I didn't want to write this. In fact, I spent months and months promising myself I would submit a story to When Life, and I put it off using any excuse available. It wasn't because I didn't want to share a story, but all of my stories are boring, except the one I didn't want to share, but knew I should. However, I still didn't want to give it up because my story...just like anyone else's, is just that...my story, and my story is about anxiety.
Anxiety. I know, right? I've seen the Anxiety Cat memes on Pinterest. Yes, they're funny. Yes, they sometimes hit close to home. But they also put a comedic mask on a humorless face that I and many others deal with daily.
First, let me offer a little background information about my life. I have an awesome family. My parents have been married for 30+ years; I have an older sister and a younger brother. From my siblings, I have been awarded the "aunt" title 6 times. Out of my four incredible grandparents, I have one grandmother that I still get to enjoy and visit with anytime I choose. Finally, I have the best husband anyone could ever dream of. Seriously. Be jealous. I have an amazing and rewarding job as a teacher, and the best friends ever. Well I'll just say little has happened in my life that some would consider traumatic enough to warrant a diagnosis of General Anxiety Disorder with a dash of Seasonal Depression Disorder, but here we are.
I don't think people really can pinpoint a moment in their life when they know with 100% certainty that their depression and/or anxiety started right then and there. I can't tell you where I was, what I was wearing, or even what had happened to cause my first panic attack. I only remember not being able to think clearly, nothing making sense, crying, hyperventilating, and being angry and sad at the same time and not being able to tell anyone why.
I thought I was dying.
Over the course of several years these would come and go and eventually become a monthly occurrence. I blamed stress, I blamed having a poor attitude mixed with a very short temper, and I even blamed the people around me because NOTHING was wrong with me. I was definitely wrong! I spent years wondering why and how I could become so irrationally angry over running late, or plans changing last minute, something not going 100% as planned, or even just adding something else to my calendar. I wondered why I always felt so sad, would go days or weeks before contacting any of my family or friends, or why I would come home and sleep every day after work. I couldn't explain to my husband why I was shouting and crying, when he told me dinner plans had changed. Have any of you ever had a true panic attack? You sweat, you can't think clearly, you yell, cry, throw things, can't breath... I'd often put my face in a fan to help me breath. You literally feel as though the world has her arms wrapped around you and is slowly crushing you. Then, in my case, and many others, throw some depression in there and make things a real party now!
Besides the actual panic from every thought you have in your brain and feeling as if the world is against you, the scariest part of it all is admitting that something might be wrong and actually moving forward with help.
My husband is incredible and I truly believe that God placed him in my life for many reasons, but most importantly, because he knew I'd need him. He's never judged me for any way I have reacted or OVERreacted. He's always been right there through every situation and every time I cried with my face in the fan. He was the first to push me to seek help, probably for his own sanity, but hey, it worked! No one likes admitting there is something "wrong" with them. The truth is though, too often we act like there isn't and we live long, miserable lives because we are trapped in our own brains. No one likes to say "oh, I have to take anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medications," and I totally support people who seek other alternative treatments, but I had to ask myself, would I not take a medication for any other illness? Would I not seek help over any other disorder? Why would I not seek help when I know something is not right?
However, despite treatment and an amazing husband, family, and friends, I still struggle. I still have a short temper. I still struggle with "going with the flow." You may not notice it, but sometimes I scream on the inside. I still have the occasional panic attack. Sometimes I want to crawl back into bed after work, and sometimes I do! It isn't always rainbows and unicorns, and I've learned a lot though over the last several years, but one thing will never change - the fact that life is really, really, hard. But, I've also been reminded numerous times that God is still in control, he didn't leave me. My husband and I have had to use that latter part of the "for better or for worse" part of our vows early on in our marriage, but isn't that what helps makes solid marriages? I've learned that not all anti-anxiety medications are made equally, and forgetting to take them will make you sick. I've learned that stress and anxiety can make you itchy sometimes. I also learned that despite me trying my best to put on my "happy face" and approach life as if it's a field full of beautiful butterflies and I'm the net, my closest friends and family know better and support me on those days - sometimes without even realizing how much or at all. But most importantly, I've learned that it's okay to not be okay.. and that's okay.
Submitted by: H.I.G
If this isn't something that so many people can relate to I don't know what is. I have dealt with this personally before. My husband suffers from anxiety and depression, and it is no joke. It can be such a debilitating disease to have your mind control every aspect of your life in such a negative way. It robs you from so many things, from everyday joys to new experiences.
I am so glad you were able to get help and start your journey to a more healthy and happy version of yourself. And yes, it is definitely okay, to not be okay.