Tuesday, August 5, 2014

On the Beast Inside.

*******This is a post about anxiety/depression.   It's very personal and not typically something I would post on such a public forum.  But I feel the need to share.  To be honest.  And I am going to do so now.  Fair warning*******

It's been nearly a year, folks.

About 11 months since I posted anything.  

I don't really feel an obligation to this blog anymore, to be honest (that being said I intend to visit here more frequently again).  When I created it years and years ago in college it was a place to just put things.  Thoughts, emotions, tidbits about my life.  As time went on it was a place to update my family on my life (when I was in Rhode Island, New Hampshire, and Maine).  

Now?  Well, the updates are mostly unnecessary. Nothing exciting has really happened.  As for thoughts and emotions?

I've had a bombardment of those in the past 11 months.  More than I think I've ever thought or felt.  Nearly none of them thoughts or emotions I felt inclined to share.  

And right around August/September of last year is when it all got really hard.  

My way was suddenly barred by a beast I never thought I would have to battle.

The double headed monster that is depression/anxiety.  

It took a really long time to admit to the anxiety.  Even longer to admit to the depression.  And it took until a week or two ago for me to admit that I'm not fully recovered.  That while in general I can see the world in a positive light, I still battle that beast, even if he's in a smaller form.

I don't speak honestly to create discomfort.  I speak as one who understands that sometimes we don't speak of these things enough.  Because we are ashamed or in denial.  We insist that we need to be stronger.  Hide it.  Keep it all inside.  Admitting it means admitting to weakness, right?  And we can't have that.  Telling others and asking for help is putting too much on someone else when we should be able to handle it ourselves.



I post now about these things not just because I feel the need to come out of blog estrangement, but because I've seen too many people that I love live in denial, or hide away the things they struggle with.  That beast? He works within.  He eats away at the core of you, creating imbalance and pain.  

You can have a dozen good days and then suddenly he's there again.  You can't get out of bed and force yourself to be productive.  You can't smile genuinely because in your head there is nothing really to smile about.  You look inwardly and instead of the beauty you see the beast.  And to your eyes, the beast is yourself.  YOU are the horrible creature that is destroying everything good.  There is self-loathing, there is despair, there is fear, and there is physical pain.  

A friend of mine recently shared a buzzfeed post which I really appreciate.

You too can read it by clicking here.  

I want to specifically mention some of these.  

Number 9:  It's frustrating to be that person.  The person who doesn't want to burden anyone else with my problems.  For me it's not an inability to express what's wrong.  It's not wanting to assume that other people are willing/able to just listen.  To just be there.  To take a tiny speck of my burden on themselves.  Because sometimes you DO just hurt and want someone to hold you and say it's going to be ok and expect nothing from you.  It seems silly to want to be alone but feel terrified of being alone at the same time.  I was lucky enough to have a very close friend who never judged, who loved me enough to just be there so I wasn't alone, but not expect anything from me so that I didn't have to deal with the world.  A friend who made the world melt away.  I hope everyone can have a friend like that.  And trust in them.

Number 10:  A million times over (both in my head and out loud to my friends) I have said "I'm not the person I used to be.  I miss that person".  I miss the carefree, stress free person who loves hiking, biking, cooking, reading, learning the guitar.  Who isn't a control freak and doesn't get anxious or sad about the silliest little things.  I miss the ambitious girl who had a goal in life.  I miss the girl who was strong enough to look her temptations in the face and say "screw you, I'm better than that".  The girl who was strong enough to bare OTHER people's burdens.  I hardly recognize me anymore.  Sometimes I see the old me and I feel joy.  Like greeting an old best friend.  I'm still trying to morph into the new beautiful butterfly that is a combination of who I was and who I am now with what I've experienced.  But that metamorphosis takes time and means letting go.  

Number 13:  I hope that not every person who goes through anxiety or depression (or both) has to have a friend say the following to them: "There are people out there who have it so much worse than you."  Because those words hurt more than almost anything else.  Why?  Because YOU have been saying them to yourself all along.  You know they are true.  You have been beating yourself into a corner with all those words of "suck it up.  You're better than this.  You have nothing to be sad about.  Get over it".  And then here comes a friend who you hope to lean on and it feels like they are joining in the beating.  Kicking you while you are down.  They don't MEAN to.  They are trying to help you have perspective.  

Let me promise you, friends of anyone who is or has gone through anxiety/depression: these words NEVER help.  They only hurt.  More than that person may admit.  Please...never use them.  

Number 14: Very close to my heart is this one.  The friend I had who was closest to me through all this was wonderful.  Tried to help me gain a new perspective on life so I could pick myself up.  But this friend used this one so much...and I couldn't make them understand.  That it didn't matter. "You have so much going for you...you have less reason to be insecure or down about life than anyone I know...".  These words hurt almost as much as telling me there are people who have it worse than me.  So what if I have a lot going for me...if feels like your saying I have no reason to be anxious or depressed.  You think I don't know that???  But that doesn't matter.  Knowing that I have so many good things in life is not the sword that defeats the beast.  In fact it only feeds him and makes you feel worse because you hate that even though you know what's good about your life that you still feel awful.

Number 16: Never tell a friend who is going through this that they are being silly.  Or ridiculous.  They know.  And it hurts.  They are trying.  What they need is encouragement. 

I feel like a lot of the ones that touched me had a theme.  

And so I again want to reach out to those of you who know someone who is going through these things.  Maybe you understand what they are going through are just want them to snap out of it because it hurts you to see them feel pain like you did.  Maybe you don't understand and have no idea how to handle it.

In either case I promise you-don't try to help them rationalize through it.  Because the nature of the beast is to generally be irrational.  There are things that your friends will go through where they need that slap in the face.  A big "HELLO!  You are being silly or dumb.  Stop it.".  When it comes to this, the majority of the time all that friend needs is an "I understand.  I'm here for you for whatever you need" or an "I may not understand, but I love you anyway."

Give them a hug.  Tell them that it will pass and you will be there for them until it does.  Don't leave them behind to deal with it alone.  We are not solitary people.  We were never meant to be alone.  Don't beat them up for it.  Don't be angry or upset with them.  Be patient and considerate.  Encouraging.  It's ok to offer them incentive to get out of the house or to have fun.  But if they can't do it, don't guilt them for it.  Offer to be there but don't feel slighted if they just need some times alone.  

I could never have written this in the midst of it all. In the darkest parts of my experience.  Because I saw no light in those times.  And so I never came here because I felt I had nothing good or rational to say.  I've gone through so much more than just the anxiety/depression this past year.  But I'm starting to come out of the woods.

Now, I am more light than darkness for the most part.  But it's still there from time to time.  And I have to remind myself to be kind to myself.  For this too shall pass.  

I want to thank you, readers, for being patient with me and this entry.  I know that for some of you it will touch a part of you that knows exactly where I am coming from.  I hope for some of you it will be a lesson.  And for others I hope if will be a reminder that you are never alone.  

I want to personally thank those of you who have been there for me through any step of the journey.  You were essential.  

I want to leave you all with one more link to a comic.  I think the end of this one touched me more than anything.  To those friends out there who are helping someone through this, my prayers are for you as well.  To have the strength and presence of mind to simply say "hard day again, huh? I'm sorry."  And then give that friend a hug until their pieces start to glue together again. 

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