another awareness month that i love. may is national mental health/anxiety/depression month. sometimes i joke and say things like "hi I'm emily and i have anxiety" like i'm at a recovery meeting. but jokes aside, it's not a laughing matter at all. anxiety is crippling. i don't do so many things because i'm too worried about the traffic i'm going to have to fight to get there, the amount of people in the crowd i don't know and will have to touch to get by, the small talk i will have to have with people that i don't even know. i worry about every little detail from the beginning to the end, which makes the whole experience just suck. so instead, i just don't go at all. i stay safe in my little apartment haven. i hide from the world. i hide from strangers and unknowns and new situations. i make excuses and then cry because i missed out again. i get my feelings hurt when i stop getting invited, even though i probably only made one of the last 10 invitations i was given. can i really blame them for not trying when i always have an excuse?
anxiety is tough. it strikes at any moment. it hits me out of nowhere. it's unexplainable. i have learned how to manage and am getting better at recognizing the symptoms before they hit me full force. but most of the time i can't control it even when i see it coming. i still panic. my heart beats so fast i feel like i can't breathe. i cry so much, or am always on the verge of tears. i close my eyes and try to breathe deep. i pray, ask god to calm my anxious heart. and i breathe deep again, waiting for the storm to pass. if you don't suffer from anxiety or depression or mental health issues, it can seem like people who are suffering are just exaggerating, trying to get attention, overreacting.. but i promise you, we can't help it. if i could take a deep breathe and have it all go away in an instant, it would be a dream. sometimes, most of the time, its not that easy. a lot of times the fear wins and i am stuck in my brain without a way to calm myself. but sometimes, i close my eyes and take a breathe and i can move on. i can't control it. anxiety and depression are true disorders. there are a lot of days when i can't get out of bed. i wake up crying with a heaviness on my chest that is unexplainable, and i can't move. the overwhelming sadness, the heaviness, it doesn't make any sense when it happens. how can i just wake up so sad? sometimes it hits me if the middle of a perfectly normal day. how can i be functioning, having a great day, and then as fast as i blink it all changes and i can't shake it. it affects every aspect of my life. it tells me i'm not good enough, i'm not worth it, i don't deserve anything good, that i'm not beautiful, that i'm not loved or treasured or cared for. it ruins relationships, it hinders growth, it breaks me. it jumps into my heart and mind and turns everything black and cold. and it is as real as the sky is blue. it is thick and fierce and unmanageable. i have to fight it every day. i have learned that it's okay to admit when i'm having an off day. most of the people who have stuck by me are happier to hear that i'm struggling than to have an excuse. they remind me to breathe, that it's going to be okay, that i am loved and valued and worth it. they send me scripture, preach truth to my heart, and help me fight the darkness. and i will be forever grateful for those people who haven't walked away, but instead pulled me in closer. i know it's hard to love someone who struggles with anxiety and depression, so thank you for believing in me and helping me. god is showing me that i am worth it, i am loved and treasured and adored and beautiful and valued. he drops truth bombs on my heart right when i need them. he gives me the courage to get up and keep going, to open my eyes and fight through the darkness, and trust that he is there and he is good. and i couldn't be more thankful for that truth.
if you know someone that struggles with a mental health disorder, love them anyway. love them through it. support them and encourage them. they are worth it.