One key part of the dysfunction in my life is my frequent bouts of anxiety. It is a demon I have been grappling with since I was a child. I can often see the lack of logic in how I am feeling, I can even play defense attorney for my mind. But no matter how much reason I pump into my brain I am never able to immediately halt the physical and emotional manifestations of my disorder. Part of me wonders if I am supposed to understand it, or if I am simply to go about what I’ve been doing – arguing against and fighting that bitch until the feelings pass. The good news is they will. If there is one thing my anxiety has taught me it is the completely transient nature of emotions.
My relationship with anxiety has been ongoing for years; I do not recall a time she was not present in
my life. She is somehow both apart of my identity and something I run from. A long time
ago I carved a hole in my mind for her, she is always there to react but not necessarily present in my day-to-day life. Anxiety and I have an on-again-off-again relationship that hinders my very being sometimes, but it also gives me a greater appreciation for stability when I find a way to escape her clutches. I accept that she is the Queen of Hearts I’ve been dealt and sometimes she does overthrow my life and lay siege to my kingdom (totally running with this not fully formed medieval metaphor, you guys).
There have been many times my husband has found me crying on the floor of our closet, or struggling to catch my breath on the floor of our bathroom (apparently I LOVE floors mid-anxiety attack). These are the moments that anxiety overpowers me, but there are also times I come out victorious. The only person who never wins in these situations is my husband. I’ve often asked him how he deals with it. His response is usually “exceptional handling babe”.
For those of you who are like me, having basically zero knowledge of computer languages/concepts whatsoever and refusing to learn any, exceptional handling essentially means: computers normally follow a certain execution style but there are exceptions that force them to change how they react. My husband is a logic freak, the meanest thing I have probably ever said to him is that he can be robotic. It comes in handy when he’s talking to computers (I think that’s what software engineers do, don’t quote me!) but when it comes to anxiety it is the exact opposite of helpful. Yet, this beautiful and completely rational human being, has figured out how to use exceptional handling when my anxiety rears its ugly head. Instead of trying to force my anxiety to see logic he loves me, and holds me until it passes. He looks at my anxiety as a small piece of me, an exception to prepare for, but not something that takes away from me.
For someone who looked at her mental illness as a monster to hide from for a long time, finally seeing it as an exception is liberating. My anxiety might impact my responses but I can alter my execution of it. An exception will not destroy my life, and with the help of my insanely reason driven husband I am finally starting to see my relationship with it differently. Therapy also does wonders!
Side note, I feel like my husband will either be incredibly proud by my use of exceptional handling in this post or will tell me I explained it COMPLETELY wrong. Either way, anxiety is somehow way less confusing than fucking computers. And maybe one day I’ll figure out how to erase its faulty code (?) instead of it being an exception in my life. For now though, I am just happy I’ve finally figured out a way to deal with anxiety instead of letting it overthrow my monarchy. Bonus points for bringing it back to the medieval metaphor!