I walk at dawn most days, and that time alone while the world is still largely asleep is critical to keeping my anxiety at bay.
Normally, my heart fills with gratitude for the opportunity to experience the beauty of the earth at that hour. The light, the stillness, the nature sounds, the silence. It’s all worth getting out of bed for, because nothing looks or feels the same once the sun is fully up and the world starts moving.
I treat these morning walks as a moving meditation. My mind is usually quiet, and I tend to be fully present to the sights and sounds around me. When I notice I’m thinking about my day ahead, or a problem, or whatever, I try to turn my attention back to the birds and the beautiful plays of light.
But ever since moving, I’ve been fully stuck in my head. I am unable to be present with my surroundings because truth be told, I don’t like them very much.
It truly is beautiful and charming here. Take a look:
What’s not to like, right?
For me, a lot. For starters, it’s not Home. And nothing beats Home.
Next, as lovely as our little town is, it’s ninety minutes from the nearest metro. That means ninety minutes from Whole Foods (where I used to go nearly daily), ninety minutes from Target, ninety minutes from doctors, therapists, etc.
As it turns out, that’s a problem for me. I’m used to easy access to all the things I need to make my life work, and my life isn’t working very well without it. I feel suffocated by the lack of resources here. This is a fantastic place to vacation, but living here is a whole different story. At least for me.
Also, as an anxiety sufferer, I require a certain degree of anonymity in order to feel at peace. And anonymity is hard to come by in a town of 400. As a result, I feel exposed. There is no privacy.
Sometimes when I’m out for a walk, certain emotions will come up, and I like to just take a moment to sit on a bench somewhere and cry. It’s healing. Well, I don’t dare do that here, or it will be all over town that Sue Westbrook was crying on a bench at 6 AM. I’m not kidding.
I wake up in a panic every morning. The feeling of wanting to escape is enormous. When I’m out for my walk I go past the road that leads out of town. Most mornings I take that road and just keep walking. I don’t know where I think I’m going, but walking out of town feels like the right thing to do.
In hindsight, this move feels like a really bad idea. After suffering from debilitating anxiety for over three years, I was finally getting back on track and starting to live my life again. I was making progress. I was heading in a good direction.
And now, here I am in an environment that is the polar opposite of the one in which I was doing so well. Why did I think that would be a good idea? In hindsight, I should have understood I couldn’t change everything and expect it to be OK.
You may be wondering why I moved in the first place. Love is the short answer. My daughter is headed to college about 90 minutes from here, and she needed us to be nearby. Plus, my husband is from here, and he moved to Minnesota for me, so it’s my turn to return the favor.
Deep down, I think I knew this move could be a mistake for me. But it was right for my husband and daughter, so I felt my only option was to go along with it. And while I had deep reservations, I hoped everything would work out once I got here.
Well, pretty much the opposite happened. Everything I was afraid of came true, and then some. And this was not a self-fulfilling prophecy. I came with an open mind hoping for the best.
But my body has had a violent reaction. My anxiety is raging, and painful depression is coming and going. Depression is a new one for me, and I’m not enjoying it.
I’m in trouble here.
Fortunately, my husband is incredibly supportive, and once we have our daughter safely tucked into college we are going to make some changes to help me adjust. We are exploring options that will allow me to spend more time in a city environment where I am more comfortable and will have more access to the things I need in order to be happy and balanced.
Hopefully, spending a day or two outside our little town each week will help me feel more content when I return. That’s the plan anyway.
I don’t know for sure how it will work out or what we will do. But one thing I know for sure — I fought incredibly hard to pull myself out of a death spiral of anxiety, and I’m not giving up the ground I’ve gained. No way, no how.
I’m grateful my husband is in lockstep with me on that. With his help and love and support combined with my determination and grit, I do believe I can pull myself out of this. It’s not going to be easy, and it’s going to take time, but I’m going to figure this out.