I never thought it would end.
The nightmare that replaced my Midas touch.
When everything was perfect – I couldn’t complain.
I still did, though.
Because traffic is annoying. I had nothing to wear. It is challenging deciding when the best time to travel is. Those 5 pounds – pesky, aren’t they?
But I celebrated, too. Everything I touched for years seemed to turn to gold. Want a job? You got it. Want a leadership certificate? It’s yours. Hey we will even throw in some specialty education for you – and pay you to do it. Awesome. Because I deserved it, right? No sleep? You’re young and healthy – who needs it?
Life. It has a funny way of surprising you when you least expect it. When things are going your way and you are finally getting excited. Was I getting too confident? Perhaps. Too comfortable? Not even close.
I remember one morning early December where I had to drag myself out of bed. That morning was particularly rough. I didn’t sleep much – a headache, nightmares, waking up in a panic. When I finally woke, my heart and body was consumed with an overwhelming feeling of sadness. It took some time – and a nudge from yours truly – but I finally got out of the house. In my sweats, which you wouldn’t see me in months prior, I forced myself to walk by the ocean in attempt to take away the pain.
I remember the refreshing feeling of walking into a cozy, family owned coffee shop after. Nobody knew my name – nobody knew my story. For the first time in a long time I wasn’t greeted with a tilted head and a sad look – “how are you doing?” I liked it. I stayed there for hours. Thinking too much, reflecting too much, missing [my previous lifestyle] a little too much. And yes – I was eavesdropping. The brunette who liked to gossip worries about the pettiest things.
Then my own worries started kicking in. How did everything go so sideways? I shouldn’t feel this sad – am I not strong enough? Things could be worse, am I selfish for feeling this way? A few more days, a few more weeks, and I will feel better – right? But, when I looked at my phone and noticed the multitude of unanswered texts and ongoing denial of social gatherings, I knew it was worse than I thought. My self-proclaimed ability to get myself out of this depression was no longer. I needed to tell someone – I can’t do this on my own.
And that’s what I did. I picked up the phone and called a friend to tell them. The funny thing? They already knew. But I covered it up so well? I guess not.
In light of recent vulnerability of individuals suffering from mental illness, I have decided to share my experience in hopes of raising awareness about anxiety and depression. I am not saying that it is the same for everyone, but I hope that my anecdotal experience will help somebody in some way.
I had a hard time being diagnosed with something as significant as a tumor inside my head. What I knew for sure, was that my symptoms would continue to progress until I had surgery. And even after that, I knew that some would worsen. What I didn’t know – was that I was also being sentenced with anxiety and depression that would manifest in weeks that followed. And for me, become the barrier to joy, happiness, hope and motivation. Any twitch, itch and pain suddenly became a warning sign that I may die in my sleep – causing me to wake up gasping for air. Suddenly, the once social butterfly became a hermit to her bedroom in hopes that everyone would just leave her alone.
But, the day that I found the courage to tell someone – it all started to change. We came up with a plan. Each day was filled with small goals – and once they were accomplished, we would add on something else. Today, I am on day 56 and I can honestly say that I am nearly myself again. It has not been easy – these issues can be debilitating. But, with each day that passes, I am blessed with the healing power of time. With each goal I complete, I am blessed with the healing power of self-esteem.
With my new found knowledge, I feel that I am obligated to share. If you are diagnosed with something, expect to experience anxiety and depression to some degree. It is vital that you listen to the parts of yourself that are impacted by such – and know that it is likely situational. It is important to first admit it to yourself, then to tell someone you trust. If what you are doing is not working, try something different. Small things, everyday. Staying in bed won’t do you any good – your mind can play tricks on you when you are alone. You will overcome this hard time and build strength and character for the next time you are faced with a challenge.
So today, when I am stuck in traffic – I see it as an opportunity to slow down and pay attention to my surroundings. What I am going to wear is the least of my concerns. I will travel soon and have a new appreciation for the experience – and be able to capture beautiful photos because of my new found hobby. 5 pounds? I have a loving heart and a deep soul that overpowers superficial beauty. But most importantly – sleep is my best friend. Tell someone – I promise you it will help.