As you all know by now, I struggle and have struggled with both Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and bouts of depression for the better part of 10 years. It’s been a tough, ongoing battle, and I will continue to write about and talk through these things on this blog. It’s cathartic for me, and it’s also, I am gathering, helpful for you, if you too, are struggling with the same.
Anxiety nor depressive episodes care what day of the week, month, or year it is to come a knockin’ at your door. But because I love Friday, and Friday is my most favorite day of the week, I am going to use this day as kind of a “feel good blogging day.” I am going to write blogs that are inspiring. I am going to talk about whatever positive and uplifting event comes to mind. Or a tip. Or something funny. Or just a breath of hope.
So, here goes.
In the month of April, I spent some time with my family, and on one particular night, when I wasn’t kicking everyone’s ass at poker, my brother turned to a mutual friend and said one of the sweetest things I ever heard him say. He said, “Mandy is the happiest person ever man, you won’t find anyone as happy go lucky as her.”
I looked at him, like you do when your brother says something so kind about you, which is, well quite unusual until you hit about 25, and was like, “awe, do you really believe that?” and he smiled and looked back at me and said, “well, you had those two bad years there, and you talk about that but other than that…”
This comment genuinely filled my soul with so much happiness. I let myself hear what he had to say, and linger for a couple seconds in what he had said. I knew that he, and those around me, saw the growth and the pain that I had moved myself, with the support of my family, through in both 2008 and 2013. This is why I know that my family has too had to live through the spiritual growth pains that I’ve had to endure. And those years, man, were pretty much hell on earth… and I’ll talk about that later. But not today! And you know why? You guessed it! It’s feel good Friday.
The most important thing that you can do to combat anxiety and depression is ironically to allow it to be. To take its course. To remember that emotions and feelings are fleeting. And whatever you’re feeling right now and in this moment, will not, and moreover, cannot last forever. To just allow yourself to feel it. Which is easier said than done. But, it’s a reality. So, I caution you, don’t fight it. Instead, move with it, flow with it, don’t resist it. And if you have to identify it. Rate it. And watch as the rating changes throughout the day.
Okay, so prepare yourself for how I think about anxiety. It’s kind of an analogy.
So, pretend your walking through a dark house, and you’re hearing footsteps, and you know someone bad is in that house with you. But you’ve turned the lights off, and therefore you are blind to it. You don’t know when anxiety is going to strike. You don’t know when that next attack is coming. This happens to those of us who try to shut out those emotions or feelings. We are one misstep away from coming face to face with the demon who’s rallying a surprise attack.
Now, let’s on the other hand, talk about it. Let’s talk about anxiety and shine a bright light on it. You know it’s there. You can see it. You’re present with it. It can’t take you by surprise. It can’t jump out and say boo. You’re there with it, and you’re acknowledging that. It’s not as scary anymore because you’re essentially saying, I see you and you don’t scare me buddy. Because anxiety is just this little skinny, runt that you can beat up any day of the week.
Does this make sense to you?
Basically, when you start to do that. Your life will change. It’s not easy. Hell no. But it’s like anything in life, everything is easier when you face it head on. This is the skill that I learned in 2013, when I realized that I would always suffer from anxiety. I thought my anxiety was temporarily based, conditioned to me being a student. Nope. I have GAD, which means, I worry excessively over irrational things that are likely never going to happen. Which sounds counterintuitive to someone saying I am the happiest go lucky person, right? That’s anxiety for you, it doesn’t make sense.
Also, here’s another fact for feel good Friday. 99% of the things that you worry about are never going to happen…THEY ALMOST NEVER DO! They don’t. And worrying about anything isn’t going to change the outcome. I literally use to think I could worry things out of existence. If I worried about something enough, it wouldn’t happen. Like, did I worry yet today that there’d be an accident? Nope. fuck. I forgot to worry about that. I’ll do that right now so there won’t be an accident. I mean…seriously? For a pretty smart girl, that’s just cray-cray.
So, why then am I pretty happy go lucky? Why do I continuously come off that way? Well, like I said in an earlier post, I don’t care about trivial details because I have been at the heights of emotional despair. And, because I have been there, being 5 minutes late is not going to stress me out.
But because I haven’t been in such a bad place for such a long time, I am on the whole a much happier person, because the trivial details that seem to dampen the joy out of tonnes of people, have little to no effect on me. Like, you’re worried about a little traffic? You come to me when you’re not sure you’re going to be able to get through the day because your anxiety/depression is so bad.
Now, at the same time, it’s fine if that’s what ails you. Your life is based on your own experiences. Who am I to tell you being a couple minutes late isn’t a big deal? That traffic isn’t a big deal? That’s your lived experience. If that’s what gets you down, I can’t tell you, “try being full on depressed.” Because that’s not fair to you. You can only measure your life based on the experiences that helped to shape and define YOU. I do encourage you though to let the little things be exactly what they are…little.
This is where my personal struggle, on the whole, has allowed me to generally speaking see, at least I think, the overall bigger picture. To not allow what I consider the mundane and monotonous experiences of daily living steal an ounce of my precious joy. Because, God knows how long I am going to be in this wonderful place for.
When will depression hit next? When will I have another panic attack? Well, I don’t know. But the lights are on, and I’ll hopefully be able to see her coming.
But, in the meantime, the little things, or the things that I consider to be small, ani’t stealing one single second of this girl’s sunshine.