I feel off today. Empty, broken, and more than a little tired. It’s even more off-putting due to the knowledge that I’d just had some really good days–weeks, really!–even though it felt like the deck was stacked against me.
This feeling reminds me that progress, healing, isn’t linear. That even though I’ve had good moments, I’m going to have bad days, and hard times, and backslide.
I have to focus on the progress I have made: I recognize and accept the likelihood of me being on medication for the foreseeable future, both antidepressants and mood stabilizers. I know that I need to continue to see my counselor. I recognize the symptoms of a bad day, anxiety attack, and some of the triggers. I know how to head it off (sometimes).
The progress I’ve made in the past four years is HUGE. When I was first diagnosed with anxiety I was terrified that someone would find out. I was convinced I could see a counselor a couple times, take the meds for a couple months, and I’d be magically cured. Clearly, this was not in the cards for me.
When I first started seeing my counselor, I was pretty closed off. It was like pulling teeth to get me to share, my body language was avoidant. Now I’m relieved to be able to word-vomit at her, emptying my troubles to someone on the outside.
I’ve also let go of my fear of people finding out. I’m much more open with people: students, family members, friends, about my struggles. I’ve opened up about seeing a counselor, taking medication, and my struggle with postpartum depression.
Some days I still feel like a failure for being mentally ill. For struggling, for being depressed when I have a great life. But when I take a look at how far I’ve come in four years, I know I’m not failing at all. I’m learning, I’m growing, I’m changing, I’m evolving.
My therapist joked that it was turning 30 that helped me turn the page. It’s part of it, not that I’ve suddenly stopped caring what other people think of me completely. But the awareness that I’m an individual in my own right who gets to choose what that means is more apparent to me than it used to be.
I’m not going to pretend there aren’t bad moments, and I know there will continue to be. I know I’ll spiral, I know that I’ll have moments of doubt. But looking back and seeing the growth I’ve had, also helps me know that I’ll be okay. That I’ll end up on the upside, the same way I have up until this point.