The Crux Of The Thing.

I’ve struggled with crippling anxiety and depression for a couple years now. It’s not a fun thing. It’s made me more of a xenophobe than I’d really like – I don’t go outside because there /are scary and stressful things/ out there. I tend not to try new things because they, too, are scary and stressful. I stick to my safety nets and comfort zones to the point that BEING WILD AND CRAZY is so beyond me, I have no idea how to even go about it if I wanted to. It’s a pretty pathetic way to live, if I’m being perfectly honest.

The last few days I’ve had fits of anxiety about various things that seemed unrelated until I sat down and actually wrote out what they were, and I realized every single bit of stress I’ve had is because I feel like “I’m bad at everything.” No really, everything. It’s not a logical hang up, but there it is. Video games? I’m terrible. Writing? Terrible. Socializing beyond my 5 person Saturday safety net? Awful. My crazy brain has decided I am the captain of the SS FailBoat, and no amount of reason is going to steer me off my course. I can tell myself twenty times a day that no one person is terribad at everything, that clearly I’m good at some stuff (I got a lot of awards at work when I was actually there, I have a literary agent who’s absolutely fantastic, I have great friends and family) but it doesn’t seem to STAY PUT. It’s like a band-aid that I will gleefully rip off whenever my head goes for a trip on the dark side of the moon.

The only problem is? It has to stay put. I need to function at work. I go to doctors every week to get back on my feet and things ARE looking less bleak, but there’s a single appointment I have been waiting upwards of two months for simply because no one took my health insurance. This appointment is pretty important as it’s to try and figure out what chemicals in my brain are misfiring and causing panic attacks. Sooner would be way better than later on this, and yet . . . AND YET! At least I’m on the cancellation list for first available.

The point I’m making beyond WOE and HORRORS FOR HILLARY is that I know I’m not the only person who never feels Good Enough. In fact I’m one of many. Some people look at everything around them and instead of seeing the accomplishments, they see unwashed dishes, unfinished projects, a book they started to read but put down halfway through. Nothing is ever What They Expected, and so they live in fear of what that says about them. From someone who’s done all of these things and has pretty good hindsight? Do yourself a favor and find a way to get a grip NOW before you walk this path any further (and by getting a grip I mean talking to someone who can help you past it, whether that’s a therapist or a trusted loved one). Self-doubt is like a disease – if you treat it early and find a way to better understand the balance of your strengths versus weaknesses, you’ll be all right. But if you let it fester you’ve got major surgery ahead of you and there’s nothing to do but lose. I wish now I’d been a lot more pro-active about my mental health. By ignoring it and letting my fears and abject terror of failure run my life, I’m missing out on a lot of living I’d really like to do right now.

This dubious mental health advice brought to you by the letter Q and the number 6.

5 thoughts on “The Crux Of The Thing.

  1. Hi Hillary,
    Thanks for allowing this poignant peek into your life. You obviously care deeply about people, enough to share your own struggles and offer hope. I came upon your blog when I searched for something in the blogosphere to show my second year nursing students what is out there for people struggling with anxiety and depression. I truly believe when people realize that they are not alone, and it’s okay to speak about this stuff, it’s a first step to health and hope and may even circumvent suicides.
    Bless you.

  2. Thank you! I don’t really understand the shame associated with mental health problems. Actually, that’s not true, I understand what the shame stems from and it’s really sad. Some folks out there view anxiety and depression as character weaknesses, like folks just need to MAN UP AND GET PAST IT. That essentially because THEIR bodies are wired to be able to cope and process information/feelings one way, everyone should be the same. As someone who feels crummy far more than I should, I’d sort of like to shake those people until they get it. This is not Fun or Attention Grabbing. To lack some poetry? It sucks. Not everyone’s the same. Sometimes, people have chemicals misfiring in their brains so they literally /cannot/ handle what a lot of others find commonplace. Sometimes trauma pushes us past our limitations and we need help getting back to good. Feeling shame about anxiety and depression (to me anyway) is akin to feeling shameful for being born asthmatic. People have different struggles. The best we can do is try and talk about our own experiences in hopes it saves someone else from revisiting our pitfalls. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your nursing class.

  3. This is me in a nutshell (how did I get in this nutshell? Ha, sorry. Using humor as a defense mechanism la la la)

    I want to win at all the things. I want to be the best at ALL THE THINGS. But no one can do everything perfectly. And even when I get compliments I dismiss them or don’t value them as much as the criticisms. I read somewhere or heard from a therapist that it takes 7 or 8 compliments to override one single criticism. No wonder so many people are neurotic and think they fail at life.

    My new therapist has been big on the ‘squash the negative thought with a good one’ tactic. You think: “Oh god, I forgot about this bill. I suck at finances.” Then you make yourself stop, take a deep breath, and rethink it. “No. I made one mistake. I have paid five other bills on time this month. I made a mistake an it’s ok. I will fix it and move on.”

    And it works but it is exhausting.

    Hang in there. I hope your appointment goes well when the time comes and they find a solution that works for you so you can get out and enjoy doing stuff. Or stay in and enjoy doing stuff.

  4. “it’s hard to remember we’re alive for the first time.”

    I am not a fan of this disquiet. There must be another way.

    • I concur! But it’s taking me some time to figure it out. More time than I was willing to give it, if I’m being honest, and that’s probably the major issue.

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