Revealing my Authentic Self

On Saturday Kourtney and I went out (basically on a double date) with two of our favorite people, R and P– I don’t know how they feel about being on my blog so I’m gonna keep them as anonymous as I can. Anyway, Kourtney and I have known R since high school, and although we haven’t known P for nearly as long he’s really great to hang out with and he and Kourtney have a lot in common so they’ve got a bit of a bromance going on. They live a few hours away from us but they just happened to be in town, so we went out for dinner and drinks. Kourtney and P decided to go to the bar, so R and I stayed and talked and it was awesome and SO VERY MUCH NEEDED.

R and I have pretty different stories, but they stem from the same mental illness diagnoses. We both suffer from anxiety and depression that has been, at various points in our lives, severe and debilitating. We are both in recovery for eating disorders. We’ve both dealt with self-injury. And we both have loving, supportive spouses who sometimes just don’t get what it means to be clinically depressed or anxious and how that affects the way we function in the world. So we just really get each other. It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to hang out and really talk about how we’re doing. I didn’t realize how badly I needed to be understood, to talk with someone who knows what it’s really like to deal with mental illness on a daily basis. To share our war stories. I felt like I could really be my authentic self, because of all the identities and parts of me that I carry, my mental illness identity is one I try to hide the most– and it feels like a burden sometimes.

I felt like that burden was lifted on Saturday, at least for a little while, as we talked and shared with each other. And we reminisced and got nostalgic about our high school days and we talked about what we were like back then, when we were teenagers. About how it was awesome and scary and we were happy and angry and sad and our minds were totally wild, unchecked. We had no idea how to cope with what we now know is anxiety and depression (and probably many other things), and all we had were really our friends to get us through it. Now we’re adults and we know better– we have resources we didn’t have back then, and we know how to advocate for ourselves, and we’ve learns (some) better coping skills. It’s kind of interesting to see us both as adults with jobs and spouses, and notice how our anxiety and depression manifest in different ways now– we have adult problems. Like taxes, and insurance, and rent. And although our lives are pretty good (I would even go so far as saying really good), we still struggle. Because clinical anxiety and depression do not depend on good times or bad times. They go beyond that. Sometimes I feel depressed even when everything seems to be going right. And I’m still anxious 95% of the time– on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being not anxious at all and 10 being full blown hospital level panic, I feel like I’m at a 3 most days.

So yeah, it’s nice to have someone who gets that. Who understands that it’s mental illness is ILLNESS, and that it’s manageable, but it doesn’t just go away. And some days are better than others. So I really appreciated having the time to talk with her and be heard.

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