Anxiety. Depression. Mental health.
Words that I hear being thrown around and that I’ve used never really considering them my own. “I have an amazing life” is a thought I have constantly and I’m incredibly grateful for all the adventures, trips, lessons I´ve had throughout my life…but sometimes that phrase is followed by “…then why do I feel so lonely, sad and even scared?” You see -for me- having anxiety or feeling depressed isn’t about not feeling grateful for my life. It’s having a mind that is constantly in fight or flight mode, where the to-do’s just feel so overwhelming and crushing that I freeze up (making the situations I’m struggling with even harder to fix), it’s feeling lonely while surrounded by people, not being able to solely focus on the present moment, to constantly have future scenarios running through my head, and simply not being able to shut it off, it’s feeling like this constantly throughout the year, almost like a cycle I go through. I’m not saying I embrace it, but at least I’m able to recognize it and that feels like a good first step to dealing with it better.
Yesterday, for the first time, I felt a panic attack. I realized my breathing was getting heavier, my chest felt tight, and my heart raced. I recognized all the symptoms and couldn’t really believe I could get one. It startled me. It happened twice in around thirty minutes. The person I was with tried to rationally tell me how great my life was and how I shouldn’t be feeling that way. Like I told them, it wasn’t about feeling ungrateful, it was a moment where my body and my mind were simply not playing nice and all I needed was to breathe and feel physically supported. Since yesterday, I’ve spoken to my parents and very close friends about how I’m feeling. I know my social media looks like my life is perfect and always happy but – and don’t get me wrong, I still can’t believe I’ve been, seen, or done half the things I’ve lived – the reality is that there’s a lot that goes on inside that’s hard to depict or show in pictures. It’s endless conversations in my head, it’s worrying constantly about losing people I love, it’s feeling like I’m never doing a good job, that I should always have done a little better, completely overwhelmed, a sensation that time goes by too fast, that I have to do everything now and perfectly AND also be enjoying it, that if I’m not feeling great there must be something wrong with me. It’s really had me thinking about how often I fall into these pits of dark emotions. How negative my vocabulary becomes, how people just pinpoint how much I’m complaining and really shouldn’t, that everything will be ok. And yes, I KNOW everything WILL be OK. But I also know it’s OK not to feel OK right now.
Looking back and realizing how cyclical these emotions and periods in my life over the past years got me worried, realizing and accepting that I do have depressive tendencies and anxiety is a scary thing to admit and recognize. I recently asked someone if they believed being vulnerable was a weakness. They said yes, “the word itself means it’s a weakness” and to an extent they are right, it is defined as “The quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.” But I come back to my life, my story, and my conscious decision of choosing to live exposed and open. Because even though living like this and so in touch with my emotions and unafraid of showing or speaking about them, can mean being open to injury and pain…I think… I know, it also means allowing all the wonderful, light, and beautiful parts of who I am to be seen and exposed and to the possibility of connecting and feeling that genuine love with those around who are courageous enough to live and love life this way. My beautiful friend Clare was one of these people, we talked more than once about how hard it was to feel -just feel- so intensely and how hard it was to feel such strong pain at times. She, as well as other friends, made me realize I wasn’t alone, and I miss her so much in times like these when I know she would just get it.
So, although accepting this part about myself is scary and does feel like it comes with a stigma and judgment (mainly from myself) in a way it also makes feeling this way more bearable. Like a friend said, “it’s chemicals and hormones…it’s something deeper and harder to control than you think so just remember that.! And I think it will at least make it easier for me to deal with these bouts of emotional days, to simply accept it as a part of myself without judging myself so harshly over it. Not to use it as some sort of excuse but to be able to recognize and deal with it using the tools I have -and continue- to learn along the way. So, to everyone that has heard me complain and whine in the past days…thank you for listening. I know things are going to be ok, things are always going to be ok. For me, being able to verbalize everything that I’m feeling is a way of healing, of finding patterns in my speech, of receiving feedback from people whose opinion I value, so being able to talk it through is the best medicine and I am incredibly grateful for everyone that has heard me out these past days. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…I might have been to over thirty countries around the globe, visited the most beautiful places, and lived amazing adventures but the thing I am most grateful for is the incredible people that I’ve met along the way and are a continuous part of my life regardless of distance or time apart.