I have felt better lately, more confident, having the courage to finally show my writing– and therefore myself– to the world. To me, writing is baring the soul, the heart, the very nakedness of myself. So when I finally started this blog, after years of wanting so desperately to do so but being so deeply terrified of it, I felt a freedom that I cannot compare with anything else in my life.
I felt very alone for the first 31 years of my life. I was surrounded by people who not only did not understand me but who also used me as a punching bag on which to take out all of their aggression, fear, and sadness. I don’t know whether that actually caused my depression and anxiety disorder or exacerbated it, but I have lived with those things for as long as I can remember. I began suffering from insomnia at the age of three, and I first experienced depression while I was still in elementary school. The anxiety and panic came when my parents separated. I was twelve when I had my first panic attack. I was spending the night with my grandparents, and my grandma and I were sharing a bed because I was having trouble sleeping. I sat bolt upright shortly after laying down, overcome by a sense of pure panic, dread, and terror. My grandmother was hard-pressed to calm me and get me to sleep.
After this incident, I experienced many, many more, well into my seventeenth year. I continually asked for help– or for my mother to take me to someone who could help– and was continually dismissed. At the age of seventeen, I read a magazine article about anxiety/panic disorder and was amazed to see, for the first time, that there was a name for what had been happening to me. Up until that moment, I had thought I was crazy. The relief I felt was palpable, followed by anger that no one had listened to me. That anger still lingers. Anxiety and panic attacks ruined so much of my teenage years, and it could have been treated had someone had the kindness and patience to listen to me. Maybe someday the anger will go away, but I am not ready to let go of it yet.
Today, though I no longer suffer from panic attacks (because I had to learn to control them out of necessity), I still suffer from anxiety. And usually depression goes hand-in-hand with it. But it is manageable most of the time. However, it is vital to me that as many people as possible are educated on this subject, if for no other reason than to prevent other young women from feeling completely alone. Please, please click on the link below.
I watched this ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aqu4ezLQEUA ) tonight and was overcome with sadness and poignancy. It perfectly describes what I went through with my mother as a young woman. I know her dismissal was borne of ignorance, not lack of caring, but I still ache from it. If your child or sibling or parent or friend or anyone else ever comes to you with this, do not respond with fear or ignorance or impatience. Open your arms to them and offer your love and acceptance and any help you can give. It is so imperative in recovery to not feel alone. If you are a close friend of mine, you have already seen me suffer through this, and I thank you for standing by me. I am beyond thankful that I am no longer alone. I have much to be thankful for today– summer with my children, a new job, and six weeks of full weekends coming up. In addition to wonderful friends and an amazing husband. Anxiety and depression do not understand thankfulness, and they don’t realize that they don’t belong where things are good. So I hold on to the happiness I have today and the hope that my monsters don’t intrude on it. I want to enjoy my reasons for being thankful.
I know I write a lot about uncomfortable things– reason being that these things need to be brought out of the shadows and into the light. The stigma needs to be erased so that those who suffer from it no longer have to feel ashamed or guilty or self-conscious. And remember, if you are one of those who does struggle with depression/anxiety– flare-ups are temporary. Depression and anxiety lie– do not believe what they tell you. Hold on to your life and to the ones you love and believe that you will walk through it. Because you will. I have survived it enough times to know. Above all, know you are not alone. Life is not easy for anyone. It is more difficult for some than for others. Today, I am thankful that it isn’t hard. Today, I will revel in the many reasons I have to be happy. Because I don’t know when the clouds will come. I do know, however, that I will walk through them and see the sun again.