Friday, October 1, 2010

Sandcastles and paper boats

I have been diagnosed with Anxiety, Clinical Depression, ADHD.

In my experience, this makes life difficult. Especially if you don't have health insurance or the money for medication or regular therapy sessions. Now if you don't have first hand experience with mental illness, or if you're one of my very many friends that I don't talk about this with, you might be one of those people who think that it's not a big deal and I should go eat an ice cream sandwich or something and get over it.

Well for your information I just ATE an ice cream sandwich and that's not how it works. (Though it was delicious- hand baked oatmeal cookies with chocolate ice cream and a layer of raspberry jam. YUM)

I don't know how to accurately describe what (for me at least) living with mental illness to someone who doesn't is actually like except relating it to treading water in the deep end of a really beautiful ocean. Have you ever done that for more than a few minutes? Unless you're a lifeguard or Michael Phelps, it is EXHAUSTING and when you start to get so tired that you don't think you can take anymore your options are either: A. swim back to shore, B. find something else to lean on or swim towards or C. letting the waves sweep you under.

(This is where my metaphor gets really long-winded and kind of bizarre- but it makes sense to my admittedly crazy brain so I'm sharing it anyway.)

A. Going back to shore. This is what I'm doing right now. I've moved home, am only taking a couple classes and working part-time. This gives me a lot of room to take things easy and a lot of support from family and friends who know that I struggle. I am not saying this is not bad at all, it just isn't any forward motion. I'm catching my breath and building sandcastles but eventually I need to get back in the water.

B. Medicine or therapy would be the life preserver, or floaties, or the boat or whatever you want to imagine (Look how I'm getting you all involved in this!) Some of us just don't have the swimming abilities of others and it hurts to admit it, but I need help and I always will. Medicine for example, allows me to use my energy for other things. It's like when you're in the pool- it's much easier to laugh with your friends and sip a pina colada if you're laying on an inner tube or leaning on the pool walls right? (OH SNAP I just had a water related metaphor WITHIN a water related metaphor.)

C. Getting caught in the riptide. This is the darker side of mental illness but I'll be honest. Sometimes you get so tired (and seriously I'm talking about PHYSICALLY TIRED) that you just sink into your mattress and you can't imagine ever getting up. Sometimes the dark and the quiet and the still are just so comfortable that you don't even notice that you're drowning until it's too late.

So I am trying to craft my own life boat right now. I still have energy left to tread but I want to avoid getting to that dark place. I want to keep my head AND shoulders above water. So I'm taking this year (I measure my years by my birthday because I'm self-centered like that...) as a chance to actively search out happiness and try to avoid the watery depths of depression with a special project that I'll unveil on my 24th this Wednesday.

I'm not saying that I will ever be "cured" of mental illness and I'm not saying that this is going to solve all my struggles but I AM saying that I'm going to try something new and fun and hopefully you all will join in with me!


  1. I'll join! I live with anxiety & depression, too, and I'm at home taking it easy but my insurance is only focused on my physical health (my heart condition & hypothyroid, which causes quite a bit of the depression) Oh, my mattress is so comfy and there are days when doing the dishes is the best achievement I can muster. I'll swim back to shore with ya ;)

  2. Oh hun... if you ever read just a handful of my blogs you know this is something I also struggle with. I don't wish anxiety or depression on ANYONE... it is such a horrible, miserable, disease.

    Sending you hugs.

  3. Rach: Thanks- it makes me feel great to know I'll have a partner in crime! I think this project of mine will be kind of fun and something to help me keep my focus on the good parts of everyday. Sort of faking it til I make it you know?

    Cindy: I totally read every one of your blogs and your honesty & willingness to put yourself out there is one of the reasons I felt more comfortable writing this post! <3