I’ve put this off as long as I’ve been physically able to. This has been festering for far too long. Today is the expiration date for me to be trapped. Today is day one of freedom.
For most of my life, I have suffered from low-self esteem. I can look in the mirror, not like what I see, which then becomes anxiety. I panic about being around people. If I don’t like what I see, how can anyone else? That anxiety then morphs into depression because I cannot figure out why I think so low of myself. This debilitating cycle comes and goes. It’s usually very manageable. I can have my moments, isolate, cry and then get back to life. That’s what usually happens. A few months ago, I find myself in one of the worst lows I’ve ever experienced in my adult life.
I was in my regular cycle and during my anxiety phase, life started to happen. If it could go wrong, I think it did. Finances out of whack. Kids doing the most. Stress on top of stress. I found myself in a space that was familiar and foreign at the same time. When I went down, I could not get out. If I’m being honest, I’m still not out but I’m better off than I was a few months ago.
In the middle of this cycle, I finished my second novel, got a cover and set a release date for June 30th. I was supposed to be in Atlanta that weekend to release my book with my publishing company when all hell broke loose. My finances were not what they needed to be for me to get there but I also did not have the energy to try to make it happen. On top of that, my anxiety was telling me people were the enemy. Just the thought of having to talk to people stressed me out. So I put my book on hold and didn’t go. Well…I couldn’t go.
I was just so out of it. I couldn’t sleep…I was getting about 4-5 hours of sleep a night. I lost close to 15 pounds because eating was no longer a necessity. I cried because I was tired but I couldn’t go to sleep because my brain was working overtime to convince me that I wasn’t worth the air I was breathing. I was still going to church out of obligation but I stopped praying because God was not doing anything for me. Even though I have had depression most of my life (and I was diagnosed with major depressive disorder), I have never been suicidal. And I’m still not but…there were mornings I was mad that I woke up. I never judged people that committed suicide but I was always the person that worried about family and friends left behind. But for the first time, I understood why people did it anyway, despite having people that loved and cared about them.
Before anyone gets all bent out of shape, let me reiterate that I am not suicidal. That is not something I would do or would even consider. But I do understand being so low, so down, so out of it that not being here seems like the only acceptable solution.
Today, I am past that. Not healed but yesterday in church I was put in my place. I stopped praying for myself a long time ago because God wasn’t listening. No matter how much I prayed and praised, I was still a victim of low self-esteem, anxiety and depression. But in the last few months, the empath in me made me forget about myself and had to me to focus on other people. In a nutshell, an empath is someone that is emotional to the millionth degree. I can “feel” other people’s emotions and at times, it becomes too overwhelming. Sometimes the news and social media is too much because my heart breaks in tragedy. Sometimes TV shows, movies and books can get to me, too. I remember when George died on Grey’s Anatomy. Ya’ll…that took me slam out. I mean, I cried like he was a real person. I had to take a few days to regroup. So imagine what happens to me with real life situations. Other people’s feelings on top of my own can be a recipe for disaster.
But yesterday at church, I had the epiphany that maybe, just maybe, my low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression were the thorn in my side that God refused to move for the purpose of me being able to help someone else. And in the last few months, that’s exactly what’s been happening. I didn’t realize it until yesterday. My best friend tragically suffered two losses back to back and my entire heart shattered with hers. I felt terrible then I imagined how she must have been feeling, then I felt worse. But I was still trying to be strength for her. Then, two other people, that I don’t even know personally posted something that made me reach out and I’ve been trying to be an emotional support for them. In the midst of me helping them, I realized everything I was telling them was what I needed to be telling myself. As much as I was trying to support them, I was in turn supporting myself. I am not healed but I am healing.
I didn’t write this post for sympathy. Or for anyone to tell me it will be ok. Or for judgment. I wrote this post because I have been held hostage by this for months. I have been stuck in that moment of depression and even though I have found my way back to normalcy, I am not out of the woods. I wrote this post because we have been conditioned to ignore our mental health for fear of being labeled crazy. Or told to just pray about it. Or told to just be strong. I wrote this post out of transparency. I have some apprehension about sharing this (folks can be judgmental) but I’m tired of being a prisoner in my own mind.
If anything you read resonates with you, I urge you not to be the victim of your mind anymore. Seek help. Reach out to someone. Talk about it. It You will never heal if you keep it bottled up.