People living with mental health issues deserve respect for themselves and the decisions that they make for themselves. I believe that a lot of beliefs or comments said about mental illness are said out of lack of understanding, knowledge and fear. After all, we are all different in our experiences and no one can tell what it truly feels like unless you are going through it. This is why I find it important to talk about it.
My anxiety requires constant effort. Last night, I felt great. I felt like I was a good mother, a good wife, a good person. I felt like life was going to be okay. I finally felt like I could breathe.
This morning, I was having a conversation about school with my child, who struggles with a learning disability and social anxiety. She’s not happy with her choice of concentration and would like to change for next year. The problem is that we are living outside the zone for this high school and changing could force her to change school too. This would be okay if it wasn’t for the fact that after the 2nd year of high school, she wouldn’t be going to the high school (3,4,5) of her choice and the one she would be forced to go to doesn’t have the classes she wanted. So she has to choose between staying in a concentration she hates for another year and then goes to the school she wants or change school and be happier and never have access to the classes she wanted. This morning both choices just had horrible in her mind and I could see she was trying to hide her tears from me.
Like many parents, I wished I could own a magic wand that fixed all problems or that made everything easier to deal with, but I don’t. Driving home after having dropped her off at school, I reminded myself that it is good for children to face disappointment and have to make difficult decisions. I felt better.
Sitting down at my desk getting ready to work, my daughter’s hidden tears was still on my mind. I started to feel bad. I know that my child was trying to hide her tears. What if she decides she can’t deal with 5 years of school and takes her own life? I burst into tears thinking I was going to lose my daughter. Yep, that’s anxiety for you. I went from this is a good life experience to I’m going to lose my child to suicide and I didn’t do enough to stop it, in a matter of a second. There is no middle ground. I burst out into tears. I started having a migraine and feel physically sick. Even if everything in me wants to suppress my emotions and my panic, the pressure only builds up insides until it explodes. The more I try to suppress it, the worse it gets.
It’s better to let go, even important things, to focus only on your breathing. I started repeating a mantra in my head. “My child is strong enough. She will get through this.” over and over again. “Stop worrying so much, you are not helping anything.” over and over again.
I called the school to see if there was any way she could stay in the current school if she backed out of her current concentration. I’m still waiting for the answer. No matter what the final decision is, I did what I could. I can’t control everything. Something anxiety has a difficult time accepting.
Before I was on medication, this whole, this tornado of doomsday thoughts would take over my body and I wouldn’t have any control over it. With medication, I still fight against anxiety, but now mantras and writing it out helps calm the storm. I may not feel wonderful, but it’s better than making myself constantly sick to the point of hospitalization. Taking anti-depressants makes it possible for me to get to a point where I can adopt other practices that may help combat depression and anxiety.
I know that even though I am doing everything in my power to control my mental illness, through medication and soon therapy, there are going to be those days, weeks or even months when there is no rhyme or reason as to why I feel the way I do and that’s probably the most frustrating part, the feeling of having no control and still one must push through the day.
Regardless of someone’s personal beliefs about antidepressants, no one has a right to be judgmental, patronizing, or stigmatizing about someone else’s choices. Anti-depressants are an important part of mental health care for some people, including me and it’s about time we stop criticizing people for taking care of themselves.
The problem with anxiety is that once it’s triggered you feel like the day will never end and that you will live the horror at every moment.