From The Archives,  True Life

What anxiety and depression does to an optimist

I’m generally a happy person. The most heartwarming compliments I’ve received have often been about my smile. And it’s true! I do love being happy and I love making others happy. And I genuinely do smile quite a bit around people I know. 

What most of my friends don’t see (besides a few really close people), is the struggle I have every day to get out of bed every morning. I have to fight myself and remind myself that I don’t need more sleep, especially since I slept through the whole night. It doesn’t matter about the recurring nightmares that are definitely unrealistic.

Once I get out of bed, things are a little easier, but still slow. I have to listen to some upbeat music to get my mind out of the sluggish zombie mode and into daytime mode. I eat breakfast, make lunch, and listen to the scriptures on my way to work.

My 3 hours at work are often slow, but it also has moments of extreme business. I hate the slow moments because I get bored and jittery at the same time. 2 minutes feels like 2 hours. The business keeps me motivated and charged. 

When I come home, my body immediately wants to shut down and sleep. If I indulge and take a nap, I won’t wake up for at least 4 hours. Then comes the struggle of getting up again, and forcing myself to make and eat a real dinner. I try to be in bed by 11. 

But when my head hits the pillow at night (even if I don’t nap), my mind starts racing. I think about work, family, friends, that awkward conversation I had with a cute boy when I was 12, etc. So I have to turn to the music again. This time it’s slow and soothing. It mellows me out somewhat, but doesn’t quiet my mind. I play solitaire on my phone until I can’t keep my eyes open. I plug the phone in, say a prayer, and toss and turn for another hour before finally falling deeply asleep. 

Of course, this is mainly what it’s like on a bad day for me. Unfortunately, the bad/hard days happen more often than I’d like. 

The important thing is that I still get up every day. I still smile and interact with everyone I meet/see. My anxiety sometimes wins and sometimes the depression takes over. The cool thing is that I know I am not my diagnosis.

What I am is a daughter of God. I have weakness, but that weakness is to remind me that I am only human and I can’t go it on my own. And I don’t have to. 

Anxiety and depression look like different animals to different people. For me, they are like Hydra (to use a nerdy Marvel reference). If one head is cut off, more appear. The good thing is that this IS manageable. And I’m managing it.

Sometimes one step is all you get to see. Sometimes you have to step in the dark. One step is all it takes to move forward. 

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