This isn’t only a space for me to share my creative writing. It’s also a space to just dump my innermost thoughts and feelings, for better or worse, and perhaps make you feel less alone in yours.
Sometimes I miss the days of LiveJournal when we all overshared everything in our lives without judgement or fear. Just a bunch of sad kids needing a digital sanctuary filled with strangers who support one another (lol). Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought I’d ramble on about my own anxiety and depression (specifically from the past year, taken to extreme heights from a certain event), something I could easily generate into like, 500 posts, but I’ll start with this.
I don’t think you remember when you first get hit with anxiety or fall into a depressed state. While it’s not something to be identified by, it’s been embedded into my life for as long as I’ve known how to feel and in turn not known how to control my feelings, which is basically forever. It’s typically not taught when you’re young, and in some cultures like mine, it’s quite taboo and uncommon to talk about. So you age into adulthood thinking your immense fear of speaking up in public, tendency to feel like a burden, overthinking and worrying about everything, canceling plans at the last minute, making up excuses as to why you can’t attend something, lying to fit in or to avoid embarrassment, like the pit in your gut is going to self combust at any second, your heart can’t stop racing a million miles an hour just upon waking up… is all just what makes you, well, you. You continue to hide behind smiles because you don’t know any other way to put on a face. You don’t think anything of it when you’ve always been in the same bubble.
Even alongside my usual outgoing and optimistic nature, I know I’ve been some sort of an anxious bug with a side of depression since I was young. I just never realized how badly the two have impacted me and my life until a year ago today when a severe bout of darkness entered my life that I never thought I’d get out of. I can’t even believe it’s been a year — it feels both like yesterday and a decade ago, and that terrifies me. I’ve faced more situations that should have turned my life upside down more than anything else (hello, raising yourself since you were 11), but this was the most unexpected one that I felt I had 0 control over. It gutted every part of me so deep to the point where every negative thought and feeling I’ve ever experienced unfolded and morphed itself into a creature I know I couldn’t outfight. Just as the darkness began to consume me, it manifested itself into the way I spoke, the way I looked, the way I talked. Sunken eyes and sunken hearts fall the same. My presence turned grim and forced smiles made it harder to know what’s real. I began to think of each passing second and how it’s ripping away precious particles of sand through the hourglass of my life, shattered and scattered into nothingness. It completely spiraled my life out of control. It got to the point of me disassociating myself regularly, having panic attacks and a constantly racing heart and mind, not knowing how to control my feelings, waking up feeling nauseous, losing my appetite or eating too much, getting little-to-no sleep or too much of it, not being able to get off my couch or leave my house, losing interest in my hobbies or feeling incapable of partaking in them, and feeling like I’m wasting life away.
The combination of countless hours crying and far too fewer sleeping was exhausting; I was sick to my stomach every day, lost weight, felt like a failure and was incapable of doing everyday tasks. I remember one Sunday where I spent 8 hours on my couch doing absolutely nothing but watch TV, and I couldn’t even get myself to concentrate. My mind was drifting and my emotions continue to go for a ride with broken brakes. And I’ve always hated not being in control of my emotions. As much as I wanted to get up, I I felt stuck. As much as I wanted to power through, I felt held back. As much as I wanted to relax, I felt shaken. I spent days sobbing on my floor surrounded by empty walls and an empty heart, questioning everything and trying to piece back together all that’s unraveled.
I began to question every part of my existence and self — what have I been doing the past two years? Have I been living a lie? Was this all part of a fantasy? Am I impossible to love? What did I do wrong? What do I do now? Where do I go? Why am I being abandoned again? Looking for answers in a sea of dark water knowing I can’t swim was never a good idea, but I never gave up even though I felt weaker at every waking hour — so you can imagine my frustration when I couldn’t sleep, which was often. I kept trying to float back up to only sink back down into the deep end. I’ve already drowned once, I thought, how can this be worse? It was worse. What were suppose to be warm and pleasant summer days quickly turned cold and dark. My rapid feelings and racing thoughts took over. Not a day went by where I didn’t word vomit (sometimes actually vomit) how I felt and what I was thinking. I’ve always been comfortable with vulnerability and letting myself fully feel, but this put me in a fearful state of life and my own self. Being robbed of answers and a path you finally felt comfortable and genuinely happy riding on, and suddenly feeling worthless overnight, is inexplainable. It took just this single event to have my anxiety and depression leap to new heights I never wanted them to reach. It was as if this event made every other one before it that I never knew how to cope with or had a chance to just explode onto the surface. It was all too much.
I started therapy because I needed an unbiased, non-personal outlet to vent to. Someone I could cry to for an hour without judgement, while helping to rebuild my confidence, stability and sense of self that I’ve lost. I also had incredible support from my closest friends, and I’m very lucky and thankful they stuck by my side through endless episodes of crying, venting, worrying and fearing for my life. Over time, I began to spend less of my days crying, gradually rebuilt my self esteem and ability to do things, regained interest in my hobbies, genuinely smiled and felt more like myself — and overall felt more of a need to focus 100% on myself instead of being so consumed in the situation that was tremendously setting me back.
I still get in negative head spaces often, I overthink a lot, I don’t always have my shit together and I find myself sitting around and do nothing while getting antsy because I need to do something. It’s difficult having a combination of both anxiety and depression; your anxiety is telling you to get the hell off your couch and be productive but at the same time it’s not worth it because you’ll fail; and your depression is weighing you down physically, mentally and emotionally, making it impossible to do anything. I know there will be several events that will cause my the two to spark up, but I know that I’m not crazy or wrong for feeling — just feeling in general — and everything I feel is valid. It’s the negative thoughts that can be my own worst enemy, but I’m learning how to quiet them. As scary as it is sometimes, it’s rewarding in a way to be comfortable with your vulnerability, and even more so with your sense of self. When I listen to my body and mind and what they need, I’m able to place myself into a more grounded and calm state. I try to remind myself every day, but especially in trying times, that I’m alive, I’m healthy and I’m able to feel a lot of regular human feelings. And how amazing is it to be able to do that, even if it tears you apart in different directions sometimes? This too shall pass isn’t just a saying, and I believe that now. We may not be able to control life’s events, but we have this remarkable ability to control how we react to every single one. Every milestone is one to be proud of, no matter how small or big. I feel good knowing I was able to get out of bed today after I woke up feeling scared and anxious, because I took control, because I deserve it. I’d much rather be a thinking, feeling human than live in silence while being deafened by my own thoughts and strangled by my own feelings.