I was brought up by a mother who was the most beautiful, talented, funny, personable, smart, fashionable, artistic, athletic, and giving human being you would ever want to meet on this planet. She was also agorophobic (meaning “fear of the marketplace” or, in her case, fear of doing just about anything that came her way!) Knowing the medications they have today to deal with her kind of anxiety and fear ridden illness makes me heart break because she died too early to be able to take advantage of the help available to the mentally ill of today.
Coming from such an anxious and fearful background, I guess I always was drawn to upbeat, positive people. Some of them were even daredevils…when it came to men, that meant boyfriends who liked to jump out of planes, ski black diamonds in icy conditions, race cars at high speeds. I even once dated a Green Beret who looked like he could wrestle a bear… and probably had!
In fact, I was pretty upbeat and reckless myself…in my 20s, taking a person up on a dare to beat him in a swimming contest (when I could barely do the breast stroke!), in my 30s, doing a lot of speeches in front of 1,000 people (when I was terrorized by public speaking!), in my 40s, moving to a brand new city (where I only knew one person!), and in my 50s, riding an elephant in Thailand (a gigantic beast who seemed intent upon throwing me off his back!) God only knows what my 60s are likely to bring.
You might have noticed that I frequently write about depression and anxiety – mainly because I’ve suffered with both in spades. People who meet me might find this hard to believe – I’m usually an upbeat and positive lover of life. That is, until my body chemistry gets whacked out of balance and then all bets are off. I can become a shrinking violet, afraid of her own shadow and convinced that the sky is not only falling, it is rapidly coming down right over my head!
This is why I’m such an advocate for the mentally ill – I happen to be one of them myself. That is, when I’m not taking my meds, when I’m not participating in a community of friends and family, when I’m not practicing a spiritual way of life, and when I’m not doing some kind of talk therapy.