Life comes in waves.
The past few weeks taught me that. For the first time in nearly two years, I felt depressed and anxious. At first I thought I was having a bad day… but one bad day turned into a bad week which turned into an entire rough patch.
I was upset about being upset. I worked so hard to be happy in life and I was terrified that I would lose that. I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t shake this feeling and I didn’t understand where it came from. I’m happy, so loved by so many people, doing what I’ve always wanted to do in life… why the depression? Why the anxiety? Why can’t I stop crying?
I always saw emotions as something you could fix because I lived almost half of my life as someone who needed to be fixed. I was “broken” – I needed help. When I was told that I had PTSD, it put a name on this thing that I was battling and there were ways that we could “fix” it. Learn what triggers me and avoid it, learn the warning signs of a panic attack and how to calm myself down enough to prevent them, rid myself of those who aren’t contributing to my happiness, open myself up to talking about it… the list goes on.
So when I realized that I was fully content and happy with my life for the first long stretch, I thought I was fixed. That no one could touch my happiness. Sure, there were pockets of sadness… but they usually lasted about a day or so and then I was fine.
But what I’ve realized this month is that this is no immediate fix or cure. Anxiety is anxiety, depression is depression and I’m just someone who will always have to battle that. Yes, 95% of my time is spent in pure and genuine bliss. I love life in a way that I never thought was possible. I have the most outstanding family and friends who support my crazy ideas and risky dreams. I would never trade who I am and the life that I have. But I have to accept all that I am and that means that I have to accept that sometimes I’m going to be really depressed or really anxious.
I’m completely fine today. I know this because my chest doesn’t feel tight – I don’t have that physical sensation of anxiety for the first time in about a month. I don’t have to remind myself that everything is okay, I don’t have to play the music I use to keep myself calm and breathing. I feel fine.
My life is a series of high highs and low lows. I love life with a heart that can be a little overwhelmingly ecstatic at times… but at the same time, I have days where I’m sitting around people I love, doing things that I love to do, thinking that I’m fine and out of nowhere I feel a panic attack coming on.
And I need to accept that.
I need to accept that there is nothing wrong with being anxious or depressed. I need to accept that everything doesn’t have to be justified. I need to accept that it’s not my fault that I have these feelings. When I start to feel a panic attack, it’s not because I’m doing something wrong with my life, it’s because I have anxiety. When I’m depressed, it’s not because I don’t appreciate the things I have, it’s because I’m depressed. I can do everything in my power to limit the amount of anxiety I feel (and I have) but I can’t help it if I have a week where I’m anxiety ridden. I need to stop trying to justify and control everything and just ride out the waves. I need to trust that the people I love won’t judge me for having flaws. I need to trust that the people I work with understand that I’m still capable and hardworking. I need to stop labeling myself with a stigma that I hope others don’t put on me. I need to love and appreciate the 95% clear weather, the high highs, the love and zest for life… but just as importantly, I need to accept the times where my anxiety takes over and trust that it doesn’t define me.