To My Anxiety and Depression, for the Good and Bad You've Given Me
You have been a part of my life for many years now, but still, I struggle to understand you. You are always there… not there for me, but there to challenge me.
You challenge me every day to fight an invisible illness, to dig down deep within myself for strength. You challenge me to find reasons to fight a continuous battle raging inside my own head.
Anxiety and depression, you each have your own personality traits. Anxiety, you literally take my breath away. You make my heart pound, my stomach tie up in knots, and my body start to shake. Depression, you take the “life” out of me. You bring tears to my eyes, make my soul ache, and cloud my thoughts often for no apparent reason.
You are two separate and daunting entities, but when you team up it is like two against one and you become a formidable opponent.
Having you both inside of me is like riding a rollercoaster. It is like being pulled in two different directions at the same time. It is like being held down and pulled up simultaneously.
I feel like I am going to crack from the pressure.
Depression, you make me not care. Anxiety, you make me care too much. I wish you would ease up and help me find some balance.
I wear a mask to keep you both hidden. My mask is my smile, to hide my sorrow. My mask is my laugh, to hide my panic. My mask is my confidence, to hide the fear of what is inside me. But, anxiety and depression, my mask is coming off as I write the following to you today:
You are thieves. You have stolen so much from me over the years — happiness and peace of mind. You are liars. You tell me things about myself that aren’t true, that I’m not good enough. You are cheaters. You play games with my mind; you don’t play fair.
I have worked hard to get you out of my life. You took residence in my head years ago, but you just don’t want to go. I don’t like either of you and I don’t want you around.
I know you are mental illnesses and are doing your jobs, and doing them very well. Thanks to your skills, I am an adult with anxiety and depression. But I am more than that. I am a wife, a mother, a friend and a professional, and I have jobs to do as well. Having you in my life makes everything so much harder than it has to be.
I must admit, you aren’t all bad. In fact, you have taught me some valuable lessons and given me some priceless gifts. You have taught me compassion; through my own journey I have become more aware of the suffering of others and I want to help them in any way I can. You have taught me not to judge others so quickly. Most people have no idea about my struggles, so I may not know what is going on inside somebody else. You have given me true friendships. In opening up about you, I have fostered some truly meaningful, deep and lifelong friendships. You have given me strength and courage. It takes a strong and brave individual to stand up to you and fight to get better.
And last, but certainly not least, you have helped shape my life. I would not be the person I am today without you. And while I will continue to battle against you every single day, I am going to take your lessons and gifts and use them to grow.
Dear anxiety and depression, I wish I could write myself off into the sunset and away from your hold over me. I wish I could end this letter by telling you goodbye. It just isn’t that easy; right now you are still too strong. But, don’t count me out. I am getting stronger.
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Unsplash photo via Sasha Freemind