It's Been A Year

-A personal essay only lighted proofread for glaring mistakes -

It’s been a year and I thought I was fine. I’ve been having very sudden, very deep dives into some dark depressive days lately but I also managed to usually come back to normal (a normal) in about a day or two, so I didn’t chalk it up to much. The anniversary was hard, the Tuesday after was hard, a few days this week were hard but my usual depression just stays around until I work through it. Never stops and starts like this. So surely this wasn’t that.

I’ve been having random bouts of stomach pain lately. My diet is pretty trash so I just chalked it up to that. But then these are sharp, piercing pains happened on days where I don’t want to leave my house. The first time I fought through it, the second time my plans changed without my input and I was in the clear, today I just forgot all about one meeting and rescheduled the other.

I’ve been listening to these 10 hour YouTube videos of wind or rain sounds to help me fall asleep. 21st century white noise machines. I fall asleep pretty easily but sometimes it’s cool to have those sounds to help your brain turn off faster. But lately I’ve been letting them play further into my morning. I’m playing one now. It’s 3:28pm.

I have a handful of friends who have been through some shit in their lives and - far more importantly - done something healthy about it. Gone to therapy for one, developed a strong understanding that you have to talk about your problems for another. It’s taken me some time to learn how to do to undo my old “oh no I’ve got this” mentality but I go to these friends at the first sign of trouble. One of my friends immediately pointed out the fact it was my anniversary. They had been there for it, driving me to and from doctor appointments and surgery. Watching me pull myself across the backseat of their car, struggling to find a way to lift a leg with a ruptured tendon. I read their message, carefully crafted from several miles and a few time zones away. They wanted to make sure I recognized all that an anniversary could bring. I gave their message a heart react and I thought I got that. Fast forward to about a week later when I’m telling another friend that I spent my 8 hour day at work fighting off a panic attack.

Huh? What correlation?

Friend 2 and I got a pizza the other day. I talked to them about a very minor problem going on in my life. I did my usual spiel - I made hyperbolic jokes, I looked for affirmation that I’m at least somewhat normal and I thanked them constantly for listening to me whine share. At the end of the night I gave them one more thank you and explained that my reactions had all been due to being nervous. My friend says they could tell. I assume they are going to point out the jokes and need for affirmation. Instead they say, “I could see your hands shaking”.

My hands don’t shake.

At least, that’s how I thought of myself. I feel bodily reactions to stress of course, but not to the point of shaking. I get tense. I’ll need to take deep breaths. Maybe my posture shifts and my shoulders get tight. I don’t shake. Except I did and I barely registered it when it happened. Why would I be shaking? This situation, while yes a Thing™, had perhaps the most minor of consequences all told. It wasn’t like going in for major surgery so specific that my own very renowned and respected surgeon had never done this specific kind before. And I’m fine from that, walking around and such, so why am I shaking at all? What do I even have to shake about?

I’m not really fine. Stairs, I fucking hate most stairs. Even at the pizza place I was thinking about the fact that one area just had a single step down but that really two steps would have been safer and more practical. One was too low to step on, too high to climb up. I lean on my right leg more now. I try to break that habit when I notice it but if it’s snowy or the stairs are a weird size, I’m back on my right leg hard. That’s the one without the man-made objects keeping me from a permanent knee brace. A knee brace that would spend most of the time slipping off - unless there are some high-end, always stay in place braces I wasn’t told about.

Late February and March means that there is more freezing and thawing. For some reason people think I slipped on ice but it was mud. Simple, stupid mud. Mud is fucking everywhere. At least you can walk on grass to avoid ice. So I’m always looking for dry, warm days in the middle of Cleveland’s winter. A fool’s dream.

It’s been a year and i’m fine. Overall my knee is fine. Stair suck yes but that’s really it. I wasn’t a fucking squat master prior to the accident so no change there. I’m fine. I mean, I thought I was fine a year ago too but then I fell and I guess I wasn’t. And that could happen again at anytime so…

Out of the personal trinity that is the mind, body and spirit, the body has always been my least of my concerns for better and worse. It’s there but it’s also the easiest to give in to because of it.  The body is reactionary without the benefit of foresight or distance. It’s instinctual but with none of the connection and wisdom. The best thing you can do is to be vigilant about that, if not actively fight against it. I didn’t smoke, drink or fuck around with boys when I was younger and avoided a lot of shit in life because of it. Never wild out, never got in trouble, always praised for my maturity because of it. Compared to my peers I still basically don’t. I also don’t understand hiking or kayaking or biking or expending any large amount of energy when you are on vacation. I never got how being really active could be relaxing, especially when it increases the chances of being hurt. So I just don’t do it much. For better and worse.

But my body still exists despite being firmly cemented in third place. A year ago I was inside an MRI machine, which unless you’ve been in one yourself, is tremendously louder and far more claustrophobic than you are imaging. A year ago my body didn’t have my mind - which was trying to remember how to walk again, how to sit again - and it sure as fuck didn’t have my spirit - which was experiencing a rage beyond words. My body just had instincts and reactions. Today I’m realizing it also may have memory.

I had my first round of panic attacks back in 2016. I still feel like I’m wrong to call them panic attacks because my symptoms don’t look or sound like anyone else’s. But since I don’t know what else to call crying heavily on a swing set at 10pm unable to catch a deep breath and truly contemplating hopping on the first Greyhound leaving only to stay put because I didn’t have enough money for a ticket, we are going to go with Panic Attacks™. I had my first one in 2016 but 2016 is now thought of as one of the top three worst years of my life. My depression had never been lower or stayed for as long. Three years later I can tell you some of the causes but I’m still not exactly sure what the catalyst was. As I type this I realize that Depression means there doesn’t have to be one...

Anyway. I at least understood where the panic attack came from. It’s a common flip side to depression. But it’s been a year now. I’m not depressed about the accident anymore. It barely impacts me. I mean, technically it was a cited reason as to why my programs were cut but there were other reasons. Some I even agreed with. But day to day I’m fine. I just avoided going out the backstairs because I saw a patch of ice on the top step but I’m fine. I’m made arrangements with my student loans because they decided to call my new job not even two weeks in and realized as I talked to them that I hadn’t filed my taxes last year because I couldn’t afford it despite what the GoFundMe for my medical bills pulled in. But I’m fi-

-… everything comes back to the accident and my body is the only part of me that seems to remember that fact.

Typing this feels like an overreaction. I don’t know if I’m indulging a reaction or moving my body up the priority chain finally.

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