So, I called my mom yesterday afternoon to, you know, check in and I hear myself say to her, “Mom, I’ve been feeling so unbelievably happy lately,” and my mom, being the mom she is, says to me,”Well, Mandy, I hope it’s like that forever and ever and always.”

Me too, Mom. Meeeeee too.

I remember at the heights of my battle with anxiety I feared I’d never get through it. That I’d never be truly happy again… to be honest, just feeling normal or even just okay would have sufficed.

But after I moved myself through all of that, in retrospect, I realize now that everything runs its course. Nothing lasts forever. This too shall pass. You’ll be okay. Everything runs in cycles.

If I could go and sit with the 18 year old me who experienced her first panic attack and who tried to fight that battle alone, for months, I’d sit with her, and hold her, and promise her that everything would be okay. Sure, there’d be ups and downs. And that’ll continue. But by and large, one day I’d accept and be grateful for the challenges that I, at that time and even moving forward faced.

It’s made me a stronger, kinder and, perhaps even more importantly, a more empathetic person. I feel almost blessed, as though these challenges have somehow connected me to a deeper level of just being. Of living and learning to accept whatever emotion it is that turns up on my doorstep. Of appreciating the insignificance of worrying over trite and trivial details.

When my mother wished me all the happiness forever and ever amen today, I responded with, “Well, I wish. But that’s not how it works.” I mean, shit happens. Good things happen, bad things happen. Worse things happen. Life is a crazy, wild, beautiful, messy ride.

We are bound to get hurt. Bound to fall down. Bound to deal with tough crap that we’d wish we could skip right past, but that’s just how it is. Here it comes, guys. Cliche of the day, “You can’t appreciate the sunshine, if you’ve never stood in the rain.”

Everything runs in cycles. But while the going’s good, lean into it. Don’t fight it. Enjoy it. And when the goings rough, lean into it. Don’t fight it. It’ll pass.

If you’re in a place in your life right now and you’re struggling, I promise you good days are just right around the corner. Spring comes, morning comes, the wheel is always turning. Despair today, joy tomorrow. Just keep pressing forward, keep putting one foot in front of the other.

I’ve received hundreds of messages and emails from people that I honestly have never met, have met briefly or who I have known my entire life thanking me for having the courage or bravery or what have you to speak about mental illness. Messages from people who still suffer in silence, from parents who are concerned about their children, from friends and family friends who I’d never expected dealt with the highs and lows of the beast that is this disease.

I talk about these things because I feel like I somehow am able to represent the reality that you can live with anxiety or depression and an array of other illnesses, both physical and mental, and still be a wonderful, successful, energetic, fun, wildly funny, or quirky or completely awesome and functional member of society.

Several months ago someone made a comment on something I’d posted, they’d said, “Mandy, when I think about good people, I think about you.”

My heart could have burst, honestly. Because for so long I worried that I would somehow or I was somehow a young adult with emotional baggage. That I was somehow damaged. The truth is, however, I am just me. Just me Mandy. And I feel like I am empowering other people, that I’ve been using the disorders that have been laid in my lap and turning it into, as much as possible, a good thing.

We need to eradicate the stigma. You are not your illness. You are not your condition. You are perfect and beautiful and wonderful as you are. And baby, accept what you cannot change. And work with it instead of against it. Things are much easier when you ride the wave, rather than try to swim against it.

So, I’m leaning into this happiness right now. I’m going to enjoy it. I’m going to ride this wave with the sun on my sweet skin, and I’m going to toss my head back and laugh as I look to the sky.

There is nothing, my friends, that you can’t handle.

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