Elizabeth Mosley-Banks

@uncustomaryhousewife | contributor
Hello, my name is Elizabeth, and I'm the creator of the Uncustomary Housewife Blog. I write about Mental Health, Geek Chronicles, Housewife Confessions, Farmhouse Recipes, Kindness... and Beyond.
Community Voices

10 “Harmless Things” You Say That Hurt Me

I’m

letting my heart spill out through my keyboard… metaphorically, of course, and

I’m offering it all to you. Today, I’m going to talk about my #MentalHealth.

This is something that I’ve worked to conceal for a long time, mostly because

of the negative stigma attached to mental illness. I’m sharing for two main

reasons; (1) to educate people, and (2) to show people like me that they are

not alone.

For the record: I’m living

with #BipolarDisorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder… In this post I’m

sharing 10 “harmless things” that people have said to me that actually

cause me a great deal of pain. I’m also sharing how they make me feel, and why,

while giving you an inside look at my life.

So, these are the things I

wish you wouldn’t say to me;

“You don’t look like you have a mental illness.”

More commonly stated as; “you don’t look depressed” or “but, you look so

normal”.

Please, tell me, what is a

bipolar person supposed to look like? What is a depressed person supposed to

look like?

Yes, you see me standing in

the grocery store, politely smiling and nodding at people… and you think to

yourself “she looks completely normal”… What you don’t see is the conflict

inside me, and how painful my smile sometimes is.

You see a smiling woman. You

didn’t see me last night, when I had a panic attack while making my shopping

list. You didn’t see me 30 minutes ago, when I prayed and gave myself a pep

talk in the car. You didn’t see me 10 minutes ago, when I put my earbuds in and

turned on music to avoid an embarrassing public #Anxiety attack.

No, you just see a happy woman shopping for avocado and white onion… You see no

indication of the chaos and panic going on inside my mind, because I work super

hard to keep it all inside.

bipolar, Obsessive

Compulsive Disorder, and #SocialAnxiety Disorder are all invisible illnesses.

So, what am I supposed to look like?

“I wish I was manic; I’d get so much done.”

With all due respect, no. If you understood what mania was you would never wish

for it. Seriously, I wouldn’t wish a manic episode on my worst enemy.

Being stuck inside of a

manic episode can be an emotionally debilitating experience; it’s painful,

exhausting, and completely illogical. Imagine having a swarm of rabid

bumblebees trapped inside your head. There are hundreds of buzzing bees, and

every single bee has its own project to do. Every bumblebee project is emergent

and needs to be completed, in its entirety, immediately. So you spend hours,

days, or maybe even weeks aimlessly running around in an unrealistic fashion

trying to complete all the bizarre bumblebee tasks.

It’s not efficient. It’s

stressful and it can cause major life impairment, so stop wishing for it.

mania is an illness.

You wouldn’t tell someone with #Cancer “I wish I could have chemo, I’d lose so

much weight” would you? No. You wouldn’t. Because it would be rude and

insensitive. So stop it.

“You just need a hobby.”

I wish it could be that simple. I’ve had enough hobbies for 5 lifetimes, and

guess what: I’m still , I still have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and

I’m still a prisoner to social anxiety. I’ve tried painting, biking, yoga,

running, weight lifting, hiking, fishing, spectator sports, journaling,

photography, coloring, you name it… and, sure, sometimes a hobby can be a nice

distraction, but more often than not a hobby can cause additional anxiety.

For example, a few months

ago I tried to join a comic book reading group. I mean, I absolutely love comic

books, so it seemed perfect. I bought the comic books, read them, re-read them,

wrote detailed notes, researched the comics, developed questions, and talking

points for the group discussion. On the day of the group I got dressed (in a

t-shirt that matched the comic), put the comics in my backpack, and proceeded

to have an absolute meltdown because of unknowns: how many people would be at

the group, what if I didn’t know anyone, or (even worse) what if I did know

someone and they didn’t like me, what if my talking points weren’t good enough?

My anxiety became an endless thought spiral that I couldn’t control. Thus

turning my hobby into an additional cause of , which ultimately resulted

in a full-blown attack, hours of crying, and me not leaving the house

for days.

The “you just need a hobby”

comment is particularly hurtful because it invalidates the seriousness of my

illness. Like, my will be miraculously cured if I

take up knitting? No.

“Have you tried praying about it?”

Yes. The answer is yes. I pray constantly.

I pray that God will give me the strength to get out of bed to feed and care

for my dogs when I’m having an episode of #Depression.

I pray that God will steady my voice, so I won’t constantly over talk others

when I’m stuck in an episode of .

I pray that God will strengthen my resolve when I have racing thoughts of

worthlessness that could lead to #Selfharm.

I pray that God will help me be strong, and learn to control my emotions, so I

can be a mother someday.

I also pray about hundreds of things that have nothing to do with my mental

illness.

So, yes, I pray.

These “prayer” comments

hurt, they really hurt. For example, a few weeks ago I posted a blog about my

struggle with depression, someone who read it said to me; “that’s you letting

the devil in, you have to pray harder.” That comment hit me like a punch

directly to the gut; upon hearing it I immediately got dizzy, nauseous, and frantic.

I know, I know, their comment probably came from a good place… But it made me

feel so empty.

My is not caused by the absence of God, or

presence of the devil… it’s a chemical imbalance that I’ll have to live with

during my time on Earth, regardless of my relationship with God. Sure, a strong

relationship with God makes everything more bearable, but praying won’t make my

go away. Praying, will, however, help me become stronger in

facing the adversity that life has given me. So I pray.

“Everybody gets sad/stressed sometimes, it doesn’t mean you have a

.”

This is important, so pay attention: sadness is not the same as depression, and

stress is not the same as . Additionally, this statement is hurtful because

it means that you don’t take my illness seriously. For example: you wouldn’t

say to a person with #Lupus; “everyone get sunburn, that doesn’t mean you have

Lupus” would you? No, hopefully you wouldn’t, because that statement is both

senseless and uneducated.

Sadness is a normal human

emotion. , on the other hand, is an abnormal emotional state caused

by a .

Sad people are sad because something happened that caused their sadness; it

could be something huge (like the loss of a loved one), or something small

(like a bad first date), and sadness normally lasts a reasonable amount of

time. Whereas needs no cause or invitation, it just happens,

completely unsolicited… and there is no logic or rational thought behind how long

it sticks around. Sure, can be triggered by a sad event, and severe

sadness can lead to a form or , but that’s an entirely different

conversation.

Sad people are sad. People with experience deep feelings of

worthlessness, difficulty in concentration and connectivity, decreased pleasure

in things that are normally pleasurable, a lack in concern for personal

hygiene, and even thoughts of #Suicide or self-harm.

Example: If I was simply sad (from a breakup, or whatever) I’d eat a pint of

ice cream with my friends, cry a little, maybe get a haircut, and binge-watch a

TV show. If I was experiencing , I would let the ice cream melt on

the countertop, ignore my friends calls (for days, or even weeks), forget to

shower or brush my hair (for days, or even weeks), and I wouldn’t be able to

binge-watch, because TV shows probably wouldn’t bring me joy… I’d just sit, or

lay, numb to the world, in a worthless state of “blah”. See the difference?

I guess you could put it this way: Sadness is feeling sad. is

feeling nothing, at all.

Stress originates from the

pressures that a person feels in their everyday life; you have a deadline

approaching, your child has two bake sales and a school dance this week, you

got a flat tire on the way to work, etc… With stress, once the obstacle is

achieved the emotion (stress) disappears, until it reappears because of another

stressful obstacle; the bake sale is over, so the “bake sale stress” leaves,

and on-and-on-and-so-forth. , however, doesn’t work so conveniently:

true will continue after the stressor is gone, or will originate

out of nowhere when it doesn’t even seem like there is a stressor around.

When you’re stressed you can feel overwhelmed for a short or extended period of

time. When you’re having you can experience a debilitating state of

emotions. I normally call these emotions “crippling vertigo spirals” [patent

pending]; I get faint, dizzy, and nauseous, I feel an intense amount of terror,

followed quickly by chest pains, and cold sweats, my mind begins racing wildly,

and I can’t calm down. If I’m in a private place (like my home) I immediately

sit down and begin my calming techniques, but if I’m in a public place (like a

movie theater or shopping mall) my small attack can turn into an

episode, and it’s a horrible and helpless, situation – “crippling vertigo

spiral” is really the only words I can find to describe it.

Back to the comment: by

saying “everyone gets sad” or “everyone gets stressed” you are erasing the

validity of my illness. You are basically saying that my illness doesn’t exist

to you. I have a real illness, please don’t belittle or invalidate it in such a

casual way. It’s real. I live with it every day.

“But your life is perfect, you have nothing to be depressed about.”

This statement is just ridiculous.

Carrie Fisher had

Disorder.

Melissa Benoist struggles with .

Lady Gaga has #Fibromyalgia.

Chrissy Teigen struggled with Postpartum .

Michael Phelps has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

Daniel Radcliffe has .

My Favorite Advisor from College has Lupus.

All of those amazing people

live seemingly normal lives. All of those people inspire happiness in others.

All of those people seem like they live perfect lives; Princess Leia,

Supergirl, an Olympian, Harry Potter… All of those people, including me, have

an invisible illness. We live with it. We look normal. But the illness is

there, and it is the illness inside us that causes our symptoms, not the life

around us. So, we look normal. So what?

“You must be manic right now.”

I normally hear this when I’m excited about something. Sometimes people confuse

genuine excitement for a . For example, I’ll start talking, passionately,

about a book or movie release and someone will stop me and say, “calm down,

you’re a little too right now.” No, I’m just excited. I’m allowed to be

excited about things, just like everyone else.

This is one of the biggest

buzzkills ever.

“At least there’s nothing physically wrong with you.”

This statement makes me want to scream. It’s just awful. I don’t even know how

to explain how awful this is.

First off, I don’t like the latter part of the statement; “wrong with you”.

There is nothing “wrong with me”, I’m just me. I have an illness, it’s there,

and I’m fine with it.

Second, what do you mean by “physically wrong”? Because there are MANY physical

symptoms of my illness.

My Physical Stuff:

Obsessive Skin Picking: A few years ago my #Dermatillomania got so bad that I

almost lost a finger due to a really bad infection. My obsessive compulsion, at

the time, was skin picking, and I couldn’t stop picking at my hands… and I

don’t mean picking a hangnail; I mean digging relentlessly at gaping wounds on

my hands. It was painful, bloody, and awful. It took therapy, trials with many

medications, and years of practice to calm the compulsion down. Now I get fake

nails put on bi-monthly because it’s more difficult to pick with acrylic nails.

The obsession is still there. I carry Band-Aids and gloves in my purse, so I

can put them on when I start picking. Mainly so I won’t get blood all over

everything. Is that physical enough for you?

Obsessive Teeth Grinding: My causes such bad night terrors that I’ve

actually cracked my teeth in my sleep. I often wake up with a bloody mouth. I

recently got a mouth guard to wear at night, so I don’t break all my teeth.

Related Hives: They look a lot like poison ivy. Actually, once in

college I had a really bad attack and broke out in hives. I thought it

was poison ivy, so I covered myself in calamine lotion. Then, I fell asleep

because I was so exhausted from the attack. When I woke up I realized

that I was late for volleyball practice, so I rushed to practice – still

covered in the calamine lotion… I told my teammates that I had poison ivy, but

to my amazement the hives were gone… my teammates got mad, and thought I was

making an excuse for being late. It wasn’t until a few years later that I discovered

they were hives. I get them all the time, they are huge, ugly, and they

itch like crazy, but they go away after an hour-or-so. I never told my

teammates, or my coach the truth (because I was so embarrassed about my

disorder)… they will find out, now, if they are reading this.

Post-Mania Pain: When I’m it’s like I’m trapped underwater, holding my

breath. It causes all my bones and muscles to tense up. So, when my

finally goes away I’m left with the aftermath of my own body, and it’s often

excruciating. Joint pain. Muscle pain. Headaches from teeth grinding.

Dehydration from panicked breathing. Post-Mania body pain is one of my absolute

least favorite parts of life. I don’t wanna put into words how painful it can

be.

I’m gonna stop there, because I’m not mentally ready to share other physical

side-effects with you… maybe someday.

But, for the record: sure, I

don’t have the stereotypical characteristics of someone with an obvious

physical impairment or #Disability… But that still isn’t a fair comparison. It

isn’t fair to me, and it isn’t fair to people who live with a physical

impairment. So, STOP USING THE WORD “WRONG”. Just stop.

“Have you tried herbal remedies?”

More commonly stated as; “I sell _______, and I bet it could help you with your

.”

These conversations are always super awkward. Someone will say; “oh, my cousin

was super stressed too, then she tried lavender essential oils, and she’s all

good now. I can sell you some essential oils for your stress.”

First, I’ll say it again:

stress is not the same as a social anxiety disorder. Second, I believe that

herbal remedies can, indeed, help people with mental illnesses… But, with that

being said, people try to heal my disorders with stuff they are selling WAY TOO

OFTEN… and it’s reached an insensitive level.

What am I supposed to say in

reply to these “door-to-door experts”? Let’s take a look at my

options;

Option 1: “I’m glad oils helped your stressed cousin, but I’m not stressed, I

have a severe disorder, it’s an actual chemical imbalance in my

brain.”

Why Option 1 Doesn’t Work: It almost always results in someone, with no medical

training, explaining my medical condition to me… normally in a belittling

voice. Followed by “lavender essential oils will fix you right up”.

Option 2: “I would like to consult my physician before I start a treatment.”

Why Option 2 Doesn’t Work: When I use Option 2 I normally receive a reply like

this “My product is recommended by doctors, my friend is a PA, and he

recommends it to everyone. I’ll get you set up with a discounted sample trial.

You’ll love it.”

You wouldn’t tell someone

with to “just use sunscreen”, would you? So stop assuming my

Disorder or can be cured by a yearly supply of

whatever product you’re selling… its insensitive, and hurtful.

Public Service Announcement:

If you wanna sell something to me, just pitch it, you don’t have to bring up my

illness… I like the smell of pumpkin… so run with that. I’ll probably end up

buying something from you.

“At least you don’t have kids, then you’d be really stressed.” or “Good thing you’re not a

mother, you wouldn’t be able to handle it.”

This is the worst type of comment. By far. I want to be a mother more than

anything in the entire world… and I can’t, for the life of me, understand why

people think this statement is appropriate. It’s not appropriate, in the

slightest. It’s cruel and awful. I’m a capable human. A very capable human,

actually. I share my struggles so other people can see that they are not alone.

I share my insecurities so other people can find strength in them. I don’t

share my illness so “Susan at the bake sale” can tell me that I would be an

unfit mother…

If God blesses me with a

baby someday I’ll be a fit mother. I’ll put that child’s needs before my own

every single day. I will be a wonderful and capable mother. A mother that just

so happens to be living with and obsessive compulsive

disorder. If God gives my husband and I a child we will be amazing parents… and

shame on you, “Susan”, for lumping my in a ball with parental

stress.

I know stressors will come

with parenthood, but I will conquer them all, in stride.

*“Susan” represents a

wide-variety of people who have told me not to become a mother because of my

. None of those people are actually named Susan, and none of the

conversations happened at a bake sale.

Curtain Call: In Conclusion

If you’ve ever said one of these things to me, there is absolutely no need to

apologize. You didn’t understand then, but now you do. Also, if you feel

offended because I “called you out”, I’m sorry… But, I’m advocating for myself.

My intention was never to offend or hurt anyone, ever. I just want kindness,

awareness, and acceptance.

If you’re living with

, , Disorder, or

anything outside of that, or in between, always remember that you have survived

100% of your toughest days, and there is an entire world full of people who are

on your team. Never, ever, ever, give up. You matter.

Sincerely, Elizabeth (the

Uncustomary Housewife)

12 Fictional Characters People With Bipolar Disorder Relate To

When you live with bipolar disorder but don’t have friends who share your experience, it can get pretty lonely. It’s all good to hear someone say, “You’re not alone,” but until you see the proof in that — until you find a community of people struggling as you struggle, in the same subtle, infuriating ways — they sound just like meaningless words. They’re not, of course; every one of you reading this article is never alone, and you’re not even alone in believing you are alone, but that can be so hard to believe. That’s why fiction is important. Even if a fictional character doesn’t have bipolar disorder in their canon, their struggles and actions can seem pretty relatable. From singular, shifting protagonists to dichotomies between opposing characters, we asked our mental health community for the fictional characters they relate to if they live with bipolar disorder. If you haven’t checked out anything from the following list, then we hope you relate to it too. Here’s what our community had to say: 1. Sadness and Joy from “Inside Out” via “Inside Out” Facebook page “Sadness and Joy. One extreme to the other. ‘Inside Out’ really resonates with me. It’s one of my favorite movies because of how much it can relate and apply to different mental illnesses.” — Rebecca B. 2. Elphaba from “Wicked” via “Wicked” Facebook page “This is weird but: Elphaba (the witch) from ‘Wicked.’ She was born different and was bullied horribly because of it, but nobody knew how amazing she was. She was misunderstood, strong and smart. She pretended not to care what anyone thought, but cared a lot. She says, ‘Do you think I want be to be this way? Do you think I want to care this much? Do you think I don’t know how much easier my life would be if I didn’t?’ I cried during the finale. The whole play gave me hope; it changed my life. If you’ve ever been bullied, you should see it.” — Ashley T. 3. Alice from “Alice in Wonderland” via Wikimedia Commons “’Alice in Wonderland.’ I never quite know what’s going on, but I impulsively do whatever feels right at the time without regard for the ensuing consequences. Then, I am plunged into the dark hole of depressive episodes where I feel like I’m huge in a tiny world and everything is suffocating me. When I come out of depression, it is as if I’m waking from a dream.” — Elizabeth A. 4. Eeyore and Tigger from “Winnie the Pooh” via “Winnie the Pooh” Facebook page “Eeyore when I’m depressed, Tigger when I’m manic because he bounces around with lots of energy.” — Beth O. 5. SpongeBob from “SpongeBob SquarePants” via “SpongeBob SquarePants” Facebook page “SpongeBob. The little dude goes from being on top of the world to crying on the floor of his pineapple so fast.” — Julia G. 6. Remus Lupin from “Harry Potter” via “Harry Potter” Facebook page “Remus Lupin, the werewolf being my mania and the transformation back being my depressive states. And our shared love for chocolate.” — Wisely Chow. 7. Harley Quinn from “Suicide Squad” via “Suicide Squad” Facebook page “Harley Quinn. Her emotions are on extreme ends of the spectrum. Like mine.” — Krystal T. 8. Loki from the Marvel Cinematic Universe via “Avengers” Facebook page “Loki. He seems like he’s trying and he makes the wrong choices trying to do what he thinks is good. When he’s not manic and calmly listens, he can be a steadfast ally.” — Janie A. 9. Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” via “Frozen” Facebook page “I can’t pick one character, but I will pick two from the same movie: ‘Frozen.’ When I’m manic, I’m Anna. I’m trying to do everything and be social. I’m always trying to put my best face forward. When I’m depressed, I’m Elsa. I keep people away from me and hurt people I love. I know I have to be the best me I can be, but I isolate myself.” — Kat C. 10. Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” via Wikimedia Commons “In the novella, Hyde is Jekyll without inhibitions — like mania feels to me. When he’s himself, Jekyll swings from gregarious to self-isolating (due to his uncontrolled actions as Hyde and his fear of his friends learning of his transformation). He also continues to encourage Hyde because he enjoys the freedom from consequences it gives him, until Hyde crosses a line and Jekyll realizes he’s out of control.” — Todd G. 11. Esther Greenwood from Sylvia Plath’s “The Bell Jar” via Sylvia Plath Facebook page “Esther Greenwood all the way. She feels everything way too much, wants everything but is content with nothing, can never make up her mind, damages her relationships, acts impulsively, goes to great lengths to develop a true understanding of herself but never quite gets there… she’s incredibly intelligent and introspective, overanalyzes everything and faces a lot of challenges with her depression. The part where she stops her suicide attempt because she hears her own heartbeat will always be so chilling to me. Sylvia herself was suspected to have had bipolar disorder and it’s reflected in her work, so I can identify with a lot of it.” — Taylor A. 12. Darth Vader from “Star Wars” via “Star Wars” YouTube “Darth Vader. Conflicted with being consumed by good — ‘the force’ — and ‘the dark side.’ He ultimately ends up being all-consumed and burning alive instead of dying, using the pain to survive and finding the power within to have even more confidence and success than before.” — Sarah M. What would you add?

Bipolar Disorder and Losing Friends

I read Meghan Camello’s “To the Friends Who Left Because of my Mental Illness” at the perfect time. I’d been thinking a lot about friends who’d faded from my life, who stopped interacting with me on social media, who never sent me a wedding invitation, who — last straw — dropped me after I made an ass out of myself by drinking too much. This is not a sympathy grab but an honest glimpse at the toll bipolar disorder takes on my friendships. Someone once said losing a friend is worse than losing a lover. I agree. What are the odds you’ll find “the one” on the first try? We expect to lose lovers. We don’t expect to lose friends. We assume friends will be around forever. We don’t expect friends to block us on Facebook or not invite us to their wedding. I share the blame. I can be a difficult friend. I’m bipolar, but I’m responsible for managing my illness, though my brain makes it difficult. I’m a professor. Sometimes, teaching is the only reason I leave the house. Teaching forces me to perform, which means I’m exhausted at the end of the day. Off the clock or during summer, my voice changes to a whisper. My face slackens. Cashiers ask me to repeat myself. I look down. It hurts to speak. I sound like a boy. When manic or hypomanic, I can’t stop talking. I’m the life of the party. Teaching is easy. In college, people went out of their way to invite me to parties because, “Fish is so much fun.” I am no longer the whispering boy with a slackened face. I am the confident man with a sensuous voice women love. I remember one woman saying, over the phone, “Just talk.” Mania makes me magnetic. I own the room. Anything’s possible. I don’t party much now, but two years ago at a writer’s conference, I drank liquor with my meds and embarrassed a friend of six years who’d had enough of my intense mood swings. We no longer communicate and are blocked on social media. I’ve made tremendous strides in my treatment since we fell out. I diligently take my meds, which have taken the edge off my symptoms. My psychiatrist is proud of me. I stopped drinking liquor and only drink beer, slow and steady, content with an easy, simmering buzz that doesn’t render me incoherent and unable to walk straight. To my friends who were tired of me disappearing for long stretches when depressed or friends fed up with my erratic behavior, I’m sorry. I wish you were still around. It’s hard making new friends as an itinerant professor. I’ve moved five times since 2012 — five different states! You know I’m bipolar, but do you know I sometimes resent it? You know bipolar put me in a state mental hospital as a teen, but do you know my biggest worry was what my friends back home thought? Do you know I concocted lies to protect my secret? Do you know I wondered why my commitment was “shameful” when my health was improving? Do you know with each failed friendship, I become more paranoid I’ll fuck up the next one? Do you know I try my best to learn from my mistakes, despite my brain and stigma conspiring against me? Do you know I would give anything to take back the times I disappointed you? Will you at least read this? I hope so. It’s proof of my existence. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo by XiFotos

How Ryan Reynolds Helped Me Accept My Anxiety

During the winter of 2016, I was an absolute train wreck. I was coping with the aftershock of a nervous breakdown and working overtime to make sure no one knew about it. I had created an invisibility cloak for myself; a cloak fashioned from red wine, junk food and an incalculable amount of days spent on the couch. It was self-sabotage at its finest. I gained weight, overnight it seemed, and I blacklisted everyone who cared about me. My husband, try as he might, couldn’t pull me out of my downward spiral. I was ready to completely disappear, and I was convinced no one would notice. In my mind I had fallen too far, and standing back up was impossible. I also equated my mental health issues with weakness, which debilitated my situation even further. I had given up, and in my mind I was weak. Now, on to the Ryan Reynolds of it all. My memories from that block of time are fleeting. Think about the way you remember a nightmare, weeks after you’ve had it: you can recall the cold sweat and misery of it all, but not the details… and the details you can recall don’t add up. There is only one thing I remember clearly: Ryan Reynolds could always make me laugh. I bet I watched “The Voices” and “Deadpool” at least once a day, every day, for several months. No joke. I was numb to the world, but I remember Ryan Reynolds. In December of that year Ryan Reynolds was on the cover of GQ’s “Men of the Year” Magazine, and, of course, my husband got a copy for me. Honestly, my husband would have done anything to pull me out of my depression. I assumed the article would be full of Wade-Wilson-flavored sarcasm and quirky comedy riddled photos, and I was right; the article was endearingly funny, and the photos were hilariously frame-worthy. However, while reading I stumbled upon a very small statement that, dare I say, changed my life. Ryan Reynolds was talking about his reaction when “Deadpool” was finished, and he said the following: “I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown. I literally had the shakes. I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something. And every doctor I saw said, ‘You have anxiety.’” I read the paragraph several times. I had been virtually emotionless for months, and suddenly I felt the overwhelming desire to cry. I broke the statuesque depression I had been fossilized in, and I cried. I felt so relieved. For the first time since my depression spiral I didn’t feel like my mental illness was a result of weakness. I mean, if someone like Ryan Reynolds could hit a wall, then maybe it was OK, right? As odd as it sounds, reading that Ryan Reynolds had anxiety strengthened me. It normalized my situation. There is a quote in “Deadpool” — “Life is an endless series of train wrecks with only brief, commercial-like breaks of happiness.” That quote summarizes the way anxiety makes me feel. Happiness is never “just happiness” with me. For me, happiness always comes riddled with anxiety about when the happiness will end, and why. It’s an overwhelming and constant fear that is ever-so-present in my life. Over the next few weeks I started living a semi-functional life again… and “Deadpool” became my anxiety totem: the thing I used to normalize my irrational fears. And I mean that literally. I literally carried around a little Deadpool figure to fidget with during my anxiety trails. I even put “Deadpool” (the soundtrack and the film) on my phone. It helped me normalize many stressful situations… and, as time passed, I began to accept that anxiety was a part of my life, and not a weakness. Skip to present day. I’m not ashamed of my mental health anymore, and I don’t see it as a weakness. I’ve even started sharing about it on my blog; I’ve written about things that help me, things that hurt me, I’ve even written about depression. Thanks to Ryan Reynolds, I’ve learned to accept and love this part of myself. However, it hasn’t been easy… it’s taken a lot of practice, self-care, diet, exercise, meditation and discipline, and my success has been accompanied by many set-backs… but I’m growing. And, thankfully, my mental health journey with Ryan Reynolds doesn’t end there. My husband and I recently went to New York City to watch a few Broadway plays. On our first morning there I woke up super excited… But, like most people in this technological society, I checked my phone before getting out of bed. The first thing I saw was a New York Times article titled, “This Story Has Already Stressed Ryan Reynolds Out.” The article offered a more intimate look at Ryan Reynolds’ anxiety, and I found myself trembling as I read his words: “I have anxiety, I’ve always had anxiety. Both in the lighthearted ‘I’m anxious about this’ kind of thing, and I’ve been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun.” I sat in bed, thinking and reminding myself, “Ryan Reynolds, a man who has helped pull me out of my own darkness, countless times, has heartbreaking darkness of his own. He goes through some of the same horrible stuff I go through.” I didn’t know if I should smile, cry or watch “Deadpool” again. (Note: the answer is always “watch Deadpool again.”) To be completely honest, I’ve been dealing with a tremendous amount of anxiety lately, perhaps more than I’ve ever faced… I’ve actually been concerned my anxiety attacks and irrational fears have been getting worse. But as I read that article I felt strength and confidence entering my body. I re-read it, and I focused on one sentence; “he [Ryan Reynolds] gets racked by dread and nausea before every talk-show appearance and becomes quite convinced he might die.” I started thinking about my own daily dread, my own nausea and my own “this anxiety attack might kill me/my heart might actually explode” feelings; feelings that I experience far too often. Once again, Ryan Reynolds had met me right when I needed him… and he normalized my irrational anxiety fears. I mean, if someone like Ryan Reynolds could be racked by dread, anxiety and nausea, then it’s OK, right? Maybe I’ll be OK. I continued to read, and I discovered he went through a “true unhinged phase” in his early 20s. He stated he was partying in an attempt to make himself vanish in some way. I was immediately taken back to my “red-wine-winter of 2016″ and my notorious red wine vanishing act. Ryan Reynolds continued to explain that “he frequently awoke in the middle of the night, paralyzed by anxiety, agonizing about his future.” After reading this I paused, and actually said out loud, “Me too, Ryan, me too.” Something beautiful happened for me in that moment… I’m not sure what it was. I guess you could say I quit hating my anxiety. I accepted it. This may seem silly, that the words of an actor mean so much to me, but they do. They mean a tremendous amount to me. Probably more than you could imagine. When I was in the depths of darkness and depression, Ryan Reynolds could make me smile… and that’s worth something. When I felt worthless, Ryan Reynolds told people about his anxiety, and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone… and that’s priceless. Ryan Reynolds once said, “Laughing can serve you in dark moments, and help you crawl back out,” and that’s exactly what he has done for me. Actually, that quote is the background image on my computer. And, my mini-Deadpool anxiety totem has been a lot of cool places. He’s been to California where I got to see Ryan Reynolds’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He’s been to multiple comic book and horror film conventions, normally on my Wonder Woman backpack — which, I know, is a DC/Marvel Universe crossover, but I think Wade Wilson would be fine with it. He recently went to New York City with me, and you can tell by the chipped paint on his eyeballs he’s been through some anxiety-riddled times. But mini-Deadpool doesn’t only go fun places, like NASCAR, Hollywood and New York City. He goes normal places too, like the grocery store. And I know, I’m an adult woman, but I carry him around because he reminds me it’s OK to be flawed. He reminds me even super awesome people like Ryan Reynolds are flawed and messed up at times, and that’s OK. So, like Wade Wilson, I will approach life with Maximum Effort… and take my mental health one day at a time. Follow this journey on Uncustomary Housewife. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .

How Ryan Reynolds Helped Me Accept My Anxiety

During the winter of 2016, I was an absolute train wreck. I was coping with the aftershock of a nervous breakdown and working overtime to make sure no one knew about it. I had created an invisibility cloak for myself; a cloak fashioned from red wine, junk food and an incalculable amount of days spent on the couch. It was self-sabotage at its finest. I gained weight, overnight it seemed, and I blacklisted everyone who cared about me. My husband, try as he might, couldn’t pull me out of my downward spiral. I was ready to completely disappear, and I was convinced no one would notice. In my mind I had fallen too far, and standing back up was impossible. I also equated my mental health issues with weakness, which debilitated my situation even further. I had given up, and in my mind I was weak. Now, on to the Ryan Reynolds of it all. My memories from that block of time are fleeting. Think about the way you remember a nightmare, weeks after you’ve had it: you can recall the cold sweat and misery of it all, but not the details… and the details you can recall don’t add up. There is only one thing I remember clearly: Ryan Reynolds could always make me laugh. I bet I watched “The Voices” and “Deadpool” at least once a day, every day, for several months. No joke. I was numb to the world, but I remember Ryan Reynolds. In December of that year Ryan Reynolds was on the cover of GQ’s “Men of the Year” Magazine, and, of course, my husband got a copy for me. Honestly, my husband would have done anything to pull me out of my depression. I assumed the article would be full of Wade-Wilson-flavored sarcasm and quirky comedy riddled photos, and I was right; the article was endearingly funny, and the photos were hilariously frame-worthy. However, while reading I stumbled upon a very small statement that, dare I say, changed my life. Ryan Reynolds was talking about his reaction when “Deadpool” was finished, and he said the following: “I had a little bit of a nervous breakdown. I literally had the shakes. I went to go see a doctor because I felt like I was suffering from a neurological problem or something. And every doctor I saw said, ‘You have anxiety.’” I read the paragraph several times. I had been virtually emotionless for months, and suddenly I felt the overwhelming desire to cry. I broke the statuesque depression I had been fossilized in, and I cried. I felt so relieved. For the first time since my depression spiral I didn’t feel like my mental illness was a result of weakness. I mean, if someone like Ryan Reynolds could hit a wall, then maybe it was OK, right? As odd as it sounds, reading that Ryan Reynolds had anxiety strengthened me. It normalized my situation. There is a quote in “Deadpool” — “Life is an endless series of train wrecks with only brief, commercial-like breaks of happiness.” That quote summarizes the way anxiety makes me feel. Happiness is never “just happiness” with me. For me, happiness always comes riddled with anxiety about when the happiness will end, and why. It’s an overwhelming and constant fear that is ever-so-present in my life. Over the next few weeks I started living a semi-functional life again… and “Deadpool” became my anxiety totem: the thing I used to normalize my irrational fears. And I mean that literally. I literally carried around a little Deadpool figure to fidget with during my anxiety trails. I even put “Deadpool” (the soundtrack and the film) on my phone. It helped me normalize many stressful situations… and, as time passed, I began to accept that anxiety was a part of my life, and not a weakness. Skip to present day. I’m not ashamed of my mental health anymore, and I don’t see it as a weakness. I’ve even started sharing about it on my blog; I’ve written about things that help me, things that hurt me, I’ve even written about depression. Thanks to Ryan Reynolds, I’ve learned to accept and love this part of myself. However, it hasn’t been easy… it’s taken a lot of practice, self-care, diet, exercise, meditation and discipline, and my success has been accompanied by many set-backs… but I’m growing. And, thankfully, my mental health journey with Ryan Reynolds doesn’t end there. My husband and I recently went to New York City to watch a few Broadway plays. On our first morning there I woke up super excited… But, like most people in this technological society, I checked my phone before getting out of bed. The first thing I saw was a New York Times article titled, “This Story Has Already Stressed Ryan Reynolds Out.” The article offered a more intimate look at Ryan Reynolds’ anxiety, and I found myself trembling as I read his words: “I have anxiety, I’ve always had anxiety. Both in the lighthearted ‘I’m anxious about this’ kind of thing, and I’ve been to the depths of the darker end of the spectrum, which is not fun.” I sat in bed, thinking and reminding myself, “Ryan Reynolds, a man who has helped pull me out of my own darkness, countless times, has heartbreaking darkness of his own. He goes through some of the same horrible stuff I go through.” I didn’t know if I should smile, cry or watch “Deadpool” again. (Note: the answer is always “watch Deadpool again.”) To be completely honest, I’ve been dealing with a tremendous amount of anxiety lately, perhaps more than I’ve ever faced… I’ve actually been concerned my anxiety attacks and irrational fears have been getting worse. But as I read that article I felt strength and confidence entering my body. I re-read it, and I focused on one sentence; “he [Ryan Reynolds] gets racked by dread and nausea before every talk-show appearance and becomes quite convinced he might die.” I started thinking about my own daily dread, my own nausea and my own “this anxiety attack might kill me/my heart might actually explode” feelings; feelings that I experience far too often. Once again, Ryan Reynolds had met me right when I needed him… and he normalized my irrational anxiety fears. I mean, if someone like Ryan Reynolds could be racked by dread, anxiety and nausea, then it’s OK, right? Maybe I’ll be OK. I continued to read, and I discovered he went through a “true unhinged phase” in his early 20s. He stated he was partying in an attempt to make himself vanish in some way. I was immediately taken back to my “red-wine-winter of 2016″ and my notorious red wine vanishing act. Ryan Reynolds continued to explain that “he frequently awoke in the middle of the night, paralyzed by anxiety, agonizing about his future.” After reading this I paused, and actually said out loud, “Me too, Ryan, me too.” Something beautiful happened for me in that moment… I’m not sure what it was. I guess you could say I quit hating my anxiety. I accepted it. This may seem silly, that the words of an actor mean so much to me, but they do. They mean a tremendous amount to me. Probably more than you could imagine. When I was in the depths of darkness and depression, Ryan Reynolds could make me smile… and that’s worth something. When I felt worthless, Ryan Reynolds told people about his anxiety, and it made me feel like I wasn’t alone… and that’s priceless. Ryan Reynolds once said, “Laughing can serve you in dark moments, and help you crawl back out,” and that’s exactly what he has done for me. Actually, that quote is the background image on my computer. And, my mini-Deadpool anxiety totem has been a lot of cool places. He’s been to California where I got to see Ryan Reynolds’ star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. He’s been to multiple comic book and horror film conventions, normally on my Wonder Woman backpack — which, I know, is a DC/Marvel Universe crossover, but I think Wade Wilson would be fine with it. He recently went to New York City with me, and you can tell by the chipped paint on his eyeballs he’s been through some anxiety-riddled times. But mini-Deadpool doesn’t only go fun places, like NASCAR, Hollywood and New York City. He goes normal places too, like the grocery store. And I know, I’m an adult woman, but I carry him around because he reminds me it’s OK to be flawed. He reminds me even super awesome people like Ryan Reynolds are flawed and messed up at times, and that’s OK. So, like Wade Wilson, I will approach life with Maximum Effort… and take my mental health one day at a time. Follow this journey on Uncustomary Housewife. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here .