It is with great joy that I begin to celebrate 1000 Healthy Days! It was a long road getting here, and I truly am the happiest I have ever been. In this post I would like to talk about learning to manage my anxiety disorder (which is paired with Bipolar Disorder) and some milestones that went along with it.
The first milestone this cycle would be the decision to pick up Turn That Thing Around and finish the play. As I mentioned in a previous post, the play I had written during the episode was a one page letter to Gabe and four pages of nonsensical grouped words and phrases. I started to study this document like "an artifact" and tried to discern the writing style and what kind of information it is trying to communicate. The next step was then finishing the story with interviews of my father, mother, and godmother's wife.
The next milestone in this cycle is what Iris, the director of Turn That Thing Around, likes to talk about as my becoming the Narrator. I took a Narrator like step when I decided to share the play with the world. In order to crowdfund the production, I had to "come out" in a big way and say "this is who I am, this is what I am doing, and this is why you should join me".
More related to my condition, the anxiety was much more manageable after my discharge from the hospital: Day 1. However, it still was the biggest obstacle for me to living a fully healthy life. For an informational guide on the difference between anxiety and stress: check out the video below.
As I got healthier and Turn That Thing Around had been produced once, I decided to take a bigger leap with Iris and bring the show to Chicago. I cannot put into words the trust and admiration I have for Iris. In this process I was much more involved as an Assistant Director. This made me face head on my episode and all of the darkness in it. Some days I would unexpectedly be triggered by the memories or even spiral into a panic attack. But I kept pushing because I knew that this could be important to so many people.
It's hard to summarize 1000 days in one post, but I think the biggest milestone I reached was after my psychiatrist's appointment one day I read my paperwork. It said, "General Anxiety Disorder, Bipolar Disorder (in remission)". That idea that I was now in remission in regards to Bipolar Disorder brought me so much freedom. It was as if a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders.
With continued therapy sessions I continued to improve to levels I didn't think imaginable: I can now approach a police officer without having flashbacks, I can walk with friends at night with only a reasonable amount of vigilance, and I sleep each night and wake up refreshed and ready to go (even at 5 AM some mornings).
Today I will celebrate with a reading, a potluck, and good friends. More on that tomorrow!
There are too many people to thank, but I have a good feeling they know who they are. 1000 days behind me and thousands more to go. I can't wait to see where this journey takes me, and I am happy to have you here digitally with me.
Aaron Harris Woodstein