From the earliest age I can remember, I have suffered from extreme anxiety and depression. When I was younger, no one really knew what was “wrong” with me and I often heard the phrase “She is crazy” to define the unknown. I was about 5 or 6 when I was placed on my first anti-depressant and from what I can recall, it didn’t really work. I couldn’t go to school and the few times I made it with no trouble, my mom was usually receiving a phone call before noon letting her know I was having some major meltdown. That was just the beginning.
There were days when we (my family) would go to leave the house and I would cry so hard I’d make myself sick. The world was just too much for me and all I wanted to do was stay at home with my mom, watching cartoons and eating cereal. I learned early on that staying at home was usually not an option. There are chunks of my life that I don’t really remember. The only details I can recall from those times are arguments about what to do with me or questions of why I was so crazy. There were a ton of therapists that tried to help and failed. They did all the right things; asked all the right questions and extended the perfect amount of empathy, but none of it worked. One day, things hit the fan and I went away for a while. I don’t remember how long but I know I hated it.
Now, I’m an adult. Life is definitely not as simple as it was back then. My depression and anxiety have both worsened to degrees that not many people know. It’s something I am able to hide well, even from the people closest to me. This has come with a shitload of practice. I have anxiety attacks daily, I struggle to get out of bed almost every day and I dread doing simple life tasks that others do without a second thought. I have had many jobs that obviously can’t call my mom to come pick me up when I have a full-blown anxiety attack midday. I’ve had significant others that have no clue what to do or think when I freak out in the middle of important things like…sex. I’ve had friends that have tried to understand and I’ve had people in my life (past tense) that not only misunderstood, but took mental illness as a joke.
I’ve been able to pick through the masses and I feel like I have a solid support system that backs up my struggle even if they don’t always understand 100%. Even still, I constantly freak out about my friendships; periodically “checking in” to make sure they still care about my existence and to show that I still cherish theirs. I spend a lot of time reminding myself that these people love me no matter what crazy thoughts invade my mind. I have panic attacks over incomplete conversations, spending hours contemplating over what I said wrong and how to fix it when there is nothing to be fixed. I replay encounters with people over and over again cringing from embarrassment of something they likely didn’t notice. I worry about my loved ones 24 hours a day, with my thoughts often following me into my dreams on the nights I’m actually able to sleep. I zone out in public places, missing chunks of face to face conversations and I often have vivid, lifelike imaginations of terrible things happening to me or others.
Living like this is hard. It is often next to impossible and I fear what the rest of my life will look like living with these illnesses that are becoming progressively worse. When my weeks typically consist of only 2 days where I feel like I can get out of bed and function, it’s hard to imagine that there is any other kind of life for me. I’m trying to keep my head above water. I’m trying to hold tight to the little sanity I possess and I’m trying to remember to breathe because things are never as bad as they seem. If I’ve made it through 25 years of this relentless battle, I suppose I can anticipate doing it again. Right? Here’s to 50…at least! I’m coming for you, slowly but surely. 🙂