The Girl Who Lived
As I sit here lounging in my cotton underwear and unreasonably XXL T-shirt sans bra, I held on to Butters while she wheeked softly. Across the bed, Peaches sprawled belly up, fast asleep. I stare deeply at the blank screen of my computer tonight, wondering how I should write this without coming off as “different.” Because that’s how I’ve felt my whole life. Out of place, out of rhythm, out of rhyme. I struggle to type out the words that are just on the tips of my tongue. They’ve been waiting to translate themselves into typed out letters via the use of my fingers yet no words ever seem good enough to describe what I’ve dealt with for most of my life.
The words now roll out onto the screen but I type without confidence. Because my thoughts, my feelings, and my self worth have always felt controlled by anxiety and depression. Two puppeteers who co-exist together inside of me, telling me to go this way or that. It’s a daily mental battle that then becomes physically exhausting as the day. Some days, I find myself wanting to just lay in bed and do the most unproductive thing in the world-over think while staring up at my ceiling. My empty, very plain ceiling transports me into a whole other place where my thoughts race a mile a minute, where I replay a scene over and over while thinking of what went wrong, or what I did wrong, or even what could I have done to prevent an event from occurring. I lay there, physically here on earth, but mentally elsewhere, stuck in a rabbit hole wondering about all sorts of retroactive thoughts. “Where did my life go wrong?” “Everyone hates me,” “Its better if I’m just at home and don’t go to this event.” “It’s my fault.” “I didn’t do enough.” The dementors sometime visit and I try my best to think happy thoughts in order to keep them at bay.
Whenever I felt like I couldn’t accomplish anything, I wouldn’t try. “Anxiety says I will fail. Depression says I can’t do it.” If I did try, I usually would end up very discouraged. “Anxiety says why are you even trying. Depression says you suck, just give up.” In not feeling like I was getting anywhere in my life for a long time, I started watching other people getting ahead in theirs. Depression crept up very quickly at that point on. And it doesn’t help with self esteem either, it is the master of tearing it down.
I also want to add that depression doesn’t just have to do with not being able to get ahead in life. I’d like to compare depression to an onion. An onion has many different layers and depression is composed the same way. One layer can be about outside influences that always offer negative support and comments or nonconstructive criticism. Under that it could be about not being able to feel connected to anyone whether it’s a significant other, family, or friends. Not being able to connect with another person, can make you feel very alone because you feel as if you can’t express your thoughts and feelings to anyone. So you keep those thoughts and feelings to yourself, all bottled up. This makes depression worse because it can make you feel as if there is something wrong with you. “Why am I feeling this way because of something so small?” “This shouldn’t matter, I’m so stupid.” “Everyone else doesn’t think this way, so I need to stop.” Another deep layer of depression could be about past pain and hurt that are pushed aside and not dealt with. A lot of people tend to want to live their lives in the present or the future. Not everyone wants to face their past or relive certain parts of it. “The past is the past for a reason, it should be forgotten,” as some would say. Ironically, the past makes us who we are. And if who we are feels damaged, broken, depressed, anxious, out of control, or messed up in any unhealthy way, then it most likely has something to do with our past that must be faced, talked about, examined, and repaired in due time.
You may have noticed that some of my Instagram captions have changed to become more playful and funny, rather than seeing my usual moody musings. I think it’s because in the past two years, I chose to face my past and stopped denying that things weren’t wrong in my present moment. Like many people, I didn’t realize how our past experiences can sometimes make us who we are, whether if those experiences were a result of our own choices or other people’s choices. It was hard to sit down and analyze everything that happened. What hurt me, how I’ve hurt others. Every time I chose to dig deep, and I mean real deep… and face my past, the layers of depression peeled back more and more. With that, I had a bit more confidence in myself to go through with my goals, meet new people, and learn that things aren’t as scary as anxiety makes it to be.
I also started to do things that scare me a little bit whenever time permits. I remember the first time was when I pushed myself to go to an event where I didn’t know anyone there. Usually I’d be home with Butters and Peaches. I’d be happy napping on the couch watching Netflix while enjoying my favorite dishes (goals right?). The moment I was about to leave my home, I went into full on panic mode. Strangely, I was very calm during the hours leading up to leaving my home. Yet here I was, heart racing, palm sweating, thinking about what could go wrong in a million different ways. It was so terrible I wanted to break down and not deal with anything. Not because I was upset with not going to the event itself, but because anxiety builds up this “momentum” for lack of better terms, and makes you feel the worst of everything to the point where it is far more favorable to just give up. I still decided to push past that point of anxiety and still go, and realized that it wasn’t as bad as I thought it be. I’ve learned that anxiety is a metamorphosis of a stop sign that your mind conjures up when you feel threatened by something unfamiliar. I’ve always chose to stop and turn back. But when I decided to push myself to go past that stop sign, my anxiety became less and less controlling of my life and my choices. It almost feels like a contradiction in and of itself.
I don’t want to say that I have fully recovered from everything I’ve gone through. I think the more realistic response to all of this is because of everything I experienced depression and anxiety will probably always be a part of me. Just like I’ll continue to write deep captions here and there, because that will always be a part of me. No one in this world, no matter how perfect their lives seem on social media, is always 100% blissfully happy. There is always something, somebody is struggling with. So even though I do express myself in a more radiant light on social media, I won’t say that I’m always going to be super happy all the time, because that’s just not real. One of the main differences now about my experience with anxiety and depression is that I finally feel like I am the one in control. A friend once told me, that the world isn’t a kind place. Not necessarily that there aren’t any kind people in this world. But when you have anxiety and depression and it is out of control, not everyone in the world would be understanding of it when you have your moments. And that’s just something that you can’t take personally when you want to join the rest of the world in working and living out your life, blogger or not. Once you have a handle on your mental and emotional self, you then can go out and conquer whatever goals you set forth for yourself in a physical sense. I hope that this post inspires you in some way, and makes you see that mental health can be painted in a different picture through the eyes of one dreamer.
Be brave, be bold, be beautiful,