Anxiety is something I grew up with. It was there when I wanted to ask my crush out on a date in elementary school, it was there when I had to speak in front of an entire class about teen pregnancy and it remains with me to this day, every time I have to speak about something personal in therapy (or with any other doctor).
Dissociation (in addition to anxiety) got the best of me today, especially at the doctor’s office. It was one of those moments where everything felt unreal, but wasn’t. You know that state of mind where you’re fully present and distracted at the same time, so you’re sort of in two places at the same time? That was me today — and it wasn’t fun.
A few minutes ago, I was reading a post from one of my favorite writers (Cristian Mihai) who said: “In a social media world such as ours, we can delete and change who we want the world to believe we are. Information is a couple of seconds from our reach, so we can appear to be smarter, but given enough time I believe you can’t appear to be someone you’re not.”
This got me thinking a lot about who I want to be vs. who I really am. On a weekly basis, thoughts regarding what I’m going to talk to my therapist about run through my mind. Yet, I feel like I do this because I’m scared of accepting who I really am; someone struggling with mental illness but someone who wants very much to be the version of himself he once was. Happy.
I’m realizing something as I’m writing this: all of the pain I’ve ever felt has really come from me trying to become someone I’m not. Stereotypically successful. I can’t remember the last time that I verbally admitted or accepted something difficult, even to myself. I often play “build-a-bear” with my own identity. Similarly to what Cristian said, I often avoid the parts of myself that are the most painful but the most true. Maybe that’s why so many of us like social media. Perfect smiles, perfect lives; the illusion of choice. There’s no such thing. At the end of the day, we’re only lying to ourselves. We cannot be someone we’re not even if we pretend to be that person for years. The only thing you’ll end up with is a lost sense of identity and a million “what if?” and “why?” questions.
Elizabeth Lindsey said: “We live in a society bloated with data yet starved for wisdom. We’re connected 24/7, yet anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness is at an all-time high. We must course-correct.”
Vent: This is true. Other than our stupid-as-fuck President Donald Trump who doesn’t want to help those with mental illness, we as a society often fear what we don’t understand. I think it’s funny that Trump says he wans to support the elderly. Guess what, you shit-dongle. If you don’t help the ones struggling before they become elderly, there won’t be any elderlies to take care of. What are you, fucking brain-dead? If we take a close look at what we have going on in the world today, we’ll realize that people live with shame and guilt because it’s truly difficult to get adequate and competent mental health treatment. When you see this, Trump, it means we need even more money put into mental and physical health treatment, not less. Then again, you are the spitting image of stupid, so it’s no surprise you’re doing a shit job. I think we’d be in better hands with Homer Simpson and Peter Griffin as Presidents, honestly — no joke. Outside of their silliness for entertainment purposes, of course.tweet
With all of this running through my mind, it’s sometimes hard not to give into the temptation of giving up. It’s easy, especially when you think about the fact that there’s very little we can do to change the way the world works; it’s corrupt, unfair, wrong, messy, etc. Not everyone gets what they deserve and a lot of us get cheated, in one way or another. Yet, through all of this, there’s one thing that keeps me going.
Hope is knowing that dark days will come but fighting to see the light. Hope is wishing for the best but preparing for the worst. Hope is knowing that the sun will rise even after a really bad storm. Hope is the engine of our hearts; it keeps us alive.
Two years ago, I wanted to quit at life. To give up. I’m glad I didn’t because I learned the most important lesson anyone can learn in life. That lesson was taught to me by an amazing quote: “If I quit now, I will soon be back to where I started. And when I started I was desperately wishing to be where I am now.”
I understand now that even if my life is currently not where I want it to be, I have to move forward with it while in spite of everything that has happened.
There are days when I wake up and tell myself that therapy is the biggest motivator in my life. It really is the primary reason I don’t give up on life. Twice a week, I get to go somewhere where I’m not judged. Somewhere I’m listened to, understood and cared for. I mean, isn’t that what we all want, in a way? It’s why we go to school and work so hard. So we can be successful and one day find that one person we can share our life with. Except in this case, a therapeutic relationship is all about you and where you are and where you’re going in your life.
In the beginning of this post, I wrote about anxiety and how it has impacted my life. I’ll continue in a similar manner. In a lot of ways, I think anxiety is all about the unknown. Our own internal fears, self-judgment and how we perceive the world and the things that surround us.
Truth: The truth can be a scary thing. If I’m being honest, the worst part of today involved me waiting in the waiting area to be seen by my doctor, wondering if history would repeat itself. When it comes to doctors, I rarely trust them. The scarier part arrives when you feel as though you can trust the doctor within the first session; when they give off a very “safe person” and “friendly” vibe. Those who have been abused as a child sometimes develop the ability, similarly to a dog, to be able to tell really quickly whether the person they’re with is trustworthy or not. The judgments may not always be accurate, but they certainly go in the direction of being accurate more often than not. As I entered the room, the sense of safety I felt grew, but so this this overwhelming sense of anxiety. It’s either “Can I trust this person?” or “She’s trustworthy, but at what cost?” Not particularly in this case, just generally speaking.
That’s the thing about Depression, though. It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of being strong and alone for a little too long so much so that our mind is just tired. So tired that it cannot see the light even if it may be there. We don’t want to be seen as weak, but as someone who simply needs to be heard. tweet
If we isolate ourselves, it isn’t because we’re “shy” or “weak.” It is because we may feel as though we’re losing ourselves in a crowd of people. We may feel that if we go into a crowd, we won’t be able to find our way out. In a way, it’s like it’s better to be real and alone than to lose ourselves completely in front of people we don’t even know. Of course the key word here is “may.” Not everyone will feel this way, but I know others who do. I certainly do. tweet
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: life is 90% what and how you think and 10% what you do. If you’re not true to your heart, no matter what you do, you’ll never truly be living life (unless you start doing what truly makes you happy). Even with my current state of Depression which is pretty bad tonight, I have hope. I’m looking forward to my next therapy session, I enjoy writing and I’m alive. Like I said before: my life may not be what I want it to be, but that’s where my part comes in. I often say that life is like an Android device. If something isn’t working right, restore it. If you don’t like the way it currently looks, install customizations to make it work and look even better. You may not be able to make it exactly as you want to, but it can come close as long as you try and as long as you learn to train the way in which you look at things.