For years I was in denial. I started this website 6 years ago. I did it thinking I was mainly “over it” and moving on, yet I was always talking about the long-term effects that the years of bullying had on us.
I thought I was feeling stronger. I thought I was taking two steps forward and then once in a while one step back. I was volunteering. I was helping others. I was speaking. I was doing everying…everything but focusing on myself. On making myself better.
It’s what I’ve always done.
It’s easy to hide behind staying busy. Not facing the demons. Hiding further inside. I was getting good at it. I know I’ve written about it. It started with a Panic Attack when I was at the end of college.
No! Rewind that. I have always had stomach problems. I have always had to eat bland foods. Otherwise, I pay the price (yes, but I won’t go there). At sixteen my mom took me to a GI doctor and I had an upper GI. He said I had a pre-ulcerous condition. I didn’t think much of it really. I enjoyed High School. I enjoyed College. I got married. I went for my job interviews. I noticed that I had some Panic Attacks. Not too often. I do worry a lot, but didn’t think that was special.
Then worry became Anxiety. Mostly about my family and kids. Will my wife leave me? Will my kids be OK if I let them…(fill in the blank)? If I drive long distances, will I have a stomach issue? Will my kids? What does this have to do with bullying?
Sometimes you discover new things about yourself. First it was little.
I started to not like to ride the train system.
I felt trapped. They had no bathrooms.
Then the bus system. Never really needed to take that anyway.
Then airplanes. They are confined and hard to escape.
Then the theater. If I didn’t sit in an aisle, I’d have a stomach ache and panic/anxiety. Then even in the aisle, when the lights went down I felt like running out.
Then the barber. When they strapped me in the seat, I felt trapped. Would feel anxiety/panic.
I worry all the time. I have a short temper, always worried about the kids and family.
All this time, I was a good actor. I didn’t show it or if I did, I masked it. It was pretty hard, but it wasn’t all the time and my stomach was OK. Then, last year, my stomach started hurting all the time. I went back to the GI doctor and had every test they could think of. Ends up I have a hietal hernia and diverticulitis. Basically bad heartburn. Should be able to be handled.
But I am a worrier. I have anxiety. I started to worry all the time, which lead to a constant stomach ache, which lead to more worry, which lead to anxiety and panic, which lead to me never wanting to leave the house. My stomach made my head worry and my head worrying lead to my stomach hurting. It was cyclical, a catch 22, a Pavlovian non-stop issue. I lost 20 pounds…and I wasn’t even trying. I just didn’t want to eat. I was afraid of how I would feel.
I get invited to speak in Lexington and I can’t go, because I am so sick. It was time for me to help myself. I consider myself lucky. I am also obsessed enough to do my research, find support systems needed, and for me, medicine to stop the pain and cycle of problem. Right now I feel better. Next week, maybe, maybe not. Every day is a new day.
I didn’t see this coming. I didn’t want to face it. But the best way to stop it is to face it full on. And now that is what I am doing. I feel like the “physician heal thyself”, but that’s the way it is. It’s time to break the cycle.
A few weeks ago I met with someone who feels their life was ruined by the years of bullying they suffered when they were younger. Now I wonder if I’m not part of that either. Have I never really dealt with the PTSD I suffered back then, even though life has been good and mostly successful? I admit it’s been a very tough year and maybe a mid-life crisis for me as well. My dad has been battling cancer all year, my son is struggling in his first year of college, and my other son is more like me than I ever want to see him be.
I want to be strong for my wife. I am a man after all. I should be strong, right? Well, this is the truth. This is why I created this website. This is the adult perspective. No one ever helped me when I was young. No one ever taught me how to deal with Anxiety and Worry and Panic. I hid it and then pretended it went away. It’s not all bad, sometimes you need to worry. But if someone noticed when I was young and taught me some of the coping mechanisms I am learning now, maybe I wouldn’t be here.
Don’t ignore it, face it. Don’t hide in your place and not go out and face the part you don’t want to face. Don’t let those things that took you down before take you down now. It’s so easy to say, but now I have to DO. I felt embarrassed I felt alone. I found out through reading, sharing, and support that I am not. In fact many of us feel these ways. Many of us do nothing about it and then for many of us, they hide in their place. Never to be seen or experience life.
I don’t want to do that. I won’t do that. I will rise above this. I can and I know that the help of sharing with others can make the difference. I hope you understand why I shared this. Don’t ignore anyone that says they are suffering with worry, anxiety, or panic. Don’t think it’s easy and don’t think it’s easy to solve yourself. Trust me on this.