So, a bit of a short story is in order. I'll call it "Michael's Nervous Breakdown 2012"
Around Thanksgiving something (current theory: Holidays= Time around dad w/ no escape) triggered me to start having anxiety and panic attacks with alarming and annoying frequency. Basically, I was nervous and pretty much crippled by it. Anyway, I started a new medication, because Dr. C thought that perhaps the reason anxiety was breaking through so strongly was because I had bi-polar disorder. THAT THOUGHT was/still is horrifying to me. I didn't really agree with that assessment at the time, but also knew that my desire to not be Bipolar like my Dad was very strong.
So, I started that medication and sought counseling despite the cost which had made me avoid it during some previous issues. I picked a counseling practice to contact after doing a little looking on the webz. I got an appointment and that was a big help.
In the meantime, I've been going to weekly sessions and dropped the added medication (with the consent of Dr.C).
So, context sort of achieved.
Anyway, counseling has been very helpful so far. Getting a third party who is totally removed from my situation provides clarity that I was severely lacking. Things are ridiculously obvious, but I'm trapped in my own perspective. It helps that she is awesome.
The thing that she's helped me see that I'm not responsible for other people's feelings and moods. I mean, that isn't really a brilliant thing. But it was such an "ohhhhh" moment for me. In a very simplified version of events, here's how she dropped this nugget of knowledge on me*:
Tasha: Do you think you could make me happy.
Michael: I'd like to think I can
Tasha: You can't. Even, if you come in and are charming and funny and kind. I get to decide whether I'm happy or not.
Again, this is kind of obvious stuff, but I've too trapped in the prism of being me to have seen it. I've always let other people's emotions affect me so much. If someone I care about is upset for whatever reason, I internalize it and stress about it; I take it as my burden when it isn't.
I definitely don't want to make it sound like she is suggesting that I stop caring or that I plan to do so. I care, I care a whole bunch about the people in my life. I just need to start doing it in a healthier way. I am not the center of anyone's life but my own. I am only responsible for my own feelings. So, while I want to see everyone happy, I need to stop feeling like it's my responsibly to make that so.
Basically, I need to take care of the head of #1 playa. Stressing about other's peoples feelings does nothing to help them. All it really does is double the burden. And I can still be helpful or caring or supportive or whatever without having to carry the full weight of the burden as well.
As I said, my counselor is great. She's gotten to one of the roots of my daddy-anxiety issues and it's so obvious and something that happened this week made it click and I definitely know she's right. She also gave me a brilliant strategy to try; it'll just require a little bravery on my part**.
I do want you all to know that things have improved so much from where they were at the start of this. Life is going pretty well right now. So Blawg Post
Thanks for reading
*She was more graceful and intelligent and I was less graceful and more dumb
**I'm not a Gryffindor, okay?