Today’s post is very different from the others around my blog because today I am getting extremely personal. I first launched my blog about two months ago but until today no one I know personally has been invited to read it. Why? One word – anxiety. But, just as I have mentioned in other posts, the best way to fight back against anxiety is to face it head on. And so today I have made the decision to invite those close to me to read what the rest of the world has had access to for a while now. The rest of this post is dedicated to those people.
Dear Family and Friends,
Thank you for taking the time to come to my blog. Just the thought that you may be interested in what I have to say is pretty humbling, honestly. When I initially made the decision to put my writings online, I truly thought no one would ever read anything except for maybe my mom. But over the past two months I have been surprised at the positive feedback I have gotten from strangers. Still, revealing my thoughts to you all isn’t easy.
I was asked recently by someone who had read my blog why I was okay sharing content with strangers, but too afraid to let those I know read it. At first, I didn’t really have an answer. But after some deep thinking, I came to a realization: I value your opinion way too much.
Why I Am Afraid
You see, if a stranger criticizes me, it isn’t too hard to just shrug my shoulders and go on. But you, those I am close to, those I love, those I admire and respect, your opinion matters. I can’t ignore it. This doesn’t just apply to my blog, but to every aspect of my life. For example: when my anxiety levels are high, I struggle to even cook for my husband. Is it because I’m a bad cook? No. Is it because he is a picky eater or that he makes me feel bad for my cooking? Absolutely not!
It is because I am afraid. I am so afraid of making him have a bad opinion of something I did. Thoughts of burning the food, forgetting a certain spice, or simply taking too long sometimes overwhelm me to the point that I just have to crash in the bed and talk myself into even getting back up. My fear of disappointing him often makes him more disappointed when I don’t even finish preparing the meal.
In regards to this blog, the fear has been real. Since the very first day I made it public, I have felt conflicted. On the one hand, I have wanted to share this with you because I know so many of you can relate. I know some of you also suffer from mental health conditions and maybe something I will say can help you. Explaining the way I see and feel about things sometimes seems like a good idea. It feels like it may help you to understand me a little bit more which could improve our relationship.
But it could also result in disaster. By sharing this blog with you, I am welcoming you into my world – one I have worked hard to shut everyone out of for most of my life. I am allowing some of my deepest thoughts and struggles to become known. My biggest fear, however, is that you will be disappointed. Some people believe mental illness is just made up. You may think I’m not trying hard enough, or perhaps I’m just looking for sympathy. Perhaps you think I should just pull myself up by my boot straps. In your mind, you may be sure you have the perfect solution for my mental health struggles. And while I am glad to hear your suggestions, I am terrified I will be overwhelmed by them.
Unbeknownst to many of you, I am extremely fragile emotionally. An unkind word, a look of disapproval, or even just a gentle criticism could quite possibly be all it would take to convince me that I am wasting my time on this project, and that terrifies me. Writing this blog has helped me to understand myself and the way my mind works. It has helped me to feel I am doing something worthwhile. But I don’t trust my own opinion and my own thoughts. I trust yours. And so you have a lot of power that I’m sure you don’t even realize you have.
Some Things I Want For You To Know
This is the absolute most important thing I want to make clear. I am extremely sorry for the way I have treated you at times in my life. When my mental health takes a toll, I have said many unkind things and for that I apologize. More than that though, I want to apologize for the things I haven’t done. I want to say I’m sorry for the social events I haven’t come to. I really, truly wanted to be there, but sometimes it’s just too much for me. There are also the times I manage to show up but then turn into a whiny, crying mess in the bathroom or behind the building.
I especially want to apologize to my family in other states because it seems these breakdowns occur more often there than anywhere else. It isn’t because I don’t like spending time with you. It’s because I’m away from my comfort zone, my home, and my routine and I am really, really overwhelmed and afraid. My desire to build a relationship with you often creates so much anxiety that I tear it down instead and for that I am truly sorry.
I Want To Be Included
Knowing that you consider me enough of a friend to invite me somewhere is such a great feeling! And even though I may not be able to make it, or may leave early, I truly am grateful to be included. While I may appear very stressed, scared, and uncomfortable (and while I truly may be) the other part of me is thrilled.
I Really Am Trying
I know my life is not ideal and that a good portion of that is because I have not stayed on top of things. It has been years since I have tried to truly fight back against anxiety and depression and so those “monsters” as I call them have gained a lot of strength and I have become very, very weak. While you may see me falling victim, I want you to know I am trying. I am trying as hard as I possibly can.
How You Can Help
Anxiety and depression have beat me up pretty bad over the past few years and I have just recently begun to truly raise up out of the darkness. But I have got a very, very long way to go to really take back my smile. While this is my own personal battle, there are definitely some ways you can help.
Read My Blog
Okay, okay, so that may sound a bit crazy, but I’m serious. I am able to write things in this blog that I could never tell anyone face to face. Writing has been my outlet my entire life, although up until now almost everything I’ve written has been thrown straight into the garbage. That being said, however, by reading the posts in this blog, especially the My Story section, I believe you may develop a deeper understanding of my struggles and just how hard I am working to overcome them.
Remember The Power of Words
As I said before, I am very emotionally fragile. While I may smile at what you perceive to be an innocent joke, I very well may cry myself to sleep that night as I remember the incident. At the same time, a compliment can go a really, really long way (even if I act really awkward when you give it). The closer your relationship is to me, the more influence your words have. So please, remember just how much your words mean.
Don’t take no for an answer too easily. If my mind has gone into “no mode” where I just have to say no to everything, give me a bit to calm down and then ask again. If you can especially make it known that you want me to be there, and that I’m not a burden by coming, even better. But either way, sometimes, especially when depression takes hold strongly, leaving my house isn’t easy and I just need a little push.
Let Me Know The Plan
Those who are closest to me already know, but many of you don’t. I have a very, very hard time with spontaneity. Someone knocking on my door unexpectedly sends me into a tailwind of fears and emotions, sometimes to the point I can’t even open it. If I don’t know what to expect in a situation, my mind rushes around trying to establish each and every potential scenario. It is exhausting and it often even leads to physical illness.
That being said, if we are doing something together, let me know as many details as you can as soon as you can. Don’t show up unexpectedly. Let me know when you’re coming and approximately when you’ll be there. If you leave later than you anticipated or you get stuck in traffic, please send me a message and let me know. Otherwise I will be pacing the floor and staring out the window every time a car drives by my house. I may even be searching current events to make sure you haven’t been killed in a car accident along the way.
Tell Me How You Feel
The worst part of my anxiety is not knowing where I stand. A strange look in my direction may cause me to wonder all kinds of things about what you’re thinking when in reality you may have just noticed a dog walking along behind me. I like honesty and I like people being upfront in a kind, respectable manner. I am not good at taking social clues and I often worry if I’ve misread them.
While words are powerful and they may be painful, I would much rather have someone be upfront about their negative feelings and opinions than have to worry and over analyze them for weeks. So please, don’t beat around the bush. Don’t try to protect me. Yes, I may fall apart because I do value your opinion and I don’t want to be a disappointment. But I need to know how you feel and think about our relationship and other aspects of our lives together.
I can’t end this without saying thank you to those who are in my life. I am very appreciative to those of you who knew about my blog but did not pressure me to give you access to it until I was ready. Thank you to those who have continued to allow me to be in your lives despite my crazy moments. Thank you to those who have encouraged me along the way and given me the strength to keep going and to those who have let me cry on your shoulders.
I can’t thank each and every one of you personally, but let me say thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read this and make an attempt to understand my mindset and what I am doing to try to change it. Please keep coming back to the blog and even share it with others you know who struggle.
With Best Regards,