Birthday Bumps

Twenty two
Waiting for flowers to bloom
On the fourth day of spring
Four month and four days since my dad’s passing
I am now twenty two

My twenty second year was filled with a lot of small adventures, from hikes with my friends, to my first tattoo, to chopping my hair short.  I ran away to Halifax for a week, I visited my home out west.  I had many a local adventure with my friends here in Toronto.  I even moved out of my parent’s house for the first time.  But I think the most important and life changing thing I did this year was go to the doctor. 
I have been struggling with social anxiety since before I can remember, and panic attacks since puberty.  This has always made very straightforward and everyday tasks extremely difficult for me. I have always had trouble making friends as a result.  I was unable to go to extra-help sessions in school, or even talk to my teacher after class, without extreme fear, sorrow, chest pains, and having to, potentially, take the rest of the day off.  I’ve always experienced my disorder in waves, some days, years, or months are easier than others; and some are much, much harder.  I managed to hide my anxiety for a very long time.  As a kid it was always brushed off as shyness – and I too thought that my experience was totally normal.  In adolescence I was moody and angry – nothing out of the norm for a teenager. 
After years of my closest family members and my boyfriend suggesting I seek proper help I finally caved.  In a truly emotional conversation I asked my mum to make a doctor’s appointment for me – something I still could not do on my own.  She sat with me as I told my family physician about my experiences.  He prescribed a couple of anti-anxiety medications to help me with my recovery and panic attacks, and recommended a therapist since I was still covered by my parents insurance, and the wait list for CAMH is and was extensive. 
I have gained so much.  I can now go weeks without panic - although life events do and always will increase my risk of incident - instead of days or maybe even hours.  I can make phone calls, shake hands, talk to strangers, and even ask my professor a question without needing an entire afternoon to calm myself down.  Medication in combination with cognitive behavioral
therapy has in many ways vastly improved my quality of life. 

Twenty One was a pivotal year for me, and I am greatly looking forward to what twenty two with offer me.  


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