It’s been a long time since I’ve woken up in the middle of the night with the undeniable urge to write something that wasn’t fiction. I woke up last night with that urge, and I don’t know how any of it turned out because I don’t want to chicken out of posting this. Because I feel like it’s important that I get these thoughts out there, for anyone who can gain something from them. I don’t do stuff like this that often, and it’s been a while since I got personal on my page, but if you click back through older posts, that’s all I used to do.
Over the past six months, maybe year or two (I can’t remember shit lol) I’ve been struggling with some issues. I’ve tried many things to cope. Writing is one of them. It always has and always will be. But it isn’t often that I write non-fiction. Fiction makes it so I can deal with what I have through a filter, but sometimes I don’t want one. Sometimes I feel the need to deal with things in a raw and unobstructed way. I think that’s what I was doing early this morning.
For me, it’s important to not just show my successes and have people think I live an amazing life full of writing and fun stuff. Don’t get me wrong. What you’re about to read may have you think that I’m hopeless and ungrateful. I’m not. I love my readers and bloggers and friends and family and a lot of times, these are the things that help me the most. But a lot of my life hasn’t been so fun lately and I think it’s worth it to show that to people as well. I hope at least some of you appreciate this.
Here are my Three AM thoughts from last night, unedited and unrevised:
Having anxiety and depression is a lot like being thrown into the deep end of the pool when you don’t know
how to swim (for the record, I hate water and I don’t really know how to swim. So this is a great analogy, huh?). When you first experience it, you don’t really know what’s going on. As a result, you flail around, kicking, screaming, crying, pleading—doing anything it takes to keep your head above water so you don’t drown.
I was diagnosed at a very young age with anxiety. I don’t remember much about it with the exception of the panic attacks. I’ve always been able to remember each and every one of those. I know that I was in third grade, in the middle of story time, when I first had one. I remember how I scared the other kids in my class and how I didn’t return to school until the middle of fourth grade because I couldn’t function like everyone else. I don’t really know what caused the anxiety. I wrote about that a little HERE.
My doctors and therapists seemed to have thought it had something to do with my parents getting a divorce, but I was so little that my parents always spoke for me, so I don’t know how much of that theory is real and how much of it was them trying to explain why their daughter was acting out. It probably didn’t help that my parents’ toxic relationship was even more toxic now that they were leaving each other, unwillingly placing their children in the middle of a war-zone, but I think there’s probably a lot more to it that I don’t understand. Even now.
The double-whammy of depression and anxiety is just plain evil. That saying of “I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy?” Yeah. That makes a lot of sense here. I don’t sleep. I have trouble doing “normal” things like hanging out with friends and driving. I have a hard time enjoying things, I have a hard time believing what I’m doing is worth anything at all. Then I get anxious about what’s wrong with me.
When I step back and look at my life the way an outsider would, I’m happy.
I think it’s important to point out that sadness, depression, mental illness in general, is not a straight line. Things can be good and bad at the same time. You can be happy and sad at the same time. Confusing? I know.
That’s why I thought it was important to write this post. So very few people understand what it’s like, and I’ve been struggling to explain it since I was very, very young. I still don’t know how. All I know is that I’m more aware of my “issues” than I was before, and all I can do is try to float around without bumping into anything that will make me start flailing again.
I was doing okay until January. I was having anxiety issues because of school and stress and whatnot, but in general, I was alright. Functioning.
I cannot explain what it’s like when a sibling calls you to say that one of your parents has died. That two police officers showed up on the middle of the night to tell them and they were too upset to call you until morning. I can’t explain that at all, but I can tell you how the snow was falling outside the window, how quiet everything was. And how loud.
I also can’t explain what it’s like trying to plan a funeral when you didn’t talk your parent for the last three years of his life. People have told me that it’s better we weren’t close, that if I really loved him, if we were really in each others’ lives, it would have been harder. That’s where they’re wrong. It’s like he left us an enormous puzzle. One with missing pieces and even the pieces that are there are warped and don’t fit in the right places. Six months later, and we’re still trying to put the pieces together, still trying to move on when he’s everywhere and nowhere. When we have no answers.
Depression and anxiety affects literally every aspect of my life. It controls everything. It tells me what to think, how to feel, what to eat, how to dress, what to write about, what to worry about. It doesn’t matter that I know that some of these thoughts (a lot of times most of them) aren’t rational. Hell, sometimes I’ll pace the room anxious just about the next time I’ll be anxious.
I don’t sleep. My stomach hurts all the time. I never feel healthy. I never like or enjoy anything completely. I question everything (good and bad) that happens in my life and wonder if I deserve it.
This is no way to live, yet I’ve lived this way for as long as I can remember. However, I think my dad dying the way he did put everything into perspective. He was alone because of his mental illness, and although alcoholism and my issues are completely different in a lot of ways, I’m drawing lines from one to the other daily. I’m realizing that we aren’t that much different. And it scares me.
I’ve been told that anxiety is a “fight or flight” response. That when my brain doesn’t know how to deal with something, it just shuts down—something maybe left over from an earlier time. I don’t know about that. I think it could be true, but I also think it’s something that I can’t explain away that simply.
I am so grateful to the people in my life, but I honestly don’t know why or how they find the strength to put up with me. How I can flail around and there’s always someone there trying to pull me out. Al and I have been together for eight years. When I first told him about anxiety, I remember the confused look that passed over his face, like so many others. I remember how nervous I was to tell him that I had depression, seeing that same confused look. But he just hugged me and told me he wanted me to be happy. He still does that. And I don’t know how or why he does.
Part of me will always be afraid that I’ll tell him I’m under a bad wave and he’ll decide he’s had enough. Move on to a normal happy girl, but I know that I’ve never loved anyone so completely and so without question that it scares me even more. I’m afraid of myself and what I do to the people around me. I make them worry. I make them sad or upset. They feel helpless or like they aren’t enough to make me happy. What they don’t understand is that they are. They are more than enough, and although I don’t say it to them as often as I should, they make the whole getting out of bed and trying to live life normally thing worth it. If I didn’t have my friends and sisters, I think I would be a lot worse.
Love is something I’ve never truly been comfortable with. I think it has a lot to do with how I was brought up, how easily things changed for the worse and how easily it was for someone to tell you they loved you and then turn around and drink themselves sick while you were around.
I’m beginning to realize that while I didn’t always have a good relationship with my father, I know he loved me. I remember we would ask him to stop drinking as young as nine years old, beg him to for hours on the phone when he called drunk, asking why we didn’t want to see him. I never believed I was enough. I always thought that if he loved us, he could stop putting something that hurt him and everyone around him above us. I think I’m slowly starting to understand. He did love us. There were just other things in the way. There was some part of his brain that didn’t let him love me completely, that didn’t let me believe him completely.
It’s my biggest fear that this is how the people I love will one day see me. That despite how much I tell them I love them and how much I try to show it, they’ll never fully believe me because they know that deep down I’m not happy and that they aren’t enough.
That’s why, after years and years of struggling to do this on my own, I’ve decided to be put on medication. I’m leaving to hang out in the mountains tomorrow night and when I get back, I’m starting on it. Real, honest-to-god, not-herbal-all-chemical medication. Understand me when I say that this scares the living shit out of me. I don’t want to be taking pills that alter my mood or who I am, I don’t want to end up more screwed up than I am now. I am anxious about taking medicine that will help me be less anxious. Come on, it doesn’t get more confusing than that. Lol.
I know that the people closest to me will be supportive no matter what. I know that there are strangers reading this now who will support me because they’ve been through similar things. I think it’s important to point out that I am not writing this for attention, I’m writing this for the reason I write anything: to help others. I want it to be okay to talk about issues like this. I want it to be okay to be scared, to ask for help, to say that you’re tired of flailing and you need someone to pull you out of the deep end. If I can be something like that to even one person, I’m happy.
I guess I’ll end this here. I’m writing this at 3AM in the dark and it’ll all probably look different in the morning, but I wanted to get this out there. I just wanted to let you—whoever you are—know that I’m trying. I really am. That’s all any of us can do. Stay with me. We’ll be okay.
Thank you for reading this post. I love you. Your regularly scheduled book news and so forth with continue soon. : )