Mental illness has accompanied my entire life like that of a middle name; nestled in it’s invisible home between first and last, staying hidden within the comings and goings of life; often ignored and sometimes forgotten, but always present.
Panic attacks welcome depression and hopelessness and I have to fight the urge to curl up in my bed and ignore the day’s happenings. I ride the rollercoaster of unpredictability; the uncertainty of anxiety’s triggers and having to swallow the ever sneaking up lump in my throat.
I have become the master of the mask; switching from an overcoming weeping to a warm smile partnered with contagious laughter within minutes. I have learned to speak with confidence and agility, while my body is filled with panic and despair. I have become an expert at pushing down and ignoring what so desperately wants and needs to be heard. I can hear myself screaming from inside to speak out, but the fear of misunderstanding and rejection quickly smothers the outcry.
I don’t want anxiety to be the middle name anymore: the invisible, the unsaid, the forgotten. It needs to be acknowledged, and it needs to be talked about.
I have anxiety.
I have depression.
They are a part of me, but they do not define me. They have affected how I view and approach the world but do not stop me from discovering it.
So, know this: It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to have bad days. It’s okay to talk about it and it’s okay to ask for help. Not all days are bad ones, and not all days are spent under the bed covers. Take one day at a time. One hour. One minute.
You are not alone. You are understood, worthy and valued. Be kind to yourself. Believe in yourself.
Because, it’s okay.