Mental health can be an ugly and every day I see remnants of the effects that it has had on my life. Depression and anxiety have plagued my entire life and while I grown accustomed to these feelings and I have learned to better accommodate them in my life, finding peace from the racing thoughts can hard somedays. When the inner voices keep you up at night with constant worry and the sadness follows you, it is hard to keep it together.
I try. I look at my children who have struggled similarly. And I try to be hopeful and happy for them. But it has never been easy for me. I don’t every really recall a time that depression and anxiety weren’t part of life. They have been here for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until I was an adult in my 30s that I learned how to fully make sense of what I was feeling.
Mental health is such as taboo topic even in the year 2021. While people are getting better about talking about it, I don’t always think the right conversations are happening. The idea of trying of trying to normalize something that isn’t considered normal is difficult.
Diseases like anxiety and depression force people to suffer on a sometimes nearly basis and fighting everyday for your health, happiness, and sanity is a constant battle. And people don’t always get that. There isn’t a straight line here. All of our experiences are different. Getting well, at least in my case, takes a very long time.
I have been lucky. I have been high functioning despite having lived with anxiety and depression for most of my life. I work fulltime and I am very good at both my law office and writing jobs. I can take care of family and I have done so as a single parent for many years. So, I am fully functional but there isn’t always a healthy balance there. I struggle more than most people can see or ever know. Sometimes, even those closest to me don’t see my battle.
It is a lot of work to be happy and to not be anxious. I am here, and I am doing things I want to do, but it takes a lot out of me. Somedays are more exhausting them others. I tell people that depression and anxiety are chronic conditions. Before once you are living with these diseases, there is no going back. Yes, you will have periods in your life where it gets better, but there will always be times where it comes back.
I have a good life, and I say this because I wonder if people think I am depressed and anxious because my life is difficult. But aside from working hard and being a single parent, I don’t have a hard life. My hard days are long behind me. But it was those past experiences that shaped me—not being able to raise my girls, being in more than one abusive marriage, and struggling to grow up in world where I didn’t always fit in.
A lot of those experiences made it hard to love myself, accept myself, or feel good enough—for myself, for others, for the Almighty. But these are things I have worked on. I am happy being single. I have a good relationship with my daughters, and they recently visited me. And it took many years of therapy to finally feel good enough.
But there are all those internal thoughts and feelings that I felt for so long that creep up and destroy my self-esteem and confidence. And those old demons creep up on you pretty quickly. I have gotten to the point where I must remind myself that it is the depression, the anxiety, or both doing the talking, and I tell myself to move forward from those feelings. And there are days where that works and there are days where I just want to shut the world out and wallow in my anxiety and sadness.
I could go back to therapy or get medication again, but I have lived with these conditions so long that I know the answers are not easy and they are never going to be. I have gone through therapy more than once and have taken medication, and I know it helps. But I find it is easier to just keep going and working through those feelings as they come.
Of course, I will know when it has gotten too hard and I will reach out to my therapist, but today, it is about getting through, trying to find to find peace and happiness in the little moments. They are there. I just need to pay attention.
I also seek solace I prayer. The Almighty has not left my side all these years, and He is the one constant in my life that has not given up on me—a simple reminder that I cannot give up on myself. I am still here despite everything, which is evidence God is here, and so am I.
I encourage you to seek help for anxiety and/or depression. I know sometimes it feels like there is nothing that can be done. I know this because I have felt that, too. You are a human being and you deserve to feel happy. I promise you can heal and keep healing. You just need to be willing to try. You are so many people rooting for you, including me.