Jury Duty Part 2: Anxiety Dance

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At 2 pm, 34 other jurors and myself entered the court room. It would take four hours to narrow us down from 35 to the 8 that would sit on the trial. Although we did nothing all day but wait, line up, wait, sit, answer questions, line up, wait, it was a long exhausting day.

I think I managed well considering the circumstances. My anxiety levels started to rise early in the selection process, when I discovered the trial in question would not be a simple DUI or shop lifting case. The charges indicated that the narratives and evidence presented might trigger some of my own past trauma, instigating even stronger anxiety. I know from experience that anxiety can cloud my judgement, so I try not to make important decisions when I feel emotional. I certainly didn’t want to decide someone else’s guilt or innocence while I was emotionally impaired. I was open and honest in front of the entire court room, and better jurors were selected for the case.

Now that I am home, I still feel a little of the tension, and the adrenaline drain has left me feeling exhausted. I feel a headache starting, and at 7:30 at night, I am ready for bed. I’m still proud of myself, though. Despite my apprehension, I showed up and went through the process just like everyone else. Once there, I also respected my boundaries.

That is the delicate dance of bipolar, gently pushing yourself to do a little more than you think you can do and knowing when to stop. Many people think bipolar is just being moody, but it’s not. The down side of bipolar is feeling unreasonably afraid, desperate, and even hopeless. For those of us who are high functioning, it often takes a combination of medication and coping techniques to keep those emotions isolated in the neither regions of our minds, a distant shadow that we barely notice. If we push too hard those emotions will surface, but if we don’t push at all our world can get increasingly smaller and smaller.

There was a time in my life when I gave in to the desire to isolate myself from the stress. I watched my life collapse in on itself, losing friends and jobs as panic attacks clawed through my chest every time I left the house.

I have also pushed myself through anxiety, bit by bit, as I built a new life, a new career, a new business. They say a little bit of anxiety is a good thing. I guess I am living proof of that. If you have no anxiety, you’re not challenging yourself. Sharing my experience with others helps me, and I have been reading blogs by others who do the same.

So, tell me what you think. Are you afraid of anxiety? Or, do you embrace it? Do you try to push through your limits alone? Or do you ask for help? I would love to hear your stories in the comments below.

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