‘Coming Out’ Set Me Free From Anxiety

 

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Image via: Alison Chrun

I’ve suffered from anxiety in one form or another since high school. I didn’t realize it was anxiety, however, until just a few years ago. I always classified myself as high strung, and stressed, but never anxious. Anxious always meant something was wrong with you, and as a teenager, the last thing I wanted to be was different.

Fast forward to my early 20s and the anxiety increased once life as a young adult began. College, work, bills, relationships; life’s growing pains were in full effect and I wasn’t coping very well. I broke up with one relationship and quickly moved on to another. I partied like most young college students do and distracted myself with goals, and piling more things onto my plate than I could handle.

Depression would sink in every so often once I realized I was overwhelmed and moving too fast. Little did I know it was depression, though. I labeled myself an introvert, mildly anti-social, a party pooper, but never depressed.

I continued to feel unsettled for the next decade. Distracted by starting a family, continued education and always wanting more more more. I couldn’t sit still mentally. If I wasn’t doing something to elevate me to the next level, I wasn’t doing good enough. I moved through life chasing this happiness and fulfillment everyone spoke of. I was sure I would get there eventually, but when? When was enough, enough?

Once my world caved in and I separated from my husband, I felt more feelings and experienced more emotions than I ever knew was possible. As chaotic as my head had become, it was imperative that I simplify my life and only do what I was able to do for the sake of not losing my shit. Life consisted of getting out of bed every day, showering, caring for my children, getting to work, attending therapy and taking my Zoloft.

To say I felt like I was drowning is an understatement. To say I was in a dark place is sugarcoating it. I was down, I was out, I was broken. Leaving my marriage for a woman, well it wasn’t received well. I mean how could it be? I was barely able to accept my new reality, but it was me. I felt more me then I had ever expected to feel. That in and of itself was confusing. How could I feel so comfortable in this new reality without ever seeing it coming?

I took my own self by surprise when I came out as a gay woman. People tell me I’m not gay all the time. They tell me that because I had never felt these feelings for a woman before, it must be a fluke, or a unique situation. Well, to be honest, I really don’t care what anyone calls it. I’m least interested in a label or trying to figure out what to call myself, because I am comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life. I am still, and that’s something I never thought I could be. My anxiety has decreased tenfold, and I don’t know why or how.

I mean, I could hypothesize. I could say that therapy and the chiropractor have something to do with it. I could say that my newfound independence has something to do with it. I could say that it’s because my self-care has increased by 100 times. But I could also say that I am living my life honestly, as a gay woman. I could share that I feel like if I never achieved another goal again, I’d be so happy with the woman I’ve become in this life and relationship with myself. I could say it’s because I’ve found my truth and I’m living it out loud.

Maybe it’s everything combined. Maybe it’s none of those things. But I feel good. I feel still. I feel like I can pause, breathe, recognize things around me that I wasn’t able to before. I feel at peace. I feel authentic.

I’m not saying I’ll never feel anxious again, I’m not saying I’ll never feel depressed again, and I’m sure as hell not saying I’m going off my medication, but I’m saying something is different. Something is really, really different.

The obvious? I’m living my life as a gay woman. The not so obvious? I’m genuinely fulfilled and I’m slowing down in the best way possible.

 

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