I have struggled with mental illnesses since I was in middle school. Anxiety was the main bully of my mind, but occasionally it brought its buddy depression. I didn’t fit in, and my separation made me an easy target for kids to ridicule because kids will be kids and kids can be absolutely awful.
And as I got older the anxiety left me with constantly elevated blood pressure and insomnia issues, but I still didn’t understand the problem. Once I spoke up to my doctor about trouble sleeping, but when he followed up at my next appointment my anxiety convinced me that I shouldn’t bother him with such trivial things. After all, I wanted to be healthy.
And as I grew older the anxiety got worse, and so did the depressive episodes. After turning 21 I would, on my darkest nights, try to numb the pain with alcohol, which never truly worked and only fed an anxiety about what I’d done the night before while drunk.
And then I got help. And the insomnia became a much more infrequent visitor. I stopped self-medicating with alcohol, and instead started enjoying it socially and in greater moderation. Now I even have real medicine for the demons in my head. And it helps.
And the therapy and the medication and the support of friends and family as I’ve become more open have made things better in some ways, a lot of ways. But the anxiety and depression has, in its own way evolved and gotten worse. I am less anxious about saying the wrong thing thanks to my meds, but more stressed by large crowds than ever before. The depressive episodes are less frequent, but hit harder, to the point I can barely get out of bed.
And I look towards the future and the fear about how this darkness will grow clouds everything.
I fear this darkness will only get worse, and the tools I’ve learned to manage it will stop working one by one. I fear that when I have kids I will pass my demons on to them. I fear I won’t be the husband or brother or son or uncle or person I need to be. And this fear is so constant. It is exhausting.
I’ve thought about writing this post for a while now, but the fear has always stopped me, as if naming, saying it aloud would somehow give it more power over me. But I don’t know that I can keep that fear under wraps any more. And I hope and I pray that by putting it out there that I can set it free and finally be rid of it, rather than giving it more power. I don’t know if it’ll work, but it is worth a shot. Beyond that I just have to have faith that my ability to manage my fear will get better with more time, more therapy, and more self-compassion.
And at this point that is all I can do until the future comes and I finally have to face that fear.