However, it was only recently that I realized that deep down, I never really believed I had depression and anxiety.
I really just thought that I was unhappy and too damned lazy to do anything about it…
…until I had everything I’d ever wanted and yet found myself in the deepest depths of depression and the biggest twists and turns of anxiety I’d experienced since I was first diagnosed.
The reality of this was a true slap in the face, like being diagnosed all over again. It was a realization that, well, fuck…depression and anxiety are both very real, and it sucks.
At first I thought it was the surrealism of finally getting what I wanted. Like, seriously…has my dream actually come true?!
Then it was the stress that came with acquiring a business that I was now 100% responsible for in addition to being the sole provider for my family. Anxiety? Why, yes! Of course!
I was afraid to fail. I was afraid of people figuring out that I was a fraud (see: Imposter Syndrome). If one thing went wrong, I expected the rest of it to fall apart in my anxious little mind, like a game of Jenga.
Things got better, though, and I figured I’d pulled through and found my strength. Everything would be fine.
…and then, for seemingly no reason at all, they weren’t fine. Everything was fine with the business. Everything was going well. Nothing was perfect, but nothing was falling apart either…well, except for me.
I couldn’t think. I couldn’t work. The voice in my head was screaming about how worthless I was. If I didn’t have a perfect day of productive work, the bitch we all call depression made me feel like I was garbage because I wasn’t perfect and constantly kicking ass at what I do.
Thing was that even when I wasn’t on top of my game, I was still kicking ass.
Then the anxiety would kick in. If I feel like this about myself, what will others think? Will my clients and partners begin to realize that I’m not good at what I do? Will they stop coming to me for services? What if all of this was just temporary and I lost all of it tomorrow?
So I found myself lying on the floor, face down, arms outstretched, unable to do anything but wish that I could stretch beyond my own body and touch the four walls surrounding me. I began to wonder why people ever wanted to own their own businesses?! This sucks! It’s too much pressure. I can’t do this! I’m done!
But I wasn’t done, and I’m not done. Because I knew this would pass and I would be stoked about what I do. I just needed to shift my perspective, something I’d gotten really good at, but found increasingly harder to do since the pressures of business ownership came into play.
Between the struggle of dealing with these negative emotions, trying hard to power through them so that I can work and do my job and keep the business running, and coming to the realization that all those years of saying, “I have depression and anxiety and I have temptations to self-mutilate,” weren’t total BS…I had become a ticking time bomb waiting to explode.
My depression is real. She’s a fucking bitch, and I fucking hate her, and she needs to fuck off already, but she’s real.
My anxiety is real, like that annoying crazy person on the side of the road wearing a sign that says, “The end is near!” while screaming about how we’re all going to hell.
My self-mutilation is real. I haven’t cut myself since I was 16 years old, but the temptations are there, and I recently found myself unconsciously hurting myself in uncomfortable situations to keep myself from flying off the handle in a public place.
All of this and the inability to discuss it openly with most people makes for a very, very ashamed, angry, sad, frustrated, stressed out, and very isolated person.
Then came a glorious, very open and out there individual who I will call “S” who just announces to everyone, “Yes. I have an anxiety disorder!” without any shame. She battles the stigma and challenges it on a daily basis, forcing people to face things they are very uncomfortable with…the fact that they see mentally ill people as negative people who don’t know how to just put a positive spin on things. They see us as people who just need another inspirational graphic to perk us up. We just need to walk on the sunny side of life, and if we can’t do that for them, then we are in the way. It’s a stigma. Because mentally ill people aren’t seen as people who are struggling with a chronic illness. We’re seen as Negative Nancys and Neds who need to stop being such a bummer!
While “S” is putting herself out there in a major way, I keep most of what I deal with to myself for fear of the stigma hitting me and affecting my business because of judgement from others. I want to discuss my struggles openly, but…what if my customers find out and fire me? The logical part of my brain tells me it won’t happen, but the anxious part of my brain is terrified. And then there’s another part that just wants to talk about this, air everything out and help fight the stigma head on and make a difference.
Which way do we go, George? Which way do we go?
The answer? I don’t have it. I’m working to employ my coping strategies and testing different productivity models to help me stay focused on my work so that my mind doesn’t tumble down the rabbit hole of depression and anxiety. I know there’s a balance. Positive thinking can help, but it only takes me so far. The medication helps me meet the positive thinking in the middle, when I am able to reach for it. Other times, the positive thinking is a self-help guru I just want to punch in the face for being so damned chipper all the time. Like seriously…who’s THAT happy ALL THE TIME?!
I have no answers. I have no solutions, yet. I’m working on it. I’m a work in progress, and I’m trying to be okay with that. Right now, I’m just trying to come to terms with the fact that I am, for lack of another way to say it, broken. I just need to be okay with that and power through. Right now, that will be the focus on my health journey and this blog…trying, every single day, to overcome the negativity and self-sabotage that comes with having depression and anxiety.