Living with anxiety and depression, life can seem to pass by extremely quick or extremely slow. Depending on which mental illness is at the forefront of my fight that day. I think it is hard for some people to understand that I live with BOTH illnesses every day. Good days are great but that doesn’t mean my illnesses have simply gone away for the day. I’m still fighting. I’m still at war with myself. I still take my medication every day, good day, or bad day, it doesn’t matter. I could do the same thing every day and I would still have difficult days. Routine is good, and helpful but I have found that if I rely on a routine TOO much, I can really struggle when something changes or happens unexpectedly. Cue intense panic. So, routine is good…but too much routine can make life rough. Finding a balance is key to living your best life. And believe me THAT isn’t easy.
I know I haven’t blogged in a while. Life officially caught up with me and I was burnt out. I needed rest and experienced brain fog. I felt like I was living in slow motion and everything I did took every ounce of energy I had. I went from being in school to failing the course I was taking. I went from having a good social circle to cutting off people who played vital roles in my life. Those people who promised they would always be there for you but then they leave when your entire world gets flipped upside down. With no warning, or explanation. Just *poof* gone. I was absolutely devastated, heartbroken and felt abandoned in so many ways. I learned the hard way, that sometimes you have no one else to rely on but yourself. I got used to not texting “friends” when I was having a bad day. I cried myself to sleep in silence. I wiped away my own tears. I picked my own self up off the damn floor, after being knocked down too many times. I dealt with self-harm thoughts by myself. I won’t lie, one night I ended up biting my finger so hard it left teeth marks in my skin for a while. I did this so my body would feel physical pain and not the emotional, psychological pain I was experiencing at the time. I haven’t done it since. But during the last couple of months, I felt like all I had was me.
Some people can thrive on their own, and I do too in certain instances. But some days getting lost and then stuck in your negative thoughts can be all consuming. Do you know what it’s like to be afraid of your own mind? And the negative spiral of thoughts it can take you down? I fight every single day to overcome my depression and anxiety. I have days where it takes me all day to convince myself to shower. All damn day because the thought of gathering the energy to do so is exhausting. Do I feel better after a shower? Absolutely. It is just hard sometimes to remember that.
Since I am being brutally honest, I have lost count how many times in the past year that I have said “I hate myself” or “I strongly dislike myself” or “I hate my brain”. And I wish with everything I have that I didn’t have those thoughts or feelings. I know how special I am, how lucky I am and how loved I am. But living with a mental illness isn’t easy. I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone. I always try to remind myself that living with anxiety and depression has made me a better person. I am compassionate, understanding and accepting. (I almost cringed writing those nice things about myself.) Because well…anxiety and depression. I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I am working on treating myself like I treat my best friend. I wouldn’t say most, if any of the ugly, negative things I tell myself. I am working on doing things for me and not for others. Putting myself first. I am no longer afraid to cut people out of my life. I am no longer afraid to walk away from something that isn’t serving me or making me happy.
Because my circle of friends has changed over the past year, I find myself feeling lonely a lot. I know that I am never alone, and I do have people who care and love me. I have been burned too many times after opening up to someone about my struggles with mental illnesses. It’s not easy to let people in on what you live with daily. Or let someone see you vulnerable. Occasionally, they begin to see my illnesses first instead of me. Or they treat me differently because I am “different”. Yes, I take medication daily. I see a psychiatrist, and work with a specialized therapist. It is hard for me to hold down a job. Change is difficult for me to process. I fidget all the time. I ask a lot of questions. I overthink, overpack and overanalyze. I hate surprises and stereotypes. I recently had a conversation where someone told me they had a question for me. I said sure, ask away. They then asked me if I had depression or anxiety. It caught me off guard. But I am very open about it, so I responded saying “yes, both”. They then proceeded to tell me that they thought so from the short conversation we had…and then proceeded to tell me they were “good at detecting that kind of stuff” …I couldn’t believe it.
One, I am not a mystery that needs to be solved or “detected”.
Two, I am not my diagnosis
And three, WTF.
I let the comment go, as I had a feeling in my gut that if I tried to explain why I found it so wrong and hurtful it would fall on deaf ears. I’ve learned to choose my battles wisely. I can’t help but look back at the conversation now and laugh. Like, wow…someone who didn’t know me could detect my invisible illness while talking over the internet. I don’t even know what that means…”detecting that kind of stuff”…My illness is “stuff”? Can they see the chemical imbalance in my brain? Can they read my mind? The comment still bugs me. Would this person ask someone if they had diabetes? Because they could detect it… Or cancer because they could detect it?
I’ve learned to choose my battles wisely. That some people will get it and some people won’t. Now, I have added it to the list of things people have said to me regarding mental health and mental illness. You’d be SHOCKED at what I have seen and heard. The only way to learn is to ask questions. I have no problem explaining what my life is like, if I know the other person genuinely wants to know and learn. Everyone is different and what I may deal with daily doesn’t necessarily mean that someone with a similar diagnosis also deals with it.
Reach out when you need to.
Pick yourself up when you need to.
Ask someone to listen when you need it.
Ask for help when you need it.
Never stop fighting.
“Good at detecting that kind of stuff?” Oh dear lord…
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Right???? I had to re-read the message 4 or 5 times.