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Why I Struggle With My Identity as a Person With Anxiety and Depression

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I don’t want to be that person — the one you look at when they’re having a panic attack and think, “I feel so sorry for them.” Or, “That must be awful.” I definitely don’t want to be the one you think of every time you see a panic attack portrayed in any sort of film or television show.

I don’t want to be that person — the one who has to convince people that even though they have a mental illness, that sometimes gets the better of them, that they’re usually doing OK. I’ve done the work and continue to do the work daily to ensure I am getting myself healthy.

I don’t want to be that person — the one you think of as soon as anyone says the word mental illness. It’s not that I’m ashamed, it’s just that it’s such a small part of me and who I am.

The one who struggles daily to tell people they’re having a really rough time. The one who doesn’t want to say anything for fear that people will get overly worried. The truth is that when I struggle, I’m telling you because I just need to get it out.

I’m more scared for when I stop telling people.

The one who’s too scared to let someone see the vulnerable pieces of them. I don’t want to continue to believe my anxiety and depression are too much of a weight to put on someone else, so what’s the point in even falling love.

The one who feels like people have started putting them into the breakable category since admitting that this is something they struggle with daily. I don’t need to be handled with kid gloves. I can handle a lot actually. So can everyone else with mental illness. We just need a little more love some days.

The one people think uses their mental illness to get them out of things. I’m not trying to be flaky. I’m not trying to ditch last minute. Trust me, letting you down is something I’m going to think about for months and months. That’s not an exaggeration. I’m also going to apologize profusely and try to make it up to you.

The one who gets angry sometimes, thinking about how much their anxiety and depression has ruled every part of their life. Sometimes I get so angry that I can’t just do something without overthinking. Everything in my life is overanalyzed and I wish that sometimes I could just let it go.

The one who struggles to fall in love fully for the fear of rejection. I don’t want to be so scared to let someone see the darkest parts of me and feel like they’re going to leave. I don’t want to make them think they have to constantly reassure me that we’re going to be OK. I don’t want someone to feel like it’s them when really it’s me.

The one who can’t get out of bed sometimes. The feeling of anxiety is so paralyzing that the days I spend in bed aren’t ones to envy.

They’re scary. They’re heartbreaking. They’re moments I don’t wish on anyone else.

The one who is always in therapy. While I’ve learned so many tactics, I just wish sometimes I didn’t have to ask for time off in order to get these appointments in. I wish I didn’t have to go to work and explain to my manager why I need weekly reoccurring time off during business hours.

The one who sometimes has to convince themselves that life is worth living. That even though right now things are not going according to plan or not perfect, that I’ll be all right. I know logically that nothing in my life is that deep but I can’t pull myself back sometimes and remember that this too shall pass. But every time I do, I celebrate the fact I made it through another day.

The one who talks about their mental illness so openly that people often question its validity. Out of respect for all people living with mental illness, when you tell us we’re faking it or we’re exaggerating, you’re hurting us. You’re making it feel like it is something we can’t talk about. And that really sucks.

The one who just feels like they’re not “normal” because the stigma around mental illness is still there. We’re still not talking about this enough. We’re not educating teenagers that sometimes it’s not hormones. We’re sympathizing where we should be empathizing. We have made some amazing leaps and bounds in creating safe places for everyone with mental illnesses, but we still have a way to go.

Don’t stop talking about mental health. Don’t stop fighting. Just don’t stop.

I don’t want to be that person but I am that person.

I am a person who stands up and talks about their struggles with mental health. There are times it gets to me that people belittle my illness or make it seem like I’m inflating a scenario in order to gain attention. There are times when I really, really don’t want to be the girl who has anxiety or depression.

I don’t want to be that person but I am that person. So I will continue to be that person. When things get tough, I remember that I am a warrior and I will forever be open to discuss my struggles with anyone.

Let’s keep the conversation of mental illness going and let’s crush the stigmas together.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Unsplash photo via Alex Jones

Originally published: May 17, 2017
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