I went to therapy this morning. My therapist told me I'm a perseverating ball of anxiety and that I need to get back into writing to bleed some of it out. So here I am.
I haven't been writing lately, journaling or blogging. I thought it was due to "writers block", a busy schedule or a lack of inspiration, turns out I'm being avoidant. Basically because I stuff all of my feelings away, behind the skin stretched across my face that's always smiling, and don't truly acknowledge or feel them until I pause, embrace the stillness, and accept all the feels (even the really shitty ones - my words, not hers).
And when you bottle that anxiety up for long enough, it festers and grows. Like an infected wound or a cancer. And it oozes into other areas of your life until you feel like your watching yourself from the outside, because this pathetic struggling soul can't possibly be you.
In sum, my experience of life has been pretty crappy lately. In an effort to be perfectly clear, my life itself is the farthest thing from crappy, I am beyond blessed. But my experience of life, my personal reality has been a big pile of (insert smiling poop emoji here). Why? That's a question even I can't answer sometimes despite my very intention to do so.
Some days I feel depressed. Other days I'm so anxious I find myself rubbing the middle of my chest, as if to get some relief. And some days, are just as they should be. Beautiful, happy. But lately, the beautiful days have been far and few between. It's been building, slowly. I've noticed it piling on over the past few days, weeks, even months. But in true firstborn I-can-do-this-myself fashion I kept shoving the gremlins down, pushing onward and upward, trying to exceed every expectation life, and those in my life, place on me. It's what I do (but I'm working on that).
Are there signs? Oh, of course. Like crying half of my snow day away because the stillness, the not-being-so-busy-I-actually-have-time-to-feel was just too much. Or the fact that I have intentionally avoided thinking or talking about my dead brother and the grief I carry for the past several weeks. Or maybe the strong aversion to going anywhere or doing anything with people that require sincere emotional interaction. All reality. All signs I've ignored and trampled over because they don't fit my perfect illusion of what I want my life to look like.
Not being happy, carefree and kind 24/7? What will people think?
Taking an emotional health day because you're crying your eyeballs out over someone you no longer have in your life? Not acceptable.
Staying in because you just need to be alone and work your shit out? People will start to talk...
The world doesn't leave space for mental health. I know this both professionally and personally. But then, what are we to do when we struggle? How do we acknowledge something the world doesn't choose to see? How can we talk about it when the conversation is never had?
You can only trample on and hide feelings for so long before they become physical manifestations. An illness. An injury. A headache. A digestive issue. If you shut your mental health out for long enough your body will find a way to express what it needs in other ways, until you're flat on your back and forced to face reality. So whether you listen to your body or your brain, please listen. Those feelings, those thoughts, they're trying to tell you something. And it might not be what you want to hear, but I promise it will be what you need to hear.
Anxiety is not my friend. And it certainly doesn't belong in the perfect illusion of what I want my life to look like. But anxiety is a part of my reality. And you know what? That's okay. Because I know what to do about it. Pause. Breathe. Be still. Acknowledge the feelings. And I know how to release it. Write. Talk. Listen. Share. And whether or not anybody else is talking about it, I have to. Because beautiful, happy days and depression, stress and anxiety don't have to be mutually exclusive.
If you're struggling with mental health, for whatever reason, reach out. Talk about it.
Find someone who is willing to have the conversation.
And check out the Campaign to Change Direction: http://www.changedirection.org
Eat Well. Live Well. Be Well.