Learning the Importance of Being Alone in Depression and Anxiety Recovery
I haven’t been writing because I haven’t known what I’ve been feeling or experiencing. I am so used to easily defining my life by my anxiety and depression, as some of you may be as well. If something is wrong, it’s either my anxiety or depression acting up. I warn oncoming people in my life, feeling like I should wear a flashing neon light that reads: “this lady has anxiety and depression! Watch out!” But anxiety and depression do not make up all of me, just like your mental health doesn’t make up all of you. It is not all that I am.
For so long, it’s how I defined my life and my issues:
“Excuse me, I can’t do this thing because, you know … anxiety”
“I know I acted irrationally, but you know … anxiety.”
“I’m sorry I didn’t make it out, but you know … depression.”
It was my crutch, my excuse — the thing I can lean back on. It was mainly in my relationships or socially. I expected myself to struggle. I kept waiting for the downfall. On any big group trip, my anxiety was always high because I was waiting for myself to mess it up. I think my friends and partner at the time was too. It became part of my persona and I used it, whether it was to my advantage or disadvantage.
I had a “friend” say he didn’t want to go on trips with me because of my anxiety. I had another “friend” who could no longer be friends with me after seeing one anxiety attack. My ex-partner could no longer see me for me and was always waiting for the next break in my anxiety.
I had others who reached out to me and said how I have helped or inspired them. I have done talks on the subject. I have been able to connect and empathize with others more. I have become more carefree and open about my mental health. I ended up believing it was all or nothing. Other people’s views of me created my perspective of myself. If my ex-partner couldn’t see past my anxiety and depression, who else would? What friend would choose to stay? Am I just supposed to be an inspiration or a tool and nothing else?
These past few months, I have delved deeper into my understanding of myself. I keep coming back to the idea of “yes, and.” This idea that we can be multiple and contradictory things. That something could be good for us and bad for us. That it doesn’t have to be one way or the other. I’ve been learning to live in the gray.
The biggest way that I have seen this come into play is in my relationships. I have grown to appreciate my past relationships. I have grown to forgive myself and others and the mistakes we made. I learned to walk away from things when I know they aren’t the right timing. All my relationships and interactions brought me some baggage, good and bad.
I’m currently not great at trusting my emotions. I’m also currently not great at communicating my feelings. I have a hard time trusting others to stay. I still have a hard time letting myself to be truly seen and feeling worthy as me. But it’s not on others to fix. This may or may not be exacerbated by my anxiety and depression, but I’m healing from it nonetheless.
This man, who was pretty great, checked off most of my boxes for someone I wanted in a partner. He was empathetic. He was outdoorsy. He was accepting. He was sarcastic. He wanted me. But I knew I wasn’t ready and didn’t want to be ready. I walked away from something I knew wasn’t right for me at that moment in my life. I need to continue focusing on myself, and being alone for a bit is a piece of that. I haven’t second-guessed that decision. Trusting my intuition and my own needs is something I haven’t done in a while, so it felt good.
My past trauma is fading. Laughs. Voices. Dates. I’m becoming more in tune with myself, which is exactly what I need at this moment. I’m becoming more self-aware. I’m understanding the pieces of me that are my anxiety and depression, and pieces of me that are not. I’m creating my own space. I’m creating my own life. It feels good to be busy on my own terms. I’m learning to trust myself again and my judgment. I’m learning to show up anyway. I’m learning to heal and forgive. I’m learning how to be me. I’m not sure how this will all turn out. Being alone gives me anxiety, but so far I’ve been pretty happy.
A version of this article was previously published on the author’s blog.
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