Lately, the good days have been adding up.
The struggle through the holidays wasn’t as brutal.
Laughter and smiles more frequent and less forced.
Favorite activities such as reading and exploring are present and active.
My tools and antidepressants are working. And working well.
Everything I do on a daily basis to treat my depression is doing the job.
Therapy, lamp light, vitamins, praying, gratitude, writing, exercise, healthy eating, constant sleep, and my daily peach colored pill.
So when the days turn into weeks turn into months of good, light filled moments, do I stop? Do I ease up on the fight? Do I take a day or two off? Do I make up my mind that I am cured and free of the darkness? Do I cease trying to find new tools? Do I let the pill bottle sit untouched in the cabinet? Do I tell my therapist that I am done? I am happy thus no longer depressed.
Because I still have depression.
No matter how I feel that day, I wake with the intent of living with my disease. On the good days. And the bad days. I never stop. I never stop taking my medication. Never stop finding new tools that ease the symptoms. Never stop battling the darkness. Never stop.
For I never know when it will sneak back in.
Because it always does.
Unfortunately, I don’t have the ability to schedule the days I have anxiety. I don’t get to decide what event may trigger my depression. I don’t have the power to magically cure the disease I have.
Mental illness is never convenient.
I was reminded of this yesterday.
I woke to anxiety rising in my chest and restlessness pushing me out of the house. I was caught off guard. More like a slap in the face. Anxiety telling me that it hasn’t gone anywhere. It is still present and a force to be reckoned with. It attempted to take over and take me down.
Yet, it didn’t.
Rather than pushing away the anxiousness, I embraced it. Rather than fighting the disease, I acknowledged that I was feeling this way. Rather than asking why this was happening, I paused enough to identify what I felt and what I needed to do. Not to get rid of it. But to lessen the severity.
Seems ridiculous to me. Yet for a few distressed minutes, I forgot what to do. I forgot how quickly anxiety can take over and take me under. I couldn’t remember how to handle the jittery nervousness. I failed to breathe. To slow the quick moving thoughts. To focus. The uncomfortable and irrational lived for me. Anxiety tried to beat me yesterday.
And that is why I can never stop fighting and treating my mental illness.
The disease is
Depression and anxiety are invisible diseases. Yet, I saw see how it affects me everywhere.
In my voice. In my eyes. In my posture. In my breathing. In my appetite. In my interaction with others. In my parenting. In my hands. In my sleep. In my patience. In my personality. In my healing. In my life.
One of the most difficult elements of depression and anxiety is the unknown. When will the disease show its ugly self to me. What form will it shape into. How intense will it become. Will I have enough strength to get through.
I always anticipate. I always prepare. I always wait.
This is what living with depression with anxiety looks like.
I am able to live and thrive.
I always fight.