I’m often anxious. Call it generalized anxiety disorder, call it Annie, call it circumstantial, call it anniversary panic. . . it’s who I am.
I spent the last two and a half years trying to convince Western Seminary that I belonged there. That I was Christian enough. That I was stable enough. (Do I think I’m stable? No. But, enough? Yes.) That I have the academic gravitas. It’s been hard. I had to take 12 units at full price with no guarantee of entry and secure higher marks than I received in undergrad. Which shouldn’t be too difficult, right? I scrapped by in undergrad. How difficult would it be to get a B? That proved to be the easy part: I earned As. But Christian enough? With each year I attended church less frequently. And stable enough? I managed to show them how unstable I can be over the two and half years after they rejected me. They accepted me as a non-degree student, a trial student, essentially, around the same time I admitted myself to Good Sam for the first time. And then I had a hard time staying out of the hospital. That doesn’t exactly scream stability.
But finally, after an informal interview conducted by the director and a formal interview conducted by the director and the dean of women, they let me in. It was a huge relief. I haven’t been in the slightest bit excited about the news, just thoroughly relieved. The burden of what’s next if not grad school was huge.
Here’s where the anxiety comes in. I finally have what I have been working toward for two and a half years. But immediately after receiving the news of admission, I received news of a mentally ill child, and it takes me right back to sitting in the ER waiting to hear if there is room at Good Sam’s Mission Oaks inpatient center and all the fear and stress and utter exhaustion. Then I have an upper endoscopy, and I am sitting alone in a space not unlike Good Sam’s ER, and the fear comes rushing in—they ask the same questions: are you/have you ever been suicidal? Have you been hospitalized? Have you ever intentionally hurt yourself? What medications do you take? It’s triggering. And then I get a call saying my therapist has pneumonia and the flu—immediately I catastrophize: what if she dies? That combo could kill a person. Panic. Panic. Panic. And the final trigger, we’re coming up on anniversary months. April 1st was the day I was first evaluated for hospitalization, and the month I became hypomanic and agitated last year. April was the precursor to May’s hospitalization. Not to mention I was also hospitalized in June, July, and August. The anniversaries just keep coming.
It’s terribly important to me that I stay out of the hospital. It’s also terribly important to me that my therapist is alive and well. Similarly, it’s terribly important that children don’t have to feel suicidal, and if they do, that they get help FAST. So, seeing as these things are all on the line: a child I know of is suicidal, my therapist is not well, and I am experiencing fear over an impending anniversary, I am all the more anxious.