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“Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter.” — Izaak Walton
Some people may look at my life on the surface and think I have it made. I come from a good, hard-working family. I live in sunny California amongst the glamorous people, palm trees, and beaches. I have a great career, the same one for the past eleven years. I socialize with friends and family, when I am able. Overall, it is a great life. But reach below the surface and you will discover, California is not always sunny for me. There is an overcast that follows me wherever I go.
It is the same cloudiness that has followed me since I was a child growing up in Kansas. From as young as nine or ten years old, I seemed to be more emotional than the people around me. I cried almost every day and hid it from friends and family, for fear of being ridiculed. I was nervous around people to the point of shaking or becoming nauseated. Somehow, I hid that too. I worried more than any child should and had an overwhelming feeling that no one on earth loved me.
Why did I feel this way? Why did I cry so much for no apparent reason? Were there others like me, and if so, did they have the answer? How could I fix it? I wanted so badly to feel “normal”. These feelings and questions became increasingly exhausting.
As I got older, if I was not at school, I would stay in my room as much as I could. On weekends, I would only come out for food or something to drink. In my room, I cried, and I wrote. I kept binders with my writings in them – poems, stories, songs, plays, you name it. Aside from writing, I had no joy. It helped a little to get my feelings on paper, but I needed more help than that offered. I also slept a great deal while I was in that room. This could be why my mom did not think to check on me when I slept through an entire weekend without once waking up. I am sure she thought I was just sleeping and writing as usual. The sleeping part was right. I was fifteen and it was the first time I tried to end my life.
The second time I tried to take my life barely had an affect at all. The third time, however, was a close call. Fortunately, a friend got me to the emergency room in time. A few days later I was released from a hospital. Shortly thereafter, at age seventeen, I was diagnosed by a psychologist as having clinical depression and general anxiety. These are commonly diagnosed together. The psychologist gave me the answers I had been longing for. She then referred me to another doctor who prescribed medication and I began seeing a therapist regularly.
I was again diagnosed in my twenties, thirties, and forties. I am currently forty-two. Throughout the years, I have attended therapy sessions when I felt it was needed. I have been on and off medication. I have also tried other methods of dealing with my mental illness: prayer, exercise, vitamins, eating healthy, and anything else I could think of that might be helpful. For a while, all these things helped me so much that I thought I was cured. It got better. Then, I stopped doing them, and it got worse.
Today, I continue to live with these disorders. The clouds still creep in now and then. Unfortunately, when they do, they like to stay for a while. However, I utilize a combination of self-care techniques to manage my mental health and bring happiness into my life as much as possible. Though writing will always be my first love, I am now able to find joy in other things. I also know that I am loved by family and friends. Most importantly, I am loved by me.
My goal is to document some of my journey here, to give people insight as to what living with depression and anxiety can be like. Keep in mind, nothing I do is a cure, but I feel the things I do give me a better quality of life and help me to survive.
My hope is that starting this blog will facilitate conversation about mental health and let others know that it is possible to keep going. I want to do as much as I can to show others that even if we feel different from those around us, life can continue. We can live with depression and anxiety and we can still accomplish our dreams.
While my wish is to write about the positive actions I take to achieve as much joy as I can, I do not intend to sugarcoat these disorders. I will do my best to be very open. There will be times I am unable to write because of depression. I will write about those specific times once I am able.
Please join me on my journey by clicking the Follow button and continuing to read this blog. I look forward to your comments.
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