I don’t think I was completely aware of my problems until I was in my forties. Before that I accepted that I grew anxious in crowds, experiencing new things, and meeting new people. If the situation allowed it, I’d drink into oblivion. Instead of being uncomfortable, I would make everyone else uncomfortable.

While intoxicated, the words would fly out of my mouth with precision aim. I was opinionated, argumentative at times but not in a violent or frightening way. I made sense (at least to me). But if there wasn’t any liquor or if having any was a social faux pas, I’d take deep breaths, wring my hands, occasionally dragging them through my long hair. When people approached me, I recoiled. I was always looking for the person or party who brought me to the event. Aftewards I wanted to kick myself for being so anti-social, so anxious. “Why couldn’t I be like everyone else?”

I was late to the internet. When I finally made my first footprint on the internet, Facebook had been around for a year or two and Twitter was something I read about in the news. I thought Twitter was some sort of news ticker that I had no way of joining. But when I joined the internet, I realized I wasn’t alone with my anxiety and depression. I was not only alone but I learned there were medications that could control how I was feeling. The crux of it all was that I had to go to a doctor to get them and I hated doctors. With a passion. I wasn’t scared to visit a doctor but the process made me anxious. I went from my teens through my late twenties without seeing a doctor. My streak ended when my appendix nearly exploded in my body.

Flash foward to the mid ‘00’s through the mid ’10s. My family was gone (left because they’d had enough) and I was alone. I self-medicated with liquor. It was how I did things. After each session, I begged to die. I took sleep aids with the liquor to push it along. They made me sleep hard and wake up groggy and hungover. No death. I felt ashamed. Ashamed that I had tried and failed, ashamed that I even tried at all.

Six months ago, after decades of self-medicating with alochol, I was prescribed Xanax. Xanax and Paxil (prescribed four years before) became my partners-in-crime. I was less anxious, less suicidal, less likely to self-medicate with alcohol than I was ten years before. The suicidal thoughts continued but they don’t dominate me. They don’t push me to the edge. I know where the edge is but I keep doing what I’m doing.

Things continue to be difficult (I don’t think they’ll ever be easy) but I can manage it. Life is not about winning, it’s about how long you can stay in the game, how long you are willing to stay in the game. I’ve heard this a zillion times but I get it now. It’s part of how I keep rolling along.

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