Anxiety and depression: mental health week 2015

I've racked my brain for days on how to write this post. I can't find the words. It feels so raw, like I'm being exposed. Which is how I know I have to write it.

I joke often about my anxiety. Or I at least try my damnedest to find the upside. Find the good. Gratitude. Rain to rainbows. But to be honest, it's so far from being that simple.

Anxiety is my shadow. Anxiety is the toxic best friend I can't shake. Constant. Consuming. It is the absolute worst part of my life.

Except for when she brings her favorite distant cousin to visit; depression.

It is rare for someone with anxiety to escape the grips of depression, and I am no exception.

Depression is the very worst part of my life.

I don't mind talking about my anxiety. Anxiety is quirky, and played the right way, it can seem almost cute in an eccentric way. (That's probably not true, but let me believe it, okay?)

But depression isn't cute. There's nothing cute about the girl who had to promise herself a trip to her favorite coffee shop if she just got up and brushed her teeth today. There's nothing cute about a friend texting you, "I'm worried about you."

I know there's no reason for anyone to be worried. I know I will come out the other side. I always do. Depression is rare for me. Like I said, distant cousin. A rare visitor that is never wanted, but has to have room made for her every once in awhile.

But when I make that room, looking at myself is hard. The swollen eyes that just can't stop crying. The wanting to avoid everyone. Seeing a childhood picture of myself and breaking down because that poor girl had no idea that at some point in her life her brain was going to decide she wasn't going to be allowed to "just be happy" ever again.

No one's ever been privy to this side of things, because it happens so rarely. Thank God. But lately people have seen more of my anxiety. It comes out when life gets too tricky. When I start dating someone. When something I can't control, like my car breaking down, happens. When my birthday and the holidays roll around and I realize, another year has passed, and I still don't know what my life is about.

All of these things happened at one time this year. Hello, December. That damn other shoe. Always dropping.

And the more I've thought about it, the more I've been wanting to find a way to help people understand what goes on in my mind every day.

But the truth is, I can't. I can't explain it because there is no explanation.

I don't know why getting a text message with a different tone to it can send me into a spiral of confusion. Probably because it means I ruined something, as usual. After all, most of the time when I talk about relationships I hear, "Oh, God. What did you do?" Because I clearly fucked it up. Because I'm the fucked up one.

I don't know why sometimes walking into work makes my hands shake. Maybe because my brain is telling me that I probably screwed a lot of things up and this place would be much better off without me and no one wants me there, anyways.

I don't know why I can't just "go with it." Why I need to know details and who and where and when and what may or may not happen before and after. Maybe because I need to have an escape route planned for when I've had too much.

I don't know why there are days that I can't say hi to people who I know love me. Because my brain is telling me that they don't love me. That if I open my mouth I will just embarrass myself or them, so just shut up and keep my head down.

I don't know why I can't just stop thinking. Why watching TV or reading a book doesn't help the thoughts to fade away. Probably because there's just so much more I could be doing for someone. I'm not good enough as a friend or daughter or sister or potential girlfriend or roommate and everyone is just putting up with me.

I don't know why I prefer to be alone most of the time. Probably so I don't have to try to explain myself. Or exhaust myself by trying to be cool when I'm an anxious mess. Probably because it's so much easier to not deal with the uncertainty of relationships than to live with the things I can't control.

I don't know why I try to avoid it all and not talk about it. Actually, of course I know why. Because who wants the girl who is sad or worried all the time? Who wants to deal with the girl who wakes up at two AM on her 32nd birthday with a racing heart, unable to breathe, praying she isn't breaking out in hives? No one.

It's exhausting just to read that, isn't it? I know. Try living with these racing, anxiety ridden thoughts constantly, while trying to still look like a fun girl who's up for anything. Tears fall from my eyes even now, because it is SO exhausting.

It exhausts me and I'm one of the lucky ones. I can control my anxiety and depression through close attention to diet, exercise, and therapy. I have friends who want to understand and parents who let me sleepover when life gets too tough. I have a tiny following where my words matter. So many people don't have any of that.

And while I know I can't make anyone understand what goes on in the brain of someone struggling with anxiety or depression, I can still be a voice for those who can't or won't talk about it.

I am so sorry that you have to deal with such difficult feelings every day. I'm sorry you feel like you're less than. I'm sorry you feel broken. I'm sorry you don't know sometimes if it's worth having to deal with SO many thoughts and feelings, so much of the time. It isn't fair.

You are not alone. You are not crazy. You are not a stigma to be swept under the rug.

I hear you. I see you. I am you.

And I'm here for you. xo!

Cheers! CasC
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