I honestly had no idea what I was going to write about today, but as I sit here clicking away at the keyboard, my gut tells me it's time to address the big ugly monster in the room. Anxiety. I have clinical anxiety and some days it is debilitating. I also can't take medication because I am very sensitive to drugs with serotonin. The thing is, that in our society, powering through this is like a championship with a badge of honor. Acknowledging your issues or even having issues is considered a sign of weakness, and quite frankly, that's just ridiculous.
People drag themselves out of bed with a cold, or horrible stomach cramps, or debilitating anxiety and just force themselves to function and go to work or take care of their responsibilities because they just have too. There's too much on the line if they don't - jobs, pride, reputation. It's just wrong. It's ok to get stuck. It's human to have days where you just can't. And, on those days, you should rest or talk to a therapist or do whatever it is that you need to get by and not feel guilty about it.
Mental health is so stigmatized. As a culture we sling around the word "crazy", or for flavor add "bat shit", way too liberally. We make assumptions about a person's ability to adult or parent or function based on our limited understanding of what mental health really means. Oh my gosh, you have clinical anxiety? Can you be trusted to do this job or take care of your kids or do life stuff? The truth is everyone handles their mental health differently. Some people do struggle with day to day tasks and others don't. You can't just assume. And some days are way harder than others. But at the heart of it, people with mental health issues are still people and they deserve love and respect and to feel proud of themselves and live their lives just like everyone else.
For me, having anxiety means that I get scared or worried about things that just might not seem that important to someone else. Sometimes, I lay on the floor in the kitchen or under the dining room table curled up in a ball, too terrified to make any decisions. It feels like the entire world is crashing in around me and I absolutely can't rationalize any of it. Sometimes, I'm at the grocery store and there are just too many people and sounds and I all I can hear is my heart pounding in my ears and my head is filled with their imagined thoughts. Is that person staring at me? Have I done something wrong? Do people know what's happening? Am I being judged? And suddenly, I'm standing there in front of the frozen vegetables and all I want to do is run out of the store and get as far away as possible (I don't, but there are people who do and I see you, and acknowledge you, and do not judge your pain).
Talking about my anxiety, naming it and acknowledging it is powerful and cathartic. But I totally understand why so many can't or don't. It's the same reason I don't talk about it at work or bring it up in casual conversations. People judge, and they assess, and they make decisions about you and who you are based on something they don't fully understand. But here's the thing - you are an amazing, valuable, worthy human and your struggles don't diminish that. Don't ever let anyone convince you otherwise.
Surround yourself with people who get it. Build a support network of people who love you exactly as you are. And, if you know someone who is struggling with anxiety or any other mental health issue, be kind. As hard as it may be to understand or accept, know that it has likely been doubly so for the person learning to navigate it. My husband and I have had many, many long nights over the years we have been together and the journey has not always been smooth sailing. But now, he understands that he doesn't have to get it. It doesn't have to be rationalized or "fixed", he just has to love me no matter what. So now, when I'm on the floor or in the grocery store panicking in front of the vegetables, I know that he will be there anyway. I know that when I lose my temper, or break the closet door, or can't drag myself out of bed - I'm still a worthy human being, and I will take a deep breath and do a grounding exercise and try again tomorrow.
I'll say it again, a little louder for those in the back, STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH DOESN'T MAKE YOU ANY LESS OF A PERSON. So love yourself, be patient with yourself, and know that some days will be better than others. And, that's ok.
Creating my own sunshine 🌞