I like to think of myself as a strong person. I help others to a fault and give until the well is dry. Once that point is reached, I find it difficult to do much of anything. Depression and Anxiety hijack my personality and I crawl into myself…and my bed.
If you ask me how I am, you will get my standard “I am well. How are you?” You’re probably only asking to be polite and don’t actually care, but I’m also terrified to tell the truth.
The truth is, I’m suffocating under the pressure to be okay. The truth is, I’m not okay.
When we talk, I will chat you up about the weather and the latest stories in the news. What I won’t tell you is that the weather hasn’t affected me much lately, because I haven’t been out of the house much. I won’t tell you that some days watching the news is as close to interaction with the outside world as I get; outside of getting the kids to school. I will, no doubt, keep this to myself out of fear that you may judge or – even worse – try to help me.
I will tell you I’ll call you, and then I’ll text instead. If you call me, you’ll be sent directly to voicemail. I won’t tell you how badly I wish I wanted to speak to or see you. I won’t tell you that if it were not for my relationship with God and my husband I would be sitting in a rubber room.
I feel embarrassed and pathetic to be struggling like this with all of the tools I have at my feet. Don’t worry, I won’t tell you that. I’m much too vulnerable and broken to risk it.
If we do talk, I will joke about the “joys of motherhood,” how often my poor kids are driving me crazy or how busy and tired I am. What I won’t tell you is that my anxiety is keeping me up most nights with terrible insomnia and I’m having trouble sleeping soundly anyway. I won’t share this, because I want you to think I have my shit together. I need you to see me together, because it keeps me from falling apart completely.
We’ll make plans to hang out and I’ll feign surprise when something suddenly comes up and I can’t make it. I’ll tell you one of the kids is sick or I have a migraine. What I won’t tell you is that my depression has turned me into someone I wouldn’t want to be friends with if I were you. Bringing this version of myself along to our date is out of the question. This girl takes so long to get ready to leave the house that sometimes it’s decided it might be easier to just stay home — so I do. There’s not enough make-up to mask this mess.
Most days I feel trapped. I won’t tell you how often I choke down tears or let them out sitting in the shower. I won’t tell you how overwhelmed I feel by the most mundane and simple life tasks like laundry or dishes. You’ll never hear about what a failure and fraud I feel like; how terrible a wife and mother. I’ll skip the part about how much the stifling guilt and shame enhances those feelings and feeds isolation.
I know if I tell you how I’m feeling you will understand. I know if I called you right now and let it out that you would listen and tell me I’m doing the best I can. You might even thank me for trusting you with my mess, and I might feel better for a moment. I just can’t bring myself to do that right now.
Everything is process and I know this is no different. I know this too shall pass, and that someday I will look back and feel grateful to be on the other side of it.
But until then… don’t ask. It’s not like I’ll tell you anyway.