A few weeks ago, my friend Vicky came to visit me for the day. A friend of mine from high school, she still lives in the same town where we grew up. When it came time for her to leave, I decided to go home and visit my dad for a surprise visit.
For the first time in…well, YEARS, I drove a car — alone — along the back country highway that connects me to my hometown of Kingston, PA. Vicky followed behind me, just in case, and promised to pull over if I flashed my brakes for help.
The lack of cell phone reception and the disappearing evening sun had me nervous, but I did it. I made it to my father’s house. Knowing that Vicky was driving right behind me was so crucial to me surviving the trip without issue.
And when I drove back to the lovely little town of Williamsport in which I reside, I did…okay. I was completely alone and I tried desperately to NOT think about that fact.
I made it about 3/4 of the way before I panicked.
But I guess that’s better than only making it 1/2 of the way, right? Or even just 1/4 of the way.
Enough about fractions. I’m still struggling, but I’m proud. I’m proud of myself. It used to take a gigantic accomplishment to feel any sort of pride in myself or in my abilities — I mean, I grew up as one of those fancypants “Honors” students who scored superhigh on my kindergarten IQ test, so I took many of my life’s successes for granted — but now, I’m starting to measure even the teeniest wins. Panic disorder is part of my life now. There’s no use in trying to deny it and trying to push myself to conform to my old standard of “normal”.
Recovery takes time. It’s a slow process, and in this age of superfast internet and remote controls and drive-thru food, I think we sometimes forget what “slow” really means. There’s no quick fix for big problems — despite what any late-night infomercial product peddler will claim. A juicer won’t fix your nutrition overnight. A miracle acne product won’t transform your skin into silk after one week.
And anxiety and panic? Improvement is slow, and not always steady. But the improvement is measurable.
So don’t forget to stop, reflect, and measure it.
If you missed the first half of this post, you can find it here.