For three months, I would constantly worry about a mistake I made in my past or a problem I need to take care of in the present. For each week in those three months, I would think about nothing other than what I did years ago. I would worry about what kind of consequences came out of said terrible decision on my future, namely the present. Those three months happen at different times of the year.
On top of that, I would get anxious about driving somewhere new. It doesn’t have to be somewhere completely new. All it takes is a different turn from my usual driving routine or a different time of the day.
On my way home, if I see an ambulance hurry down our road, I worry that they’re coming for my partner. On the highway or on a high traffic road, I imagine being slammed by the other car.
When one of our many appliances acts up, I imagine it catching on fire.
When I first moved in my partner’s home, I worried that my stay was going to be temporary. I thought that he was going to find something about me that he’s not going to like and kick me out. For the first two months of living with him, I felt depressed.
When I have anxiety, I can’t eat, talk, or sleep. After worrying and feeling anxious, the next day I would collapse in depression.
I wasn’t always like this. It all started in 2008.
I just graduated from high school in 2007 and “Be the change you want to see in the world” was my motto. I was looking forward to going to college to become a counselor for teens and young adults. There seemed to a shortage of school counselors in the area and my best friend who was coming out gay had no one to talk to.
All I had to do was learn how to drive and buy a car, then I was off to college.
On March 23, 2008 everything changed. On that day, in one day, a house-fire destroyed our home. My parents, my sister, her future husband, and I had to live with relatives. My grandmother and my aunt were kind enough to allow us to stay, but this didn’t come without consequences, strife, stress, and pain.
We lost everything. Log by log, nail by nail, my dad spent 20 years of his life building that log cabin. He lost his home and those years that day. My mom lost her home, all of her things, and her luxury. My sister and her husband lost their home and their dog, Zoe, and their cat, Cody. I lost my home, my chance to get a car, and go to college.
Not long after, my mom told me that I couldn’t go to college. It was only then that I started to realize how much the house-fire had cost me. I found myself rerouting my plans for the future to fit the present I had and it didn’t look good. Besides my future, my emotional being was in ruin.
We all lost a lot. But what I didn’t realize I lost, more than opportunities, was my sense of security. I was the alone in the house when the dryer caught on fire. I was the one who saw the machine wreck our log home with smoke and flame. I was the one who couldn’t get the dog and cat out in time.
After calling 911 and repeating our address over and over. Still clutching the telephone, I ran out the door and screamed for help.
Heeeeeellp! Our house is on fire!
I was so out of my head.
I yelled for what it felt like an hour, but it was really just twenty minutes.
Anxiety and depression creeps in.
Months after the fire, the weight of the situation like a slow heavy rock rolling down the hill came to me. Inch-by-inch, things became horribly clear. Since I didn’t have my driver’s license or a car, I couldn’t drive. Since I couldn’t drive, I couldn’t go to college.
Worry and anxiety would settle in. Then depression would hit me the next day. I began to feel anxious, for the first time, about my future.
When I realized what was happening, no one wanted to talk to me about it. Everyone at home wanted to “move on” from the house-fire. I never got the chance to speak about what was happening inside me. At the time, I didn’t understand it myself. I was changing in a bad way.
My family members told me that I wasn’t the only one who felt depressed because of the house-fire, but what they didn’t understand was that I wasn’t depressed because of the house-fire. I felt depressed because of my anxiety.
Even now, in the year 2015, I worry that I would come back home to find it burned down with my partner still inside. One of these days, something is going to come and take everything I have again. Since the house-fire, I knew couldn’t have everything.