Anxiety isn't completely new to me. It has popped up from time to time in my life, usually in a time of immense stress or pressure, like when my dad disappeared or times of extreme financial hardship. I've had two panic attacks. Mental illness is as prominent in my family as bushy eyebrows. It's not surprising to me that I would be prone to it. But now? When I have a house, a good man, a puppy, a job and health insurance? I'm not sure I've ever had all of those things at the same time, but I still wake up every night with a chest so tight that I can barely swallow.
I was told that it would happen in this job. People do one of two things when they hit the Wall of Reality, as I like to call it: fight through the anxiety and emerge on the other side a few months later hardened and cynical, or leave. See, humans aren't supposed to be cognizant of every reality of the human condition. It changes how we see strangers, and, even more disturbing, it changes how we see those we love. It has pressed every stress/trust button that exists inside of my brain, and now I'm starting to feel broken. I read every case filed in King County with a victim, which means I know exactly how victims are treated in the justice system (hint: not great), and I know what types of actions I can take to prevent myself from ending up on my own desk. The biggest and hardest lesson I have learned, though, is that no matter what I do, it will never, ever be enough. Reading true crime in my city is not a way to stay sane and make a living at the same time.
So what do I do? Not sure, but the anxiety has been at my knees for a couple of months now and continues to rise. I can tell you this much- I'm not interested in learning how to breathe underwater. Here's what I know: I'm not cut out for the emotional strain that comes with social services. I like people, and I would like to continue doing so. In some ways, this is a great relief- knowing something concrete about myself is comforting, but presents no solutions.
While I concentrate on finding something new, I am going to put my good health insurance to use and get some tools to deal with the weight on my chest. I'm going to see movies. I'm going to take weekend trips with friends whenever possible. I'm going to continue dancing. Mostly, I'm going to try to laugh more often than is necessary.