This week has been exhausting for no particular reason. I haven’t been feeling creative or motivated or anything other than anxious, irritable, and sad. In lieu of a Friday Fixation here’s my contribution the hash tag going around the Twitterverse, #TheWorstPartofDepressionIs. For me, I’m less depressed, more anxious but I think this is a good opportunity to air some much needed grievances for all types of mental illnesses because stigma sucks. So here is my list of worst things:
- The Psychical Exhaustion
I. Cannot. Stop. When my anxiety is at its peak my body wants nothing more than to sit and relax but I psychically can’t do it. I can’t just ‘be.’ I have to do something at all times or else my mind will implode. It’s not that I’m psychically active all the time but I carry my tension throughout the day when I am frantically grocery shopping or walking my dog or going to work or watching tv/surfing online/writing/worrying about not writing…I am always trying to distract myself.
My shoulders are in knots and my back is always sore. I am relatively quick to fall asleep most of the time which is a total gift but when I sleep I toss and turn violently and I grind my teeth, I wake up feeling more tense and with jaw pain all the time. So when I have weeks like this when I can’t live up to my impossible productivity standards I crash and subsequently beat myself up about it and repeat the cycle.
- Social Interaction
When I was a kid I was relatively good at making friends but Elementary school social graces are where I feel like I left off. I kept a few close friends throughout school even up until college but during that entire seventeen year span of school I had a really difficult time reaching out beyond the few people I managed to stay close with. This worked fine for me until college where I did not choose to dorm, I said it was to save money but really I think I was just scared, and ended up isolating myself a lot more until I moved to NY and solidified my friend-less existence. I’m lucky to have found a wonderful supportive girlfriend but I can’t help but look around and see other people interacting on the weekends and wonder how it is so easy for everyone else. For many, college represents a time of parties and rich social lives, for me it mostly brings back memories of sitting alone in my car in the parking lot reading or sitting alone in the quiet section of the library reading or sitting alone in my room reading and sometimes crying.
Sure, now after a couple of years in the city I have a few people I might be able to call up but friendships are so wrought with self-doubt and worry for me that most of the time I can’t bring myself to ask someone to hang out. I’m an introvert and most of the time I’m fine being by myself but it pains me to have even mundane social interactions. When I see my friendly neighbor on my way back from the store I usually try to cross the street but if I can’t avoid the eye contact I force a muffled “Hello” and the action immediately fills me with a sick, burning embarrassment. Even when I have the buffer of my dog and someone compliments her or asks to pet her I’m at a loss “Yeah…she’s um…she needs to pee.” as I smile weakly and pull her away. Inevitably this makes me seem like a bitch to a lot of people and that’s probably the worst part.
- The ‘Getting Help’ Part
I’m so grateful for my psychologist and the fact that I was able to connect with her and didn’t have to flip flop around trying different doctors but the initial process was hell for me. I hate calling people on the phone, I hate calling and asking for something, and I especially hate saying out loud that I have anxiety to a random stranger whom I cannot even see.
Not only was the finding a provider part stressful but the fact that my insurance (which I will not even have in a few months after I turn 26) only covers a certain number of mental health visits. Many plans don’t cover psychologists or psychiatrists at all and if they do many times the doctors are crappy pill-pushers who spend a total of 10 seconds “evaluating” before slapping a script in your hand. Everything about healthcare is unnecessarily complicated and bureaucratic and for someone struggling with mental illness the act of dealing with bills and paperwork can even make things worse.
I’m looking forward to wading through all the misery on Twitter today and feeling an inkling of warmth from our community. Keep on, keepin’ on people, most of the time it’s difficult, but it’s all we can really do.