IN THE BEGINNING

July 18th, 2018

Sioux City, Iowa 1956-1974

“My Anxieties Have Anxieties.” Charles M. Schulz

 As far back as my memory will stretch,  I can’t recall a day or time that I didn’t have a bit of fear riding alongside me.   It seemed to always be with me, sometimes it was less, sometimes more.  There wasn’t always an absolute reason for that fear.  It was just there.

I didn’t have the language then to call it what it probably was- perhaps “free floating anxiety”.  If I had, I wouldn’t have called it that.  Free floating is something you did on a raft in a lake, or on a cloud. “Free floating” sounds like a good dream.  Anxiety is like a waking nightmare.

It wasn’t always that way.  From what I’ve been told, I was the first one up the high diving board, the risk taker, and someone who in 1958, at the age of two, tumbled off a dock only to be found paddling happily towards my frightened parents.

Not much fear indicated here by the lake in 1957.  I must have been aiming for the dock.

Escaping my mother’s grasp as she must have known I was heading for something dangerous.  

There are stories of my older brother Norm going into our house and telling my soon to be panicked mother, “Look how high Cindy climbed up that tree”. 

When that fearsome bravado changed, I don’t recall. 

Maybe it was when I became increasingly afraid of the dark.  Apparently as a very young child, I insisted on being surrounded by a legion of my dolls, teddy bears, and other soft creatures before going to sleep.

Hugging tight to one of the legion of comforters, perhaps 1959?

Perhaps it was the first day of a new elementary school in 2nd grade, when I was taken out of the familiar surroundings my smaller and closer to home school.  I wasn’t afraid of the children, I never have been afraid of meeting people, so that piece of social anxiety didn’t land on me.  But most everything else did.  Familiar surroundings increasing became important to me.

I think it happened slowly and didn’t completely start spiraling until my later teen years.

Oddly, I performed in front of groups.  How, I don’t remember.  I began ballet lessons at 5, excelled, and continued until junior high school.  I then performed as a flag twirler through middle school and part of high school.

I may have been petrified with fear but just got through it.  I took risks, which became harder and harder as I grew into middle age.

High school graduation, “A” student, outgoing….still a risk taker, still not paralyzed by it all.  But the anxiousness was increasing by that time

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, GAD may indeed creep up on us.   And there are a lot of us.

“GAD affects 6.8 million adults, or 3.1% of the U.S. population, in any given year. Women are twice as likely to be affected.

The disorder comes on gradually and can begin across the life cycle, though the risk is highest between childhood and middle age. Although the exact cause of GAD is unknown, there is evidence that biological factors, family background, and life experiences, particularly stressful ones, play a role.”

Biology? 

It seems to be hard wired into me or became that way.  I once had a neurologist in L.A., where I was being treated on an outpatient basis for depression and who had ordered the ketamine treatment for the same, tell me after a brain MRI, ” Good news, your MRI shows that you’re depressed.”  No shit?  Really, that’s the good news? More on that in later chapters.

Was it the family background?

My mother has anxiety and has spoken about it to me.  She calls it her nerves.

My father had mild depression, though no one knew it but me.  He told me he’d had it as had his mother.  It was later in his life that he shared this with me, when we spoke of my depression, which  my brother Ted  astutely calls  anxiety’s evil twin. 

 

T

They were not only functional, they always seemed to do everything perfectly. They weren’t perfect, and I knew that, but they were damned good at holding it all together.  And they looked good all the time too. 🙂

Anxiety and depression seem to go together for many.  For me, anxiety is at the top, with depression being rare and usually with episodes that are years apart, but when it hits, can be severe.

Stressful life events?  I’ve had my share, some would say more than my share, but there have been many good life events.

But over time, over the years, the anxiety didn’t let up.  It didn’t get better.  It increasingly got worse.  And then, in my early twenties, the evil twin showed up just in time for the birth of of my only child.

 

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