know that I have been thinking of you both and that I'll keep you in my thoughts. Peace.

7:42 PM, February 12, 2008  
Blogger L-girl said...

Recognizing the problem and seeking help are a huge part of the battle, right there. If that's a cliche, it's only because it's true.

Good luck on your journey, and always know you are not alone. People who care about you are there for you. Many of us have struggled with these forces and struggle still, and we can empathize.

And keep us posted once in a while, eh? :)

10:42 AM, February 13, 2008  
Blogger Vancouver Isle Doug said...

I'm new to this arena but commend you for putting so much into your message. We arrived in Victoria last October, after a 27 month process, and came with a U-haul, two cars and pets through Peace Arch/Blaine. We were both stressed but the crossing was SO easy - they didn't even ask about the pets or request the paperwork. It only took an hour because they were busy and our agent was handling us an other people, juggling back and forth. When we got back to the vehicles we breathed a HUGE sigh of relief and just grinned the biggest grins ever because we knew we were home. The border agents were quite friendly too, not like US agents, for what that is worth.

Keep the faith and all will work out just fine!!

12:00 PM, February 14, 2008  
Blogger gito said...

Hey Daniel, so happy to hear from you two! I'm sure the new air you guys will breath in Vancouver will make you feel better for sure. I too, was going to a ugly/painful patch when were waiting, and took medicine and tried to hold it together for a while, so fang hard... now it seems so long ago, that I hardly remember it. Take care, hugs!

7:37 PM, February 17, 2008  
Blogger YraBinstead said...

Don't know you, don't need to know you but I really appreciated your entry (just blog-surfing). As a former Vancouverite, I wish you all the best in that wonderful city. It is truly a good place for deep breathing!

11:35 PM, February 27, 2008  

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