My APE began a few weeks ago. While I haven’t journaled in a long time, it was so important an experience that I wrote it all down immediately afterward and it’s really still the best way to put it. So, here’s what I wrote:
It is 11:06 p.m. and I just had a life-changing experience. I’m going to write about it in present tense. [It seemed to deserve that.]
My parents are gone. It is late, but I have some energy. I decide to do some small house chores and to straighten some things up. I put something away in a folder, in the study, in the black box on my desk, and when I do I see my Fear cards. I wrote them many months back. I was so afraid. I was terrified about work (and many other things) so to try to help get over my fears I wrote on separate index cards my biggest fears. There were 8, I think. On the front was a fear. On the back was a fact (or facts) meant to prove that that fear was FALSE. It was a useful experience because it got me thinking more deeply, but they didn’t “work”—my fear didn’t lessen.
Fast forward to now. I am reading these fear cards and I feel…nothing. I don’t feel afraid. I don’t have that short-of-breath, churning gut, dizzy-headed feeling of dread I get when I am really anxious. Nothing. I read them and discover that now, having been working for some time, all of these fears are irrelevant. I am elated. I take out a red pen and put big “X”s over each fear and write encouraging words I actually mean below them like “IMPOSSIBLE” and “NO WAY” and “I WIN” and “I AM STRONG.” That isn’t enough, though, so I pull over the shredder and shred them all. I sit down at the kitchen table and make a post on Facebook about how I am not afraid anymore. I log off, still thinking, and all of a sudden, it REALLY sinks in: I am not afraid anymore. Not of anything. I search myself—these big things that have terrified me for so long—am I scared of any of them? NO! And then I start crying. I cry and cry and then cry harder and then eventually it hits me: everything. All the emotions I have struggled with for so long. The fear that I’ll never be capable of being on my own and having a real career and a life separate from my disorder. The anger for being so different and so stalled. The rage for being sick at all. The bitterness for the mistakes I made when I was sick. The sadness wondering who I could have been if I never got ill—how college would have gone, if I would have studied abroad. The bitterness about gaining so much weight from my medications. All the hurt. All the pain. The loneliness when I cut myself or wanted to die. It all swirls together, all at once, flashing through my head and on fire in my heart and I just sob. I sob and I know, as I’m sobbing, that I’m crying it all out and away from me. I am letting it all go.
I feel so relieved. Light. Free. And then I start to laugh. Well, more like cackle like an old witch. (I hope no neighbors heard me!) And I laugh for a while, still crying—robust laughs from all the way down to my toes, up and away HAHAHAHA. And I realize—Here is it, here is the big moment, what it all comes to—EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALL RIGHT. I AM GOING TO BE OKAY. EVERYTHING IS GOING TO WORK OUT. I MADE IT.
I have never thought that and meant it since I got sick. Not. Fucking. Ever. And now? I don’t just think it: I KNOW. I know.
There you go, there’s my APE. Aptly named because it was truly the most amazing, profound experience I’ve had yet.
Since then, some things really have been different, three most notably:
One, I met with a total stranger, a potential client, in a place I’d never been to before, not knowing anything about her, including what she looked like, and I was not nervous. I started to feel my nerves creeping in like always, but then my APE came back to me and affirmed: I’m not afraid of anything. And just like that, my nerves went away. I was confident and clear and I got the job.
Two, I decided to cut down my therapy to every other month. I’ve learned so much and I really feel like whatever happens, whatever happens, I’ve GOT it. I can handle it on my own, and successfully.
Three, I agreed to stop taking two of my medications. I can’t possibly stress enough how big a step this is for me. Right now, I take three medications and I’ve been taking them for several years. They’ve done wonders for me, as far as I’m concerned, but my new psychiatrist has assured me that while I should definitely stay on one permanently, I can get by without the other two. Guys, my remission is that fucking good. And you know what? I actually believe her. I actually feel, for the first time ever, I don’t need all the medication I’m taking. (But some still!)
In general, I’ve found myself in the best of moods since my APE. Almost every day I have a moment or two where I feel boundlessly happy and so proud of myself for having gotten here. There will be more after-effects, I know. And I’m so excited to see what comes next.
Just as it has been a long time since I posted, it may be a long time until I post again. But it’s for the best reason possible, so I’m O.K. with it.