Sunday, May 29, 2005

My Own Basket

I have struggled with depression, anxiety, and anger my entire life. I was diagnosed my freshman year of college as having an anxiety disorder. My depression was so fierce that year that I was physically unable to sleep at night. I would sleep from about 5 in the morning till about 4 in the afternoon and repeat. I missed a lot of classes that year as one would expect living a nocturnal lifestyle.

They put me on zoloft. I transferred schools and started over.

The zoloft helped although I continued to deal with misplaced anger and a strong need to be surrounded by people. I am an extrovert and have been all of my life. I get energy from being around people unlike most introverts who get energy from being alone. I thought this was an okay way to live life and continued doing so. Until I met Dustin.

Dustin was a recovering alcoholic and a student at my second college (and what eventually became my alma mater). Dustin and I had a hard and fast romance. In total I believe we only dated for 7 months, but those seven months nearly left me dead.

I felt an overwhelming need for him. I allowed myself to put all of my eggs in his proverbial basket. Unfortunately his basket was full of his eggs and he seemed to drop my eggs a lot. I needed him to MAKE me happy. He needed addictions to make him feel human. All in all bad mix.

We eventually broke off our tumultuous and dangerous relationship leaving me in the psych ward and him off the wagon. I started having anxiety attacks at this time in my life. Hyperventilating, sweating, sobbing, out of control anxiety attacks. I had them conveniently enough when I wanted something from someone. If I wanted attention, affection, reactions, anything. I didn't know this at the time. All the doctors told me I had a real chemical problem and not to blame myself.

But the little girl inside knew what the truth was and she didnt admit it until today.

My dad who struggles with real depression and anxiety asked me what my anxiety attacks were like and how I got over them. That's when I said, "I decided to stop having them." He couldn't grasp how someone would do this and that is when I confessed that I believe that everytime I had them was for a reaction. I wanted to be held, or told that they loved me, or whatever it was. The reason I know this for sure is that several times during my "anxiety attacks" I would KNOW that I could stop if I wanted to. I also never had them alone... always when people were around preferably men who I had interest in or was dating.

I made a decision one day that I wouldn't use this manipulative stuff to get what I wanted anymore. This decision coincided with the beginning of my relationship with Mr. M. I didn't want these attacks to be the reason he said I love you or the reason he held me. I wanted him to do those things on his own, because that is the only true way.

When I first started dating Mr.M I saw that I was beginning to try and put my eggs in his basket. Mr. M did something very important when I first tried to reach my little egg filled hand into his basket and drop one in. He put the lid on it. Closed it... sealed it tight. From the beginning his stance was, "I don't MAKE you happy, YOU make you happy." At first I thought this was insanity! What do you MEAN you don't make me happy! You're my boyfriend! It's your JOB to make me happy.

Then I realized I had to live with myself when I was alone. On the weekends Mr. M works and I have to be alone all weekend. At first... I of course was myself... and dreaded the weekends. What will I do with my time? How can I ensure that I'm never alone for longer than a half hour? Who can I call? How can I schedule every last minute.

Then ... I got pissed. I got pissed at myself for not learning how to be alone and feeling comfortable in my own skin. I took up hobbies and found classes. I began singing again. I learned how to decorate cakes and bake all kinds of goodies. I learned how to plant seeds and watch them grow into full plants.

It wasn't till today that I realized that I am the happiest I've been in my life. Mr. M is not the person who makes me happy but he is the man who showed me how to do it. He showed me how to be responsible for my own happiness and to take care of my own mental health. He taught me that being happy is my responsibility and my duty to myself and my family/friends.

I finally have my very own basket with all my fragile eggs nestled warmly inside.


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