"I can't swim the ocean like this forever. And I can't breathe." - Avril Lavigne.
When I was 9, I used to be scared of storms.
One day we had this huge storm that made the lights go out and it was just me, my sister and my dad at home. I got traumatized and started having anxiety over storms to the point that one day, I hid under a chair at school because I was so scared. I had this fear of dark skies and thunder for good three years after that. I guess I ended up sticking with this fear because the lights went out and I was already scared of the dark. The darkness would always make posters of scary movies pop up into my mind out of nowhere. I guess I was scared of scary movies too.
Today, at 23, I can say I'm in love with the darkness of the night, scary movies are my favorite kind of movies and I think that storms are the most beautiful natural element ever. But I guess that fear and the vulnerability of being eaten alive by the big clouds of thunder never left me, because now I'm scared of the big storms of life.
It's funny to think that when I was 9 I would never ever imagine that the biggest and scariest storms in my life would come in the form of a particular person, a relationship that started as a cold breeze and would turn into this huge tornado that would put me overboard and would make me lose my breath. That's how I feel when I think about it. I'm underwater and I can't reach the surface. I'm actually out of breath right now just by writing this.
I also never thought that fighting for a dream would be the same as fighting a big storm. I'm never out of it, I'm somehow still right in between these dark clouds. "Can't part the seas, can't reach the shore". And I don't mean the eye of the storm, which is a very calm area actually. I mean right in the middle of the clouds, where you don't even know if what's hitting you is the violence of the wind or the fury of the ocean.
I've always been really good at swimming but I'm only human after all. I can't swim forever. My arms will get tired and I'm going to drown and the thought of it is enough to make me want to give up. This is how it feels like to be on my skin.
Still, I think it's pretty unfair to other people that I compare my life challenges to a big storm. I mean, what is my storm compared to someone who is fighting cancer? What is my furious ocean compared to someone who is battling Lyme disease, for example? And I know, I know. “Saying someone can't be sad because someone else may have it worse is like saying someone can't be happy because someone else may have it better". But it is still very unfair to me that I feel that way, and at the same time, well, things are the way they are. But I guess the most interesting part is the fact that when these storms take form, the first look at them is the most scary one. And you know exactly when they start. It can in the form of a conversation that needs to be done. Or an unfair traffic ticket. A problem at work that you don't know how to solve, so it keeps growing and growing.
Then it happens. You finally drown. It's too much for your ship to handle. You're underwater now, begging to be saved, praying, losing your breath. And when you're at the bottom, you suddenly remember you know how to swim.
You start moving your arms and legs, holding on to that breath that's burning your lungs but still, you are fighting the storm. And as you go up and up you remember that just like every storm in life, it will be over soon. There are no such things as biblical storms that last for 40 days. It will come to an end at some point and that's all you got to remember when you reach the surface and are finally able to breathe again. And since your ship wrecked, you have now floorboards to hold on to and wait for the waves to calm down. And they do. That conversation wasn't so bad, even though it might have hurt you, aren't you glad you dealt with it and it's over and done? And you find out that you have one more month to pay for the ticket before it stays on your record. And you have to go to work every day anyway, so every day you have the chance of learning new ways of dealing with difficult situations. The waters aren't so furious now. Sky starts to clear. The storm have passed. You survived again.
For someone who has anxiety, you always look at everything with a catastrophic look. Everything that takes you away from your inner peace is a like a big storm. And I could tell you that life is not always clear skies, deal with it, be an adult, but the truth is that not everything is black and white. Not everyone sees or deal with things the same way and for some people, seeing things through the lenses of anxiety and depression can make the bad even worse. But just like the storms, bad days, uncomfortable situations and scary thoughts have an end, specially when you decide to stop running away from them and facing them. Why keep prolonging the hurt if you're going to hurt anyway?
The main important thing that you got to remember about these big storms of life is: they change you. Most of the times, for the better. And even if they change you for worse, you're still learning with them, so what are you losing anyway? But yes, it is scary indeed. It's not always easy to keep calm when you see those dark clouds getting closer and closer. When you feel the wind changing and that weird feeling in your guts starting. But it will help you if you remember to breathe first and to keep in mind that storms don't last forever. You will survive this. Just keep swimming, keep moving your arms and legs and keep your head above water.