“I’ll be honest and say that at first I was shocked and confused as to how you could post things that are supposedly just for you like things about anxiety and depression.”
That was among the contents of a message I received the day after my last breakdown. It was the first sentence, actually. I dialed in on that sentence for a while. I had to understand it. I had to digest it. Analyze it. The sentence that came after stated that the sender did realize how I could do such a thing, how I can be so open about my anxiety and depression to others.
I read the whole message and went back to that first sentence. I kept rereading it like it was a mathematical equation that I was trying to decipher.
“…supposedly just for you…”
I thought about those four words. Thought long and hard (after the coffee kicked in, anyway,) and reached a solution on why that line made me stop to give several minutes to it.
The conclusion? My anxiety and depression, it’s not just for me. It’s not just for myself because I’m not the only one that’s affected by my own anxiety and depression. Life would be perfect if that’s the case, if the only person affected is myself, if the only one I’m dragging down is myself, but no. Life’s not that easy, nor fair. It affects everyone around me. It affects my family. It affects my friends, whether online of outside of the internet. It affects the barista at my favorite coffee shop. It affects the driver of the car behind me when I’m on the road. It affects everyone I interact with on a daily basis.
I have tons of reasons why I speak openly about my anxiety and depression. One of them is that I am trying inform people that I’m not normal like them and don’t do “normal” things like them. That I don’t think like them, that I don’t handle everyday things as well as they do. I talk about my mental health issues to explain to them that I am broken and that I’m doing my damn best to fix what’s broken inside of me.
Maybe they’d understand me more. Maybe they won’t. Maybe they don’t believe in psychotherapy and think that having a mental illness is a sign of a weak mind. Maybe they think that I’m merely exaggerating my sadness, romanticizing it, and maybe they even think that I like to be this way. Maybe they think that it’s all in the mind, as opposed to it being all in the brain. Maybe they still believe the stigma attached to mental health issues. But I don’t care. I can’t entertain thoughts from others that will only hinder my recovery. I can’t afford to. It’s my life on the line.
I’m not saying that others should follow suit. I’m not asking anyone who suffers from various mental health issues to openly talk about their suffering. What I do is a choice that I made. Others don’t have to make the same choice. Even though we suffer from depression or anxiety disorders or other illnesses, we’re all different. We all live under different situations. What works for me might not work for others.
I’m open because I live in an environment where I can be free to speak about it. I’m lucky enough to have a family who’s now open to mental health. I’m lucky enough to have a set of friends who doesn’t think that I’m a weirdo or a freak because of my depression, and they accept me and support me in spite of it.
I’d understand if others can’t be as open as I am. Age and living with depression for 31 years have granted me a specific kind of observation in life, a certain viewpoint, which allows me to understand people and situations much more than I could had I been normal.
I’ve gotten messages saying that I’m brave for speaking out about my anxiety and depression. They say that I’m brave for saying what others can’t say. That I’ve given a voice to those who can’t speak about it.
I don’t know if that’s bravery, to be honest. I mean, just listen to the radio and hear the words of local independent bands and singer-songwriters and they’ve been saying all the things that I’ve been saying recently. But I digress.
What’s brave, in my book, is admitting to yourself that there’s something’s wrong with you. That you’re not normal. That you’re not okay. That life gets the best of you and you don’t know how to handle it. That you have a hard time getting out of bed even though you want to. That scarring yourself, whether it’s physical or metaphorical, isn’t the answer anymore. That you’re scared of going out of the house. That you can’t explain what you feel or why you feel it. That you keep pushing people away even though you need them. That you don’t want to keep thinking about ending your life anymore.
Admitting all that to yourself is the bravest thing that you can do. I believe that once you admit that you’re flawed, you’ll sort it out. You’ll be on the right track to becoming the best version of you.
We may be flawed. We may be broken. But there’s nothing wrong with that. There’s nothing wrong with you. We’re human. We’re not perfect. We’re not designed to be perfect. Even normal people have their own flaws in life. Our flaws are just more intense. More pronounced. That doesn’t mean we can’t be fixed, doesn’t mean we can’t get better. We can. We just gotta fight extra hard to survive. And surviving it isn’t as hard as it was before. That feeling that you’re alone? That feeling that no one understands you and what you’re going through? That’s not really true. There are a lot of us out there. There are a lot of us who knows what you’re going through. You’re not alone.
Find us. Seek us. We’re here to help.