At some point last year, I finally came to the conclusion that Anxiety and Depression were going to be my companions for the rest of my life. I can’t say that was a hard fact to wrap my head around, it just was. Just like I’m never gong to be taller than 5’2″ and just how my ring fingers will always be longer than my index finger, anxiety and depression and unattached ear lobes and a downward turned mouth is just a part of who I am. I can manage the anxiety and depression to the best of my ability with therapy and medication and other coping tools, but at the end of the day unless science figures something new out, I will never be cured.
I can only hope to cope, to make my peace and to go on living my life in spite of it. Millions of people cope with chronic illness and I guess, in a way, I’m another one of those people.
My depression and anxiety encompass a wide variety of “symptoms”. Sometimes, I’m exhausted and it takes every single ounce of energy to do the basic things I need to do to get my family through the day. I count the minutes, literally, between when I have to get up to get Baby Bee off to school on time and when I can crawl back into bed and “cocoon” until I have to move on to the next essential task.
Sometimes, I can barely leave the house because the grip my anxiety has on me. Even medicated. Again, I pare my life down as far as I can, white knuckling the steering wheel feeling entirely unsafe until I am home again. There is no logicing myself out of this very primal, hard wired fear. I’ve tried.
I have intrusive thoughts, meaning that I can, in a span of only a few moments, have myself hysterical over something happened that I’ve only imagined. Thankfully, through years of therapy I am able to identify that this tips off a panic cycle and if I can stop the intrusive thoughts, I can head off a major episode.
Sometimes my symptoms are minor, like the time I had pinkies, and I can laugh about it.
Last night, I was sacked out on the couch. I’d been restless all day. Really, since the night before when I just couldn’t settle into sleep. I tossed and turned. Changed channels on the TV, tried to read. Nothing worked. I finally changed my location and found sleep in the playroom (because sometimes changing location is enough) but I woke up feeling off.
That restless feeling can be the worst. It was while I was trying to decide if it was worth it to go to bed or to take it upon myself to do something completely ridiculous at 11:30 when I had been tired since I opened my eyes.
Restlessness is another symptom of my depression. It is the unsettled searching of something to quiet me and soothe me and to tie up all of my flapping loose ends. It is my body and mind trying to fight the lethargy of depression and the unsettled, racing anxiety. It’s just another chink in the chain that makes up my mental health struggles.
Part of accepting that I am a depressed, anxious person is recognizing my symptoms, naming them and attempting to adjust to them. It’s hard to feel like you’re skittering around inside your own skin. But, sometimes I do. Maybe you do, too.
Big Daddy and I spend a lot of time talking about wanting good things for all people. It’s true. It really is at the core of what drives my political ideologies. Good things for people. Sometimes it’s hard because I feel so small. I’m just me. Just one person with limited resources and connections, what can I do?
I can lay down the words to work to normalize depression and anxiety and other mental illnesses. I can stay myself up and say “Hey, I have these problems and sometimes they make me a little squirelly, but I can still be a good wife and mother and friend.”
“Hey. There’s nothing wrong with me.”
Well, I mean, there are about a million things wrong with me from my deep love of 12 year old potty humor to the fact that I don’t close cupboards (because short people don’t hit their heads on them, that’s why).
I’ve worked hard to change my language when I talk about mental illness.
I’ve worked hard to STOP armchair diagnosing people.
I don’t say that my some of my slightly obsessives tendencies are OCD.
And, I try to speak openly and honestly about my mental health.
I am depressed. I always will be.
I do have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I probably always will.
I do take medication to control the symptoms of the above conditions. I probably will always have to. I am not ashamed of this. I am not ashamed that i have to take vitamin D supplements. I’m not ashamed when I need to take a motrin. I am not ashamed that I have to take a pill a day to make sure I’m the best version of myself that I’m capable of being.
I see a therapist every two weeks and have for nearly five years. I am not ashamed that I am doing everything I can to try and live with the symptoms of my anxiety disorder and depression.
It can be hard to make the waves of good ripple outward, but I can do this. Maybe, it will help solve the problem of my restlessness.