Yesterday I woke up and couldn’t make it to the end of my block while I walked the dog before this overwhelming, out-of-the-blue panic hit me. I immediately turned around and could see my house but I felt like I could not get there fast enough. I began to run, trying to match my movement with my heart rate. When I got home there was both a sense of relief and of disappointment. My home is my comfort zone, and that is sometimes disappointing.
As the day went on, I had bouts of crying. Five or six times I broke down as I watched my husband sit there not knowing what else to say other than “You’re going to be okay, you’re just going through a bad time right now.” He held me in the bed as I cried again. He has known me for six years and he has not seen me go through this before. But I have, many times. I warned him about these times. I don’t think he believed me. I don’t think he ever thought the vibrant, happy, and full of zest for life woman he married could be the same person sitting in front of him telling him “I promise I won’t kill myself, but I just feel like I am dying.”
I cannot explain to him in a way he can understand why I feel the way I do right now. I feel these things because I have a mental illness and every so often, I become sick again. I have always had the lingering generalized anxiety that I can manage daily. But this deep-seated depression I cannot keep at bay. It will stay for a while. And while I do my best not to let it control me and take me, it’s powerful.
Some days I am just too tired to fight and it makes my generalized anxiety worse. On those days I stay home and I cry. And sometimes I cry a lot. I will run laps in my large basement, I will shower and cook and try to ignore the noise in my head. It is exhausting to go against the grain of just wanting to lie down and go to sleep forever.
Today I felt pretty good. I had to work and I spent a lot of time out in the sun. I laughed a lot. I smiled many times. I didn’t cry. I felt like my anxiety was just a faint ache in my veins, barely noticeable and most tolerable. It didn’t stop me in my tracks and the fleeting moments were just that — fleeting moments. A few times I caught myself thinking about the fact that I feel pretty good and I breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude.
Why can’t every day feel like this? Temporary relief, even if not 100 percent.
On any given day, my feelings, perception, opinions and thoughts might change depending on my illness. If you catch me on a good day, I will be full of optimism and hope. If you catch me on a rough day, I will be full of anxiety and tears and hopelessness. I do not know from one day to the next how I will feel. I start each day with great intention, doing the positive things that I hope help to get me into a good headspace. I read, meditate, pray. I use positive affirmations and self-talk and my 12-step recovery program.
Some days I win. Some days I feel defeated. I have never felt normal. I hate that.
Lately I have had some very rough days, weeks, months. I have been in this place before. I am sliding into the bottomless pit of despair with nothing tangible to grasp onto. I am holding on for dear life and hoping that eventually I will find my way back out like the other times, but there is that little voice inside of me that whispers, “ what if you can’t this time?”
I think about all the times I have been in this dark place before and I wanted to die and the amazing days I had after because I chose to stay. So I hold on, hoping the mental storm will pass again and I will have some peace again one day.
My story has no ending, and that is OK. Because it means I am still here choosing life, even on days I feel like dying.