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To My Family: What It Really Means When I Say 'I'm Stressed'

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You hear me say, “I’m stressed out,” quite often. Yes, I see the eye rolls and I hear the “whatever’s.” But what I don’t think you all understand is this is real for me. I live with anxiety and depression every day and have for a long time. I do take medication to help with both, but it is not a cure all. I still have to make it through each day and night without melting down.

I know it is hard for you to understand when you do not suffer from either of these illnesses (thankfully,) but it’s real. When you kids fight, or don’t listen to me, it affects me more then you can imagine. I tell myself, “Kids are kids and this is how they act. Why can’t I just accept it and not let it get to me? Why? Why do I feel the blood in my body creeping up from my chest to my neck to my face to my head? Why can’t I just take the deep breath and make it stop?” I get angry and start to yell or I walk away, feeling defeated and like the worst mother in the world.

In you walk, my husband, from your day at work to chaos at home and me shaking my head.

“I don’t know what to do. I can’t handle this!” I say.

You tell me to relax and to stop letting the kids walk all over me.

“Snap out of it,” you say.

Although I try, it’s just not that simple. It’s much easier to go get lost in a book and pretend everything is normal and OK.

Some days I can manage the challenge of the day. I can face it head on, but on those days, I am waiting for the anxiety to creep in or for something to set off my depression. It can come in waves. I have no control, even when I try. I put on a big smile, say hello to everyone I see, go to work and seem perfectly fine to the people I encounter during my day.

You are my family and I need you to understand my struggles and my feelings. Sometimes I feel like I have no one. I feel like I have no cheering section and nobody telling me, “Great job, today. I’m sure it wasn’t easy.” Trust me, not every day is like this, but I just never know how the day is going to go and what (if anything) could set me off.

Please, know I love you all and I do feel blessed to have each of you. I’m sorry I yell, overreact and shut down sometimes. Also, know that if I didn’t have you, I don’t know where my life would be.

Originally published: July 8, 2016
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