On Coincidences & Anxiety

I don’t believe in coincidences. I can’t believe in coincidences. I believe 100% that everything happens for a reason. Things, people, and events make their ways in and out of our lives not by chance but to teach us lessons, guide us down the proper path, show us things we would have otherwise missed.

When I was 19, I worked at Target for a few months. One night while working, I came across a Ganesh pendant at the jewelry counter. That friday, after picking up my paycheck, I bought it, for no real reason other than the fact that I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Afterwards I learned that Ganesh is the remover of obstacles. As the years went on the more I wore the pendant, and the more I wore it the more I found myself relying on the universe, whatever outside force that would listen, to remove my obstacles. I stopped taking on every problem myself and began to leave those that were out of my hands to someone else. A year ago I learned that Ganesh is also considered to be the “patron saint”, for lack of a more appropriate term, of writers. Ganesh wrote down the Mahabharata as Vyasa dictated it. And when his pen broke in the process of writing, he broke off his own tusk so he could continue. I bought a statuette that I found online representing this fact: Ganesh sitting behind a desk, quill in hand, open book in front of him. I set him up next to my computer, thinking, at the very least, he’d remind me to write.

After six months of listening to the demons of finances constantly battle with the angels of dreamers across my shoulders, I sat in a Technical Writing course. I signed up for it, despite already facing a full course load, because I was determined that I would pursue, instead of writing, the safer field of editing or a literary agent. Something that would pay the bills while I worked on my writing. Because of the varied majors that routinely filled the class, the professor assigned projects set up in just a way that students could apply their field of choice to the work at hand. As I sat at my computer researching editing, copy editing, literary agents, office jobs at publishing houses, I felt parts of me scream out in preemptive agony. The angels on my shoulder cried out, “Are you really going to make us suffer through that?” As More and more of me yelled and hissed, Ganesh looked on, quill in hand and I realized the mistake I was making. That was the semester I finally proclaimed to the Universe, “I am a writer and no other life will suffice.”

Since this epiphany a semester and a summer have passed, and throughout that summer I have been trying to rebrand, rework, and revive this blog and the other blog I run, Paperback Lover in an attempt to create a writer’s life for myself. After a summer of failed plans and ditched efforts, I’ve been feeling quite disheartened with the entire venture. Now that the fall semester has commenced, my days are filled with Creative Writing courses and blogging has sadly taken a back seat to more assigned reading and writing. My Creative Nonfiction professor, a woman I respect entirely, posted links to various examples of Creative Nonfiction and sources for ideas on the class website. Among these is a link to the blog Twin Prints: An Adoption Story. The other night I decided to take a look at the blog. In the sidebar was a section titled “Recent Posts”. The fourth post in this list was “The Blogging Life”. After a summer of clicking and saving anything related to blogging and building a life from it, I am now trained to follow any link that has the word “blog” in the title. So, I followed this link and I read this post and I learned that the author of the blog utilizes it to document her reunion with her birth family as it is happening.

Now I must give you some back story: It’s been nearly two years since I have left therapy for Generalized Anxiety Disorder (aka GAD). Three years since I started therapy. In these three years I have learned more about myself and my anxiety than my childhood of therapy and medication ever came close to. For the first time in my life I can walk outside without fear, my head held high, or low, nose in a book, or a notebook, pen in hand, filling lines with scribbles and doodles. But whatever it is I am doing, I do it without fear or concern of what the rest of the world may be thinking of me. For the first time in my life I can go days upon weeks upon months without a single panic attack something that was once a daily occurrence. These are things I had to achieve on my own. And though I had an amazing therapist and an understanding psychiatrist to hold my hand through it, those tools I largely gathered by myself, and this tool box I have almost entirely built with my own two hands.

On the other side of those three years, every time I see someone struggling with that life I have since left behind, I want so badly to reach out to them and to help guid them to gather their own tools and to build their own box, but I can’t seem to figure out how. I’m not a therapist or a psychiatrist, nor do I have any drive to become one. But I have answers to questions no one seems to be brave enough to ask and I have methods for finding the answers no one seems to have. As an English major, I have been taught to first establish my authority, my reasons for knowing. How do I do that without holding a degree?

The only answer I can find is to tell my story. Tell who I was, how I came to be who I am today, how I came to stand where I stand today.

In truth, my battle with anxiety is far from over, if it ever will be over, which I feel with absolute certainty it never will be. One thing I have learned is that GAD isn’t an illness, it’s a mutation of the mind, a cancer, if you will. The brain chemistry of a person with GAD will never be the same as a person without it. It’s a life long affliction and living above it, despite it, is a lifelong pursuit. Living a life of mental health is much like living a life of physical health. There is no one-off cure, no magical pill, it’s a lifestyle you have to create and embrace. Because of this I am still constantly learning and I am still constantly building not just this lifestyle, but myself as well.

And here is where we come to the crux of this rambling: Upon reading “A Blogging Life”, I came to the realization that I can’t help someone else with their anxiety if I can’t first talk about my own. I realized that this blog is my chance to tell my story, to share what I’ve learned, and to hopefully help someone else gather their tools and build their tool box.

What does any of this have to do with coincidences and my lack of belief in them? The way I see it, this realization, even this life I am currently leading is not something that just happened. I started this blog in its earliest form when I was 19, working at Target. For seven years I have struggled to figure out what this blog’s purpose is and why I keep trying to make something of it. For seven years I have floundered and dabbled and nothing has come of it, but I keep coming back, hoping that one day something will finally stick. For seven years, things, people, and events have been teaching me, guiding me, and showing me things I otherwise would have missed. For seven years the universe has patiently been leading me down just the right path to bring me to this place where I am meant to be now. I don’t believe any of this has been a coincidence, I can’t.

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