My Story…

 

I was going to do a post about my silly dogs today but, after reading several heart-wrenching stories online yesterday with it being the six-month anniversary of Newtown, I decided to go with a post I’ve been debating about writing for a while. It’s about mental illness. Doesn’t that just sound horrible? It’s hard for a stigma not to surround such a negative term. Perhaps we can come up with a new label for it, like brain funkiness or chemical chaos. Hmmm…must sit with this.

The truth is that I’ve suffered with anxiety for as long as I can remember, and it met up with its tried and true soulmate, depression, some time during college. So many of us suffer in silence, and I decided to share my experience with it. We’ve all seen the cheeseball commercials where a dog lays a ball at a woman’s feet and she just sits there looking at it, leaving the dog looking so defeated. Sure, this might be what depression looks like to that woman but it’s kind of like a snowflake, in that each person has a different experience with it.

I’ve got floating anxiety, so it’s basically a feeling of uneasiness that’s always with me, kind of like Dexter’s dark passenger. And like Dexter, I’ve learned to channel it in different ways so it doesn’t weight me down like a metal jacket most days. For me, anxiety and depression are more like a light shroud that covers me at all times, so that the sun never looks quite as bright as it could and even happiness, which I definitely experience, sometimes stops short of its true potential. Occasionally, I’ll hear a song on the radio or see a look on my kid’s faces that will touch a place in me that’s buried so deep, it’s almost untouchable. In those moments, I feel hope. I even got teary once in Zumba…Zumba, folks! It’s the happiest of happy workouts, and trust me – we are all dancing like no one is watching. I remember catching a glimpse of my full potential, dancing and goofing off and, for a fleeting moment, the shroud was lifted, and I felt a sense of euphoria.

I long for that feeling a dog gets when he hangs his head out the window – pure and unadulterated joy. Oh, to feel the wind on my face like that and not have a care in the world! It must feel fantastic. Sometimes I’ll meet a person who I sense lives his or her life like that, and I want to glom on to them, as if I can suck that life force out of them…that inner peace I’ve never been quite been able to achieve. There’s an aura of contentedness that surrounds some people like a force field, shielding them from the bad and allowing all the good.

I don’t talk to too many people about this, but the few I have done so with always tell me that I don’t seem like the type. Perhaps that’s a good thing. No one wants to hang out with Debbie Downer. But do I present a facade some days? Absolutely. But then again, sometimes you have to fake it until you make it. And I know I’m one of the lucky ones. I’m blessed in so many ways, with a family that loves me and two healthy boys that make me laugh, love, and suck the marrow out of life every day. I’m often aware of those who have it far, far worse than me. And I try to hold on to that, as you don’t want to look the gift-horse that is a good and loving God in the mouth.

I’ve been lucky to have a therapist that has nurtured me and guided me and molded me into a fully functional person over the years. What she has taught me to do is a gift that I’ll never be able to return. She saw my pessimism and defeated attitude and she showed me how to take in the good, one step at a time. Some days, it may only be a few moments. Other days, I see the good in things and in people all day long. I open myself up to it, and take it in with total acceptance. I inhale it. I become it. I let it overwhelm me. And, in the face of school shootings, terrorist threats, and an overwhelming sense that we, as a whole, have lost our moral compass, I know that I have control over one thing. I can take in all that is good.

butterfly on hand

You didn’t know I was a butterfly whisperer, did you?

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