My mental health has not been the best lately. That’s why many things I was once passionate about (for example, writing on this blog) have been abandoned for the past few months.
Usually when my various mental illnesses start rearing their ugly heads I do what any person with mental illness would do: I build a nice depression cave in my bedroom, camp out in front of my TV, and sleep a lot.
This isn’t healthy and at the age of twenty I think it’s time I start coping with my mental illness in better ways.
I’ve decided to write a few letters to my demons that have been haunting me the past few months. They’re personal, but they’re mine to share.
The first time we met I was three years old. I was the new kid on the playground in my preschool. I don’t remember having many friends, but things were going well for me. That is, until we had a fire drill one afternoon.
When the alarm went off without warning, I felt the rush of cold, blinding panic for the first time. My little three year old body didn’t like being startled; it was too much to handle. As we were re-entering the classroom for nap time and snacks after the drill, I met you at the door. You took my hand and whispered into my ear for the very first time: The alarm could go off again. Olivia laughed at you when you started to cry. You’re just a big baby. Pay attention to the alarm because it could go off at any minute. As I went to retrieve my stuffed animals and blanket from my cubby I felt the same feeling I had felt after the alarm went off creeping back up. It stayed at a dull roar keeping me awake during the nap hour, tossing and turning.
Anxiety, you’ve been by my side whispering in my ear at every turn for seventeen years. My relationship with you is the longest relationship I’ve ever been in.
While that may be flattering, the reason I’m writing this letter is to tell you that I don’t want to give you the power that has been awarded to you in the past. Seventeen years of whispering lies, constantly reminding me of embarrassing things I’ve said or done over the course of my life, and forcing me to destroy relationships is starting to take a toll on me.
Anxiety, I am reminded of one of our favorite games to play when I was in primary school. It was called “Start Fires And See Which Friends Put Them Out.” The game would start out like any other: you would perch yourself on my shoulder, sidle up to my ear and whisper: I bet none of your friends really like you. You should see if I’m right. But I know I am. And the game would begin. I would then proceed to spread rumors about my friends and lie to them, saying that they were being mean to each other behind backs. I would then sit back and wait to see who would ask me to be on their side.
Of course, this game ended in eighth grade when I lost all of my friends and had to sit alone at lunch most days. I don’t remember most of middle school, but I do remember the feeling of watching my old group of friends laughing and telling secrets just a few tables away from me. You remind me of this feeling every chance you can.
You love lying to me, Anxiety. You love telling me that everyone I hold dear to me secretly hates me. You love making me question the loyalty of my friends and my romantic partners.
I’ve been to therapy and I’ve been prescribed medication to try and get rid of you but nothing seems to work. I could lie and tell myself that writing this and sending it off into the world will make you go away, but I know it won’t.
You are an addict and I am your drug of choice. You feed on my insecurities and my fears. You get high on the lies you tell me. Every time someone leaves me behind because they can’t handle the person you turn me into, you feel a rush unlike anything else. And when I hurt: assaulted on the playground, cheated on, abandoned, lied to; you turn to your best friend Depression and you laugh and laugh and laugh.
Anxiety, I wish I could hate you, but I can’t. You’re a part of me and you have been since I was three years old. Having you with me has helped me grow in ways that I wouldn’t had I never met you. I’ve learned many lessons through the pain you’ve caused me. I know what I deserve and the kind of people I need in my life. You’ve shown me who will always stand by me, and for that I thank you.
That said, I don’t think I want you sticking around much longer. Seventeen years of fear, panic, insecurity, constant worrying, and pain is about all I can handle. You may be addicted to me, but I am stronger than you and if these past seventeen years have taught me anything it’s that no matter what you do and no matter what lies and fears you feed me, I always come out on top. And I always will.
I know that there will always be a part of you that will stick around, and I can live with that. But I hope that one day I will have the power to ignore you and the strength to fight back against you.
Your grip on me is loosening. I’m ready to finally say goodbye.
Yours (for now),