Wil Wheaton posted his speech from the NAMI Ohio conference titled “My Name is Wil Wheaton. I live with Chronic Depression and I am not ashamed.” (http://wilwheaton.net/2018/05/my-name-is-wil-wheaton-i-live-with-chronic-depression-and-i-am-not-ashamed/)
His words hit home with me, especially the pieces about the anxiety. I have anxiety, as well as depression. For me, the anxiety manifests itself in fears and OCD behaviors. I would have to touch certain things in order to protect myself because of fears that something bad would happen. I’d grown up planning how to survive if I lost my eyesight, use of my hands or any other number of strange unknowns. I didn’t realize I was different as a child. It was simply the way I handled my fears.
I shared a room with my sister (the other ones shared another room) and often at night we would come together in one room and tell stories. When we couldn’t sleep, we would crawl into bed with each other and talk until we fell asleep. Again, I believed this was normal.
As I got older, the “what if” fears became quiet as the “negative loop” became louder. My anxiety would tell me how I was ugly, unwanted, not good enough, and many other things. I believed it and built a wall around my feelings. After all, if I was ugly, I was going to be as snarky as possible putting the “truth” out there before someone could say it to me. I’d fully admit to people I was ugly and that their friendships didn’t matter, but it was only a coping mechanism. A way of pushing people away before they left me.
The depression would tag team with the anxiety. The “negative loop” fed my feelings of worthlessness and told me no one would care if I was gone. With my emotions locked down inside me, I found dangerous behaviors in order to feel alive. By the grace of God, I didn’t do anything permanent to myself.
As I aged, anxiety became more vicious, telling me things about my loved ones—how I wasn’t important, I wasn’t good enough for them, and in turn I fed the anxiety by asking over and over, needing reassurances in order to get through the day. It was challenging living with me. In fact, my husband at the time, used to call it JWS-Jealous Wife Syndrome which made my anxiety worse.
Finally, I sought help and am on medication. But it’s a daily challenge, much like the one alcoholics deal with. My “what if” fears are back in full force. When I can’t answer a call, I worry it’s someone calling with important news. If I can’t reach my husband, I worry he’s hurt at home alone. The cabinets and drawers in the kitchen must be closed and I have certain ways of doing things. New situations like subbing in a new school, adds to the anxiety and don’t get me started on peopling… like parties or meeting friends. Each day, I have to remind myself that the voice of my anxiety doesn’t rule me. His words aren’t real.
You may be wondering why I’m sharing all this personal things with you…I want to assure you, you aren’t alone. If you have anxiety or depression, there are others out there dealing with similar issues. While each person’s symptoms are different, it does help to know people continue to push forward through the muck every day, which I consider a win!
I have anxiety and depression and I’m not ashamed. I share my experiences with others and have even found out my sister has dealt with the “what if” fears. I make sure to give my son as much support as he faces similar issues. I'm also very lucky that my husband deals with similar OCD and depression. He gets me. And of course, puts up with my zaniness. Sometimes sharing the fears, makes them lessen.
And in case you haven't heard it today…You are beautiful, you are special, you are important, you are smart and you are loved.
PS. If you ever need to talk, I'm always here. <3
Musings from Michigan