“You got your peanut butter on my chocolate!”
“You got your chocolate in my peanut butter!”
Two great tastes that taste great together.
That’s what comes to mind when I think about my mental health.
“You got your soul-sucking depression on my heart-pounding anxiety!”
“You got your exhausting anxiety in my endless depression!
Except they aren’t great and even worse together. I care about nothing and everything. My mind is either stuck in the past or a hundred years in the future. My mind races and my body slugs behind. I’m numb and hyper-sensitive. I’m unmotivated and over-achieve. My sassiness borders on cruelty, but maybe that’s all in my head. I’m steady on the inside while a tornado rips me apart from the inside. I’m better than I used to be.
I’ve lived with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember, even before I knew their names. Twenty-six years ago, I made the decision to get help. It’s been years of different medications—trial and error, combinations of this and that, periods of success, and times my mood bottoms out and I feel like I’m free-falling. There are times I’m afraid to let people know I’m broken, but I’ve come to realize we are all broken. Hiding it, denying it, or running from it robs us of the chance to heal, connect with others, and celebrate joyful moments.
I wish I could say I meditate, do yoga, chant affirmations, and exercise but I don’t. I would like to say my body is a temple and I only fill it with things that are good for me, but it isn’t. I would like to say I pray every day, but my faith waxes and wanes, or disappears altogether. I really want to say I’ve forgiven all those who have hurt me, but that’s a work in progress. The hardest person to forgive is myself. There are a lot of things I could do to manage my mental health, but I do what works the best for me. My hope is that something I do may work for you, too.
- I try. Every. Single. Day. When things don’t go my way, I remind myself I can try again tomorrow.
- I accept that depression and anxiety are my life-long roommates. They make a mess of the house but they also help me appreciate every day my house is in order.
- I accept that pain and joy are temporary. I know this too shall pass when things are painful and I appreciate the joyful moments when they come around.
- I get out of bed every day even when I don’t want to.
- I take my medication like a good girl.
- I confide in my therapist and take her suggestions to heart.
- I write to purge hurtful words from dark places.
- I write to remind myself it’s ok to laugh and make others laugh.
- I write to make sense of my past so it can’t hurt me anymore.
- I write for my future.
- No matter how I feel, I care about others and am there to offer supportive words and a hug, even when I need them, too.
- I pour my heart and soul into my family and know when I take care of myself, I take better care of my family.
- I’m strong when I need to be.
- I fall apart when I need to, throw a pity party for one, and then pull it together because I have shit to do.
- I believe in love and romance and celebrate my thirty-year love affair with my best friend.
- I ask for and accept help, and I help others.
- I have hope during hopeless times. It’s helped me get through the most painful times of my life and it makes me excited for the future.
- I’m sassy and stubborn and know that I am bigger than depression and anxiety. They can kiss my ass, not kick it.
- I read and re-read self-help books.
- I do the best I can and accept that my best isn’t always great, but it’s good enough.
- I nap when I’m tired, cry when I’m sad, and laugh when I’m so moved.
- When my mind spins out of control, I find something to focus on in the moment.
- I say “Stop!” when my negative self-talk and demons tell me lies.
- I say no to things I don’t want and speak up for things I do want. It took me a long time to give myself permission to do so.
- I remind myself I’m a human being, that being perfect is overrated, and being flawed makes me more interesting.
- I remind myself it’s not all about me.
- I know I’m not alone, ever. All I have to do is reach out.
- I appreciate the little things—the first sip of coffee in the morning, a full moon, a setting sun, snugs with my cat, holding my husband’s hand while we watch TV in bed, running errands with my girls, finding the perfect gift for someone I love, texting with my sister.
- I remind myself I’m safe when anxiety tells me I’m not.
- When anxiety makes up fiction, I ask it for the facts.
- I appreciate I’m in good company—16 million people live with depression every day and another 60 million live with anxiety.
- I choose life.
If you are struggling, please reach out for help. You’re worth it, and I would never lie to you. When things are really dark and you feel you can’t take it another minute, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.