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What My 'Good Days' With Anxiety and Depression Look Like

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A good day is when I wake up with self-defeating thoughts, 
and I make my coffee anyway.

A good day is when my brain feels like mush,
 but I do my best anyway.

A good day is when my best doesn’t look like much,
 but I’m proud of myself anyway.

A good day is when instead of being brave, I hide,
 and I forgive myself anyway.

A good day is when my mind is a battlefield,
 and I march onward anyway.

A good day is when I feel disgusting,
 but I maintain my self-care anyway.

A good day is when I feel like a big ball of fear,
 but I go to the event anyway.

A good day is when I’m afraid of what they’ll think,
 but I answer honestly anyway.

A good day is when I feel like a sorry loner,
 but I reach out to a friend anyway.

A good day is when I want to curl in a ball on the couch,
 but I make myself go for a walk anyway.

A good day is when other people make me shrink in fear,
 but I get the errands done anyway.

A good day is when my heart is pounding for no reason,
 but I remember to breathe anyway.

A good day is when I imagine near-death scenarios,
 but I believe they’ll come home anyway.

A good day is when I think I’m a terrible person,
 but I choose to be kind to myself anyway.

A good day is when I’m ashamed of myself,
 but I write about my feelings anyway.

A good day is when my thoughts terrify me,
 but I remember my thoughts are separate from me anyway.

A good day is when I’m different from everyone else,
 but I choose to love myself anyway.

A good day is when reality is ugly,
 but I choose to accept it anyway.

A good day is when I stay home sick,
 and I work on a project anyway.

A good day is when I feel weak and confused,
 but I find something healthy to do anyway.

A good day is when there’s a change of plans,
 and I go with the flow anyway.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

A good day is when I know I could have done better,
 but I accept myself anyway.

A good day is when I think I’ve failed before I’ve even begun,
 and I decide to start anyway.

Inspired by Mother Teresa’s poem “Do It Anyway.”

Follow this journey on The Wishing Well.

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To My Roommate Who's Witnessing My Anxiety Attack

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I know this probably wasn’t what you were hoping to come home to today. I know you may not want to see me this way. And trust me, I don’t want to be this way.

I notice your expressions of shock and concern. I see that you want to do something, that you want to help, but maybe you don’t know what to do. You might think it’s best if you just leave me alone, but I actually need you more than ever right now. So here’s what you can do:

Let me know I am safe. There is a profound disconnect occurring between my brain and body right now. I feel as though there is a very real, very imminent threat to my safety that is not grounded in reality. All logic has gone by the wayside, and my thoughts are racing at a million miles an hour. Let me know the contrary is true, that I am safe and OK. Help bring me back to reality before my thoughts consume me.

Hold me. I’m not saying this because I am desperate for your affection, I say this because it works. Studies have actually shown sustained physical contact can help slow biological rhythms. So if I’m panicking, hold me. Don’t let go until I come back to reality.

Just talk. I am desperate for anything to distract me from all the noise in my head. I may not be able to hold a conversation with you, but please keep talking. Tell me about your day, or find a funny story to chat about. It helps more than you might think.

Ask me if I’ve taken my medicine. Chances are I neglected to think about the benzodiazepines I have for emergency situations like this. Ask me if I’ve taken my meds, and if not, where to locate them. It also may be a good idea to grab a paper bag in case I hyperventilate before they have a chance to work.

Just be as understanding as you can. I know it can be hard to wrap your mind around this. I know you may not understand why this is happening or why I am this way. I don’t understand why I am this way. I know it can be easy to jump to conclusions, and I don’t blame you for that. Just, if you can, try to be empathetic.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

Know that this will pass. And let me know that, too. This is only temporary, and everything will be OK.

Thank you for being here.

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Anxiety and the Fear of the Future

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“What is anxiety?”

When I hear those words, I panic… it’s what I do. Then I think (that’s also what I do). I respond, “Well, it’s having no desire to go to sleep because then I’ll have to wake up and face tomorrow. It’s thinking too much about things.” Once that conversation is over, I remember things I should have said. I think of things more in depth and go back to them or have that conversation again like a broken record, but anxiety, to me, is the fear of the future. When you have a fear of the future, you think about everything that could happen even if it’s impossible. Fearing the future is saying “just in case” a million times a day.

I also have a fear of the past and deal with depression. I fear past events, anxious that my past problems or days or anything from the past could shape me or set a reputation for me.

Fearing the past and fearing the future are difficult when you’re stuck in the present day. Top that all off with high school — the “greatest” days of my life. The endless visits to the counselors to tell them again and again I don’t need them to pull me out of class. Teachers knowing I’m depressed or anxious and feeling bad for me because I’m crying and don’t know why. Classmates staring because I look like a kiss up.

I think I will forever fear the future, and that’s OK. Fearing the future is anxiety. So, next time someone asks me, “What is anxiety?” I can continue to try and explain it until they pretend to understand, or I can simply tell them, “well, it’s my fear of the future.”

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Dear Anxiety, Let's Work Together

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Dear Anxiety,

You and I have not always been on the best of terms. In fact, you have been my enemy as far back as I can remember. Your warm cocoon of “what if” catastrophes has wrapped me in waves of heart racing, chest tightness, dizziness and short breaths. Your tempting aura has kept me out of the present moment and brought me into parts of my head I didn’t even know were there, parts I wished with all of my being weren’t there.

Although, I’ve always resented you, you’ve been with me since the beginning. You kept me safe when I was a kid, and you kept me out of trouble in adolescence. You pushed me to do well in school, to follow the rules and to be nice to everyone. If I may, however, it sometimes feels like you’re encroaching territory on which you don’t belong, like when your panic and tears postponed my high school Honors Physics exam for fear of falling into the black abyss of a C. (Update: The C didn’t ruin my life).

Recently though, I have to tell you, you have seriously overstepped your boundaries. You’ve forgotten about the things we used to do together, hand in hand, like yoga, traveling and time spent with family and friends. You used to love these things and now they set you off, like you’re in danger doing the things that once made you feel safest.

I get it, adulthood is scary, but from what I hear, adulthood can also be pretty great. There are parts of my mind not tainted by you that believe life is joy, love and happiness in its fullest and most well-rounded definition. There are parts of my mind that seek to spread compassion to all I meet and, most importantly, to love myself abundantly.

Yet, this is another hat you wear, Anxiety. In the most ironic way, you are helping me grow these parts of my mind. You’ve brought to the surface my deepest and darkest fears, the harmful thought patterns bubbling beneath my consciousness and the minutiae of self-loathing and insecurity have come directly to my attention so I could not avoid them any longer. Thanks to the debilitating messages you’ve sent from my mind through my body, I am forced to confront what I’ve suppressed since I decided life was something I would live to the very corners of its possibilities.

MIGHTY PARTNER RESOURCES

I know you mean well, Anxiety, and I know now you are, at your core, a survival instinct. I am grateful to you for keeping me alive, well and safe for so long. However, now I am no longer just appreciating you, I am accepting you. I am giving you full permission to flourish as a part of my very being because I know now there is no part of me that doesn’t belong. There is no part of me that is less than worthy, and so I accept and honor your messages just the way they are.

I invite you to help me build the life of my dreams, to walk in stride with me as I face things that trigger you. Let us work together on those things. Let us not be separate or at war. We know now this only makes things worse. From this day forward, you have an open invitation to come into me and to join the love that I intend every day to emit to the world.

Thanks for everything, and sorry it took me so long.

Love,
Elizabeth

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3 Things I'm Trying to Remember This Thanksgiving as Someone With Anxiety

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Thanksgiving.

I never really understood this holiday. Actually, starting from about November through the New Year, I have always dreaded this sequence of holidays. The hardest always came first: Thanksgiving. Growing up, I have little to no memory of my family sitting down at the table eating a nice meal together (whether it was normally on a regular basis or during Thanksgiving). When I went off to college, I thought things would be different. Instead, I spent my first Thanksgiving in college laying on the floor of my tiny dorm room, eating a frozen meal, watching some Food Network on my roommate’s television. The next Thanksgiving was no different, spending it alone in the dorm room yet again.

After leaving my first undergraduate institution for my alma mater (I transferred after sophomore year, but that story is for another post), the flight became more expensive, the journey longer (now it is a four hour flight instead of one hour). I never did find a family to spend Thanksgiving with. I never did have friends who stayed behind. I wasn’t a part of any student organization or church group that hosted “friendsgiving.” I ended up just going into lab to work during Thanksgiving break.

Until two years ago. Everything changed. At the end of fall quarter my senior year, I met my mentor and dear friend. I saw her regularly as my senior year ended and my graduate studies began the following year. I remember the conversation vividly. We were sitting in her office – my sister, my rescue pup, and herself – chatting about the upcoming holidays and what my family did during that time. We were all on the floor trying to pet and play with my pup when she announced I would celebrate Thanksgiving with her family. I was shocked. I was stunned. I had never been a part of anything like this before. That was my first Thanksgiving ever. I had never felt more loved and cared about in that moment, standing in her kitchen, wearing a paper crown, holding my pup and surrounded by her kids. I helped win the pie contest that year.

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This year I will be celebrating with them again. However, I do have a lot of anxiety surrounding the holiday. I am in anorexia recovery and struggle with severe anxiety, especially in large groups of people. I get scared of what people think of me – this happens when I am the only person of color or the different one in a group – and I start to busy myself with dishes, serving others, etc. I forget to stop and just be in the moment, to enjoy spending time with the people I love and the people that love me, for simply being me.

This Thanksgiving, here are some things to remember. Whether you are with an adoptive family, your own nuclear family, or friends, keep this in mind (these are as much for myself as for anybody reading this):

1. Be in the moment. This may be the only time the entire year your relatives and family
get together, or the only time your friends all see each other. So remember to stay in the moment and cherish the memories that are being made.

2. Let your guard down a bit. Just take a deep breath and think about how much people in the room love you. Remind yourself how much you love all the people in the room. Just be genuine, just be simply you.

3. Try to savor one bite at a time. I struggle with this, being in anorexia recovery. I still count calories and worry a lot about my body image. But try, please try, to not worry about the calories you are consuming and try to savor each bite of food this Thanksgiving. Don’t think about the fact that “I need to run this off the next day” or “I can’t have this extra slice of pie” because you are eating to nourish your body, to feed your brain the glucose it needs to keep you alive and well. And you are with loved ones. So please, cherish the moment.

Let’s try and enjoy this Thanksgiving this year. It’s the one time during the year where we are able to let down our guard and be surrounded by people we love and care deeply about.

Stay strong, keep fighting. Together we will make it through.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, you can call the National Eating Disorders Association Helpline at 1-800-931-2237.

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