I don’t live in darkness, but some days it’s hard to remember that.

Fencing in some pasture land to keep the monsters at bay

I have taken responsibility for more than I can keep in my head at any one point. I have not been alone. I also do not know how to know who will take the full measure alongside me.

The measure of anxiety and panic has increased steadily for years as more unknowns and more disasters pile up in the timeline — always just a bit faster than improvements. A large portion of my measure of recovery or maintenance involves creating a space in the day around which I can place fences to keep the utter chaos of managing that which is not manageable, or predicting that which is not predictable.

I need that space, that separation from the needs and shifting changes of life that creates huge new pathways and dark forests of unknown changes. I don’t need a deep dark pit hidden from the world. I try to create times where I can trust that the changes to be made will be mine, will be ours — quieter moments where the pain can be looked at, addressed, understood. Not just felt.

I do not live in a state of anxiety – But it is a constant vigilance to avoid becoming mired in just that. In anxiety, I often lack the focus to reach out and connect with people. To stay healthy, I divide my day and refuse to address the hordes — the impinging needs of life — in the moments I try to dedicate to people and companions. When I lose too many of these moments, I spiral downwards — people (and cats, and dogs, and …) are vital to me.

A slightly gamer take: During the day, I pull up my tent and venture into the world to accomplish what I may discover. When I rest for the day, I attempt to find a place of safety and withdraw from my endeavors to enjoy life with my companions. Unfortunately, evil wizards have cast spells that cause certain words to open portals between the camp and the monster hordes, so mistaken conversation often leads to days of exhausted battle without rest.

I’m not holding on so tight now, but turns out I already broke something

In the now – I feel barely capable. I cannot be all of the people I want to be, I cannot help all of the people I want to help, I cannot give to others enough security or assurance to meet my standards. I work as much as I feel I can accomplish, I tumble my head around to keep from being stuck on one vision, I stop to let myself heal when I remember that’s important. I have learned that I do not need to fix all things, and what I do need to fix does not always need to be immediate. I believe I have found the brakes, and I’ve learned to use them even when I am not “finished.”

I react better to perceived disaster (which may be no real disaster at all – I often plan against the worst possibilities, not the most likely). I am less likely to be harsh or push my friends and family. I can do better at tasks, understand others needs more. Fewer tasks, but much better done.

Yet, there has been a cost. Many likely, but one big loss in particular: There are certain kinds of shocks, ones without any real sting — that others are unlikely to see as important or worthy of shock — that are like a lightning bolt through my soul.

First I see dark, I lose sight (my vision of the future is brighter than anything my eyes see now). Then I experience a massive jumble of memories and thoughts and conjectures – I believe this to be some shuffling of my thoughts or expectations. Like my idea of the future is a big jigsaw puzzle where all the pieces are the same shape, and when I find an error, my mind rearranges the ENTIRE PUZZLE instead of just a few pieces. This is a literal effect for me, I can feel the *loss* of certain futures or possibilities.

I can get used to the above – It’s what I think a slap to the face you weren’t expecting would feel like. One moment, like a bandaid peeled off — even several moments a day like this would be something I could adjust to.

It never stops there – after this shuffle, I cannot stop my brain. I don’t entirely understand how most people’s brains work, but it seems like a lot of people’s brains will run down after a while. Emotional pressure, distraction, recreational substances, exhaustion — something seems to let most people at least get a break after a few hours or a day.

It takes me 72 hours.

Nearly every time — 72 hours.

If you remember that safe place with fences for recovery I mentioned before – this shreds those fences.

I dream of new disasters, I sip my breakfast as an entire new world of losses and changes and failures passes through my mind. My life – Kassie’s life – Kristi’s life – Alex’s life – Etta, Sasa, Rocky, Lukas, Luna, Toby – The Gentles, the Curleys, Kyrie & Rick, Delayne & Ed.

Most times, I can function as a human during that time – but every part of me is lessened and I cannot complete thoughts. Some few times, it’s constricting and I cannot operate at all.

I imagine that if I can make life simpler, I’d spent less time on that rollercoaster. I find that life doesn’t really get simpler.

Small things are hard to remember, yet they can hurt so deeply

Also: I don’t believe in doom, but it sure likes me

So here it is, my biggest problem, presented in the most common way:

I ask someone I trust if they can present something differently to me – because their normal method causes me this pain and I’m hoping to have less.

They stop remembering, so I try to find new ways to ask.

They stop remembering again, and I run out of ways to ask so I make a heartfelt plea. That I cannot explain well why it’s important to me, or why such a small thing is so disastrous to me.

They stop remembering again.

I feel like every friend, every companion, is just another spinning plate on top of a tree that I have to keep spinning. Every plate that falls shatters my soul again, making me wait to reform it. Every wait to reform it, another plate falls and shatters.

Sometimes I can’t stop the never-ending movie in my head of all of the ways those I care about will become hurt, and all of the ways I cannot help. And every year, there are more ways I cannot help, because every year I have less to give.

I push too hard and I hit my friends sometimes, and I am sorry

So that’s depressing as fuck and takes me to a dark place.

But I don’t live in that dark place. I do live in pain, but I refuse to stay in the dark, so I fight to stay out. And sometimes that fight makes it into my attempts to communicate, and I emote as if I’m fighting the person I’m talking to, instead of the pits in my soul.

This is an apology: It is not my intention to fight you, to accuse your memory, or to question your care. I apologize for each and every one of those things – I know that I do them.

I don’t expect others to remember the strange specifics of my communication or social needs above and beyond what they choose.

This is a request: Consider that another’s social needs may not be folly, and may not be entitlement. Sometimes it’s a small thing that becomes a huge grace for another.

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