May 17, 2023
If you didn’t know already, May is Mental Health Awareness Month. As someone who has battled depression and anxiety their whole life, I’m appreciative that discussions surrounding mental health have become more prevalent. However, I still think the topic is a bit taboo (and systemically doesn’t have enough support in place).
Because of this, I thought I’d write a short story about my own struggles with mental health.
I’ve battled depression and anxiety most of my life. Most of the time, it is one or the other. I am lucky to rarely feel the effects of both at the same time. I know exactly when my anxiety (and co-dependency issues, but that is a story for a different time) started. I remember to this day watching my parents arguing and telling my pink bear that I was going to fix everything. When they separated, I felt the effects of anxiety. Constant stomach aches, overeating to the point that I’d throw up, and struggling to sleep.
It wasn’t until high school that I remember feeling the effects of my struggles again. I think a lot of times teenagers’ emotions are chalked up to the normal effects of puberty to no one’s fault except for society’s habit of ignoring the signs. In my own case, it was more than just puberty, I was dealing with an absent father, an abusive relationship, losing a childhood friend to a car accident, and losing my step-brother to what we think was a drug overdose all within three years. I remember being in therapy and taking a written test to determine if I had depression. At the time I didn’t take it too seriously when the test said I had all of the symptoms. Looking back, I think this was my first foray into the depression side of my struggles.
Throughout my adulthood, I have continued to struggle with anxiety and depression. After having my daughter I had severe post-partum anxiety for six months before asking for help. I remember one hot summer day racing outside of my work to check my car to make sure my daughter wasn’t dead in the back seat from forgetting to drop her off at daycare. A few months later is when I decided I truly needed to take action and asked my doctor to put me on Lexapro. It felt like a cloud being lifted. The realization that I wasn’t crazy and instead just had a chemical imbalance in my head.
Whenever I talk to people who don’t struggle with anxiety and depression, I’m amazed. I can’t imagine not dealing with the effects daily. The racing heart, inability to sleep, feeling like my body is vibrating constantly, needed to clench and unclench my hands, or just move my body. Or the wanting to sleep all day, the difficulty in smiling, being on the verge of tears for days, and having zero motivation or desire to do anything that brings me joy.
Regardless if you struggle with anxiety, depression, or none of it at all. Know you are not alone. There is always someone there to walk next to you and support you.