Sometimes I Forget
One of the best things about recovery is the moments when I forget I have anxiety. The moments when I don’t think about it. The moments when I feel like a person with a fully healthy brain.
It’s been almost six years since I was diagnosed and my progress in those years has been astounding. I don’t recognize the person I used to be and that’s a wonderful thing. And sometimes I do forget what I used to be like and the things I used to think.
Sometimes I forget that I couldn’t read out loud because I’d stammer and stutter and skip words or lines. Or that I’d count paragraphs to figure out which one I’d have to read so I could practice it in my head.
Sometimes I forget that I spent weeks worrying about a two minute presentation. Or that I’d cry the night before them. Or that I’d be left shaking after them.
Sometimes I forget that I was the little girl in kindergarten who pretended to sleep through play time so my friends wouldn’t hate me forever if I “played wrong.”
Sometimes I forget that I used to get so worked up over tiny things that I’d curl into a ball and shut down for hours.
Sometimes I forget that going anywhere by myself used to require hours to days of mental preparation.
Sometimes I forget that I used to cry when I came home from work. Or that I once had a full-blown anxiety attack in the stockroom at work. Or that I used to take the medication I have for anxiety attacks before every shift.
I forget the hours I spent worrying about nothing. I forget that I used to practice saying “here” in my head during attendance. I forget all the fear I felt everyday because it simply isn’t constantly present anymore.
I forget because I can go shopping alone now. I forget because two days ago I went by myself to pick up an item I bought on Facebook marketplace. I forget because I’ve gone into a store I’d never been in before and asked an employee for help.
I forget because I can get through busy shifts with only minor hand shaking and a vague sensation of being unable to breathe.
I forget because I’ve laughed loudly in front of people I hardly knew. I forget because I can make small talk, even if I don’t enjoy it.
I forget because I use a debit card instead of cash at gas stations now (I don’t know why this used to freak me out). I forget because I don’t look at my feet wherever I walk. I forget because I’d sing along to my music on the way to work.
I forget because I have the confidence I never thought I’d have.
Which isn’t to say my anxiety is gone. That’s far from true. There are times when I feel it and remember all the things I often forget.
Like when I missed a turn while driving last week and instead of turning around, I drove two blocks out of my way so I wouldn’t look lost to other drivers.
Or when I wasn’t sure a store was open last month and Googled the hours while sitting in the parking lot instead of walking up to the door for fear of looking stupid.
Or when I spent over half an hour looking for a company’s email address so I wouldn’t have to call them.
Or when I asked a guest at work if their order was for “dine out or carry in” and they laughed (not even meanly) and I thought about it the rest of the shift.
But most of the time, I’m able to forget. I’m not constantly aware that I have anxiety and I spend most of the day living instead of worrying. If you’d told 16-year-old me that would happen, she never would have believed you.
But it’s true. It’s true and it’s wonderful. And I truly believe that if I could get to where I am today, so can anyone else.