You know, when I write about my personal struggle with mental health, with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and the experiential depression that I deal with, I really am able to somehow shift some of that weight off of my own chest.
I feel like I’m able to get in touch with myself in ways that I am unable to when I just talk about it. When I write about it, somehow it becomes more real. It becomes tangible. Maybe it’s because the words, when they find themselves on paper, suddenly come into an existence that they’ve never had. From invisible to existent. From inexistent to existent. Anxiety and depression are just so, well, just so invisible.
And perhaps, when I see these ideas in print I give them a place to become real to those who still continuously question their very existence in the first place. I’m able to say, look, this is what’s happening to me. It’s real. Maybe you think it’s in my head, but really, it isn’t.
Just look at these words. Just read what I’m saying. There’s proof in this writing. I’m not making this stuff up. My imagination is not that good. And then, that leads me to marvel at all the times people have told me, that what I’m experiencing isn’t real. Like the heck it’s not real. It’s real. I’m telling you it is real. I’m telling you that I’m experiencing it. I’m sorry it’s not as present to you as it would be if I tore my arm off, if I was bleeding from my eyes. But it isn’t any less real. And it hurts. It’s painful. Heart wrenching, gut wrenching, mind numbing pain.
It’s my mom and dad lying on either side of my bed, and I’m an adult, and I’m crying. It’s trying to cook supper, and tears streaming down my face. It’s my sister calling the clinic and making me an appointment to talk to someone. It’s her whispering, “my sister is depressed.” It’s more tears. It’s more pain. It’s worrying even more because I don’t want to be a burden. And now, its me worrying that I am worrying that you’re worrying.
Is none of that real? Let’s look at it from this perspective. Can you see love? Have you ever seen love? That ooey-gooey feeling that makes you feel wonderful inside. Is love, perhaps then, also just in your head? Is love not real.
Let’s try this again! Have you ever seen the wind? Is the wind real? Or is the feeling of the wind also just all in your head? You tell me. You see, mental illness is invisible. Like love. Like wind. Like air. You can’t see it, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t there. It is. It’s there and it’s real. So, stop telling people, if you’re telling them, that this is in their head. Because when you do that, you make those who love you, begin to question whether they actually are, in fact, insane.
For years, I have thought, I have questioned, you know, if this isn’t real, but I think it is, and I’m feeling this way, then by that very virtue I must be insane. And, well, thinking you’re crazy or insane or going crazy or insane, does absolutely nothing to alleviate anxiety. In fact, it makes it worse. Go figure.
So, today, I’m here to tell you that, no. No. You’re not insane. You’re perfectly sane. You’re experiencing something that not everyone has the misfortune and, even the fortune, to experience.
So, welcome to the club.
Another something-something that I want to point out is this. Some people may look at you, like, “why does he/she act like their life’s so tough?” Or, “anxiety, bout what?” Well, I am here to tell you the obvious. I know you know this. And that’s this, you don’t get cancer because your life is hard. You don’t develop asthma because you have a less than ideal job, or a roof over your head. So, don’t look at me and ask me, “what do you have to be depressed or anxious about?” Because, truthfully, if you really must know, I have nothing to be depressed or anxious about. I don’t know why I feel this way at times. I wish I knew.
For me, my experience is what is referred to as free floating. Kinda like a cloud. But not at all. It’s not white and fluffy. Maybe a rain cloud. Dark and glum and about to downpour.
My experience with mental illness, is often based on nothing. Nothing awful has happened to me. I have a great family, a great fiancée, wonderful friends, a great job, a roof over my head.
I am a case of the high-functioning person with a case of the mental flu… on occasion. And it doesn’t make sense to me either. Trust me. But this is my life. And I’m coping well. I’m coping well right now. And I’m feeling better because I’ve begun to open up the most vulnerable part of my soul to you fine folks.
So, please know, when you write me and say thanks. Or see me at a party and say thanks. Or text me and say thanks. You know what? Thank you. Thank you more. Thank you so much. Thank you so, so, so much more.