I don’t even know when things started to fall apart.
I know that working for months to try and get my health back on an even keel was so hard and stressful. I worried all the time – about what was really wrong, about the time I was taking off of work, about if I was getting in trouble for calling in, if changes in medication were helping, about how bad I was feeling, about if I would ever feel better.
I went to a primary care doctor and after a bunch of tests, she told me that other than the auto-immune disease, I was really healthy. I was so relieved when she said everything was ok, because then I could really hone in on trying to manage the Hashimoto’s.
A month or so later, everything went to hell at work and I resigned from my job. I started living off of my savings account as I was looking for a new job, a new 9-to-5. I went on interviews and had some awesome interviews and some not-so awesome interviews. And then the phone stopped ringing and the emails stopped coming and I felt like such a loser. I felt like a failure.
I was so angry and jealous and bitter, and then I just felt hopeless. I had wrapped up my entire worth around a 9-to-5 job. If I had one, I was good, worthy, ok. If I didn’t, then what the hell was I doing and what the hell was I going to do?
Every morning I woke up, I felt a little bit worse. A little sadder, a little more scared, a little bit less. All of those feelings were wrapped up in a hard little ball in my heart.
For three months I wrapped myself up in a blanket and kept the blinds closed. I scratched my kitten’s back and stared into space. I was hurt and lonely and angry and scared. I was so scared of everything outside of my front door, especially after someone tried to break into my house. Inside was safe, outside was not. I withdrew from everything. I isolated myself from so many people and didn’t talk to anyone except my coach and my mom and my brother because I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t have words to articulate what was going on, so I was silent. I stopped speaking.
How many times could I say I’m so hurt by the way my old bosses treated me?
How many times could I say I suggested that and they told me no but now they’re doing it?
How many times could I say I’m so scared about not finding a job?
How many times could I say I don’t know what I’m going to do?
How many times could I say What am I going to do now?
Because I didn’t know what to do. I felt frozen and scared. I sat and watched Grey’s Anatomy. It didn’t make me feel any better, but it didn’t make me feel any worse either, and sometimes not feeling any worse is a victory.
My coach asked me if I thought I needed to go back on meds, and I said no, something about how things would get better or how I was ok, something like that. Because in my mind, because it wasn’t as bad as it’s been before, it was ok, I was ok.
But I was so not ok. I was not ok.
I struggled with the thought of going on meds, what it represented to me, what I thought it would represent to others. It felt like the hardest decision I’d ever made, but after it was done, it felt so simple.
I needed help. I needed to get help. And to hell with what anyone else thought.
There is no shame in living with anxiety and depression.
There is no shame in asking for help.
There is no shame in asking for support.
There is no shame in being on meds.
There is no shame.
That’s why I wanted to write this, because I felt shame. I felt scared to tell this story, I was afraid of what people would think.
But there is no shame in any of it.
If you’re living with anxiety or depression and you need help, please get it. I know how hard it is and can be, please know that. But it’s not a sign of weakness, it’s one of the bravest things you will ever do. And it will get better, it will get easier. The light will come back.
If someone you love is living with anxiety or depression, please be gentle with them. Let them know they aren’t alone – send them an email or text message or letter and let them no there’s no pressure in responding. Be there if and when they want to talk. Listen to them even if they repeat the same things over and over, those are the words that need to be spoken.