How about a super light and airy topic for a Tuesday morning, huh?! Hold on to your $!*$#* hats.
For as long as I can remember I’ve dealt with anxiety. I remember sitting in class in the fourth grade and feeling knots in my stomach and my hair standing on end when I would get called on or when I knew class was almost over or when I knew our whole class was about to leave the room. Once, my friend Hunter that sat across from me, told me that my voice changed when I would get called on in class. Fourth grade me was like wat. I’d find out later that it was because of anxiety.
In middle school, I would obsessively watch the clock and become a nervous wreck waiting for the bell to ring. As soon as it rang, the knots and the chills and the insane thoughts faded out. But 55 minutes later when the next bell was about to ring, they’d be back. (I was never saved by the bell, if you’re wondering.)
In high school, things were milder. The stomach knots and the insane thoughts were there, but by this time I’d acclimated. This was normal for me. Wasn’t it normal for everyone?
I remember being 16. (Doesn’t everyone?) Looking back, there were two major traumas. (Thanks, counseling, for pointing that out!) One, my best friend and I split up. Two, my grandmother being diagnosed with brain cancer. I lost the person that had been my sister for years and was losing someone I loved forever. When my grandmother passed away in October of 2006, I felt a shift. I never really felt myself after that. It was a tragic and horrific loss for my entire family that still hurts. I think that’s when my depression began.
I didn’t figure out what anxiety was until I was probably 21 or 22. (That small town education, tho.) That I had it? Well, that was an even slower realization. The divorce forced me to find a counselor, and I’m glad it did. I literally could not function day to day because of the rampant anxious thoughts. I had to find someone to talk to or I would explode.
In counseling, it wasn’t like she was helping me through something, per se. She was letting me talk it out. Letting me open up and say things to her that I couldn’t, or didn’t know how to, say to my friends or family. She let me spill myself on the floor in front of her without judgment. It was messy and ugly and I threw up a lot of word vomit. But, like so many things in life, it turned into something beautiful: me. Myself. Finally, I felt like myself again. I could process thoughts and think clearly about things. Life. Love. Whatever. That was spring of 2013.
It’s March of 2015. I’m dating a guy I fall madly for instantly, as I often do. (Classic amirite?) In July I moved to Dallas. I remember crying almost every day for a week or two because I was alone for the first time in my life. There was no one home when I got there. Life wasn’t happening in my home without me like I was so accustomed to. Sure, Pepper was there. But she wasn’t watching TV or making dinner or doing dishes when I walked in the door. I’d honestly be creeped out if I walked in and she was doing any of those things. (#nothumbs) I was greeted with silence every day, accompanied by darkness with the time change which made things exponentially worse. Jon, my boyfriend at the time, lived 8 minutes away but was going through his own thing and wasn’t there all the time when I needed him.
I didn’t visit a church until December. Which was a big part of the problem, but I shut myself out. Things got better for a few weeks in July after I acclimated to Dallas, but that thin, grey veil never really went away. In fact, it got darker. Jon eventually moved to Austin for a new job and we split not long after that. This time, I was really alone. He was one of two people I knew when I moved here and now he was gone.
I’m over the breakup now, but the loneliness remains. It’s not that I don’t have friends or someone great I’m dating, it’s depression. And depression makes absolutely no sense. To the person it’s happening to or the people outside of it watching. Depression hits me at the oddest times: in the middle of a happy conversation, during a drink with someone, on a date, lying in bed drifting to sleep, watching a SnapChat story. Suddenly this curtain falls and that’s the end of the act for me. I could easily throw in the towel and call it a day no matter what time it is, but I have to, sometimes literally, force myself to stand up and move. To do something. And slowly, so slowly, that curtain peeks open and I’ll see a bit of light. And that bit of light sustains me and I make it grow. I have to.
A few nights ago a particularly hard curtain fell (no doubt attributed to my NYE shenanigans (HOLLA) and lack of sleep) and I remember talking to Jesus telling him how tired I was. How tired I am of saying how tired I am. How this has been the biggest looming shadow over my entire life. How it’s dictated my moods and decisions and actions forever. And I told Him how afraid I was that I’d feel like this forever. That there would never be a day I didn’t feel that thin, grey veil over me.
And to be honest, I still feel that way. I still get sad randomly. I still feel anxious. But I’m in counseling and I’m learning ways to fight it. I’m spilling myself out on the floor in front of a complete stranger so she can help me figure out how to pour myself back together in a better and healthier way.
Hey yo, it’s okay if you have depression. It took me 25 years to muster the courage to find a counselor. I don’t want to hide it anymore. Talking about it and laughing about it helps me. lol I get sad all the time and cry in random places IT’S SO HILARIOUS. Let’s start a real conversation about it. We shouldn’t have to be afraid to tell people we have depression or anxiety. Or hey, a mixed bag of both. JACKPOT.
Here’s to better days for all.