Dear Other Me,
There is no good way to start this letter. I don’t like having you around. Both of you show up when I don’t expect it, and hang around much longer than I would like you to. I understand that life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows but…jeez. You get out of hand. I know that everyone has moments of really bad anxiety and days of sadness, but again, you go a bit far.
I don’t remember when I started feeling depressed and anxious. It’s been off and on since I was a teen. It’s gotten worse as I’ve gotten older. I was a bit anxious when Cameron and Lily were born, but Post-Partum Depression is no joke. I didn’t do much but cry. I couldn’t bond with my adorable baby. I didn’t sleep well. (Julian was so damn cute.) It’s a horrible place to be, and I wouldn’t wish it on someone I didn’t like. Eventually, meds helped and the boys got their mommy back.
Both of you went away but came back in full color and ten times worse when Lily had her delays and Julian’s diagnoses showed up. I had to show Matthew and everyone else that I was supermom. I just wanted to be the perfect mom, and I never got there. I felt so defeated. I couldn’t do anything right. I couldn’t handle the kids or make Matthew happy. In fact, it got so bad, I began getting anxious everyday when he came home from work.
How did I handle it?
Not well. I stopped eating. Or I ate too much. I started working out 3-4 days a week. Then I started going out and drinking with my co-workers. That got way out of control.
Oh, and did I mention Jake? I’ll say this- cheating on your husband is about the worst coping skill there is. However, Jake let me be me and that was something I needed desperately. I needed a way out of all the crap being thrown at me and that’s exactly what I got.
I still didn’t eat. I still didn’t sleep. I had a mini stroke. But yet, both of you seemed like you were here for good. I was just unhappy but started planning a way out of my marriage. I figured that it was the best idea for everyone and maybe the two of you would go away.
Jake died and things went straight downhill. Of course depression set in. I quit the job I loved and lost a bunch of “friends”. I rarely left my house. I didn’t want to run into anyone from my old job. I didn’t want to be around anyone period. I just wanted to be alone. Anxiety was in a new form that I wasn’t used to- social anxiety. I kept drinking, and that got super bad, at least for my liver. It helped the pain go away.
Depression? You’re pretty rough. I didn’t shower. I lay in bed all day. I cried for hours. I cried through almost every Taylor Swift song there is. I wrote three books of poems on wattpad within months. My eating still sucked, and I took melatonin to help with my sleep because my migraines came roaring back.
I also became mean. I lashed out at people because I was angry. Thanks, depression. Along with another factor, I lost one of my favorite people. That set off something in my brain and I found Rachel, the rockstar of a therapist that has helped me rebuild my life.
Two years of therapy later, both of you are still freaking here. I wish y’all would go away and never come back. I’ve realized that may or may not happen, but at least now I have much better coping skills. I still have whole days in which I’m not feeling things and so I pull back and take care of myself. If I’m anxious, I’m able to calm myself and figure things out. Usually. It’s a rough path. But it’s not a path I can’t walk. I’m not alone and I have tools.
I wouldn’t wish either anxiety or depression on anyone. They are hard to live with. Some days are better than others. This, in part, explains why I have the phrase “one day at a time” tattooed on my left wrist.
It is possible to live a full life with depression and anxiety. Resources are below.