Meet my friend, Anxiety. He doesn’t like me having other friends.

I’m sorry I cancelled last minute.

When I accepted the invite earlier this week I was feeling great. I was so excited. I was comfortable, and my anxiety was well contained.

When I woke up this morning I panicked.

I have nothing to wear. Will they be able to tell I’ve gained weight? What if I slip up and say something weird and make a total jackass of myself? I just can’t handle “uncomfortable” today. I need certainty. I need to stay safe today. I need my pajamas, and my tea, and my Netflix, and my locked door that keeps me safe inside from all the people.

The warm pressure rising from my gut all the way up my neck is making it hard to breathe. Just thinking about being in a crowd of people tonight makes me cringe. My fear is on high alert. Except what am I fearing? I have no idea. Seriously, I don’t know—but it is true fear.

I have to cancel, but if I tell you the real reason you’ll scoff at me. So what can I say? Hmmmm. Sick? No. Tired? Maybe. Plans got miscommunicated with husband and he already had plans. Yes. That’s perfect! Some might say I’m a pathological liar. I claim self-preservation techniques.

Please don’t be disappointed. Next time, I promise—because next time seems so far away and manageable.

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I’m sorry I never answered your phone call.

I tried to answer for the whole 20 seconds it rang. Instead I just stared at your name flashing on the screen of the phone, a million thoughts rushing through my mind.

What could you possibly want from me? If you’re trying to make plans I’m going to say yes, but I can’t promise I’ll actually show up.

If you need something from me I’ll be terrified to tell you ‘no,’ even though I’m barely taking care of myself at the moment.

Are you just wanting a conversation? Oh dear, can I formulate sentences that even make sense right now?

What if you ask me how I’m doing? I’ll be forced to lie and say ‘Great!’ Even though I’m still trying to calm myself from hearing my phone ring. I don’t like the lies. Even my lies make me uncomfortable, so I’ll just ignore you instead. If you need something important you’ll text me. I can take time to organize my thoughts if we text.

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I’m sorry I had to leave your party early. When I showed up I was so excited to see you and everyone else. Congratulations on your engagement, by the way. I’m so happy for you.

It’s just that, well—I wasn’t prepared for quite so many people. I had mentally prepared myself for your family, I had forgotten his family and friends would be there. Making small talk is so hard for me—especially with strangers.

There were so many people, as the crowd began to thicken I could feel that familiar warm pressure beginning to rise from my gut to my neck. Mouth dry, sweaty hands, and I was having a hard time catching my breath.

The more conversations I had to participate in the more my thoughts raced. Trying to hear them over my own thoughts  grew more challenging by the minute.

I had to get out of there.

I couldn’t handle one more question where I had to talk about myself. I hate talking about myself. I couldn’t analyze one more stare from another person—do they think I’m a pretty cool person or am I boring them to death. Do they secretly know every mistake I’ve made in life? They’re judging me, I know it.

I’m sorry I missed such a momentous occasion in your life. Again, congratulations!

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I look around the room and I’m so content being alone. I can feel my shoulders untightening the longer I sit here.

I sip my warm tea, curl my legs up, and find a good series on Netflix. I can shut my mind off now. I can let my anxiety cool off to a low simmer. No questions for me. No demands of me. No smiling for me.

The doorbell rings…

For the LOVE—call before you come over.

I’ll pretend I’m not home.

The lights and TV are on.

Shit.

(Opens door.)

HEY! What an awesome surprise!! The house is a mess, but come on in… let chat! It’s so good to see you….

Depression Sucks.

I don’t want to talk.

I need rest.

I need silence.

The thoughts in my mind are overwhelming. They won’t stop. My life is a constant battle of outside voices competing with internal thoughts. It’s too much.

I don’t know how, but I need rest.

I’m lonely, but I can’t silence the storm of thoughts in my mind when another voice is in my ear; so I shut everyone out and feel relieved when they finally walk away.

I don’t mean to hurt feelings, but I need silence.

I don’t want anyone around because the tension that radiates from their discomfort with silence is even worse than being forced to talk.

I know they mean well, but I need rest.

I don’t need to lay down in the sense that it’s been a long day. I need to disappear for a while in the sense that it could be fatal if I don’t.

I need silence.

I need rest.

I don’t want to cater to your emotional demands at this time. If there’s ever been a time I need to be selfish it is right now. I cannot heal if I’m constantly juggling how my illnesses are affecting you.

I need someone who doesn’t take control.

I need someone who listens without reacting.

I need someone who is comfortable to sit in silence, because I’m going to stay quiet for a long time. It would be nice to have a presence with me, but it will take a very special soul to keep me at ease.

I need someone who will let me be me. The broken, doubting, overwhelmed, depressed, sometimes angry me. I need someone strong enough to let go of the control that causes them to tell me I’m great and perfect and wrong to believe I’m anything less than magnificent. I need someone that will let me be me in my worst form, because that is the foundation of my healing.

Once I feel safe to step outside the numbest areas of my conscious, I will start processing my overwhelming thoughts one by one. I will keep what is good, and evict what is bad. I cannot be led in this process, and I cannot answer the questions that may arise. You must allow me to lead, and at my own pace. These thoughts will be ugly, and terrifying, and disturbing, and as close to demonic as one will ever get without actually stepping foot through the gates of Hell. I need someone who can listen without reacting, because the second you react is the instantaneous moment I will no longer consider you safe.

I know I’ve hurt your feelings, and for that I am sorry. I know you’ve meant well by the band-aids you’ve offered, but the infection is just too deep to be covered. I know you want to walk this road for me, but I must go it alone. I only need to know that if I get scared I can scream and you will hear me. I need reassurance that I will make it–not how I will make it–but that you’re confident I will find a way. My own way.

 

Love.

What mental health victims wish you knew.

They tell you to get up, don’t they? They storm into your room and throw open the curtains. They rip your blankets back and tell you it’s time to quit feeling sorry for yourself. So, like always, you tuck your tail and you rise up out of bed… secretly resenting their presence.

It’s mind over matter, right? If you just get up and get moving you will feel better. As if your mental illness is a fleeting virus.

They tell you that your kids and your family need you. And then they unknowingly shame you for all the ways you aren’t fulfilling your roles in life–and so you begin shutting down even more. Not only are you battling the terrible thoughts in your mind, now you’re battling the guilt of never being good enough. .

But they can’t see. They can’t comprehend your world.

And so you hide.

They tell you all the ways your mental illness affects them, don’t they? Oh, they always do. Always an unconscious jab that you’re causing them stress.

If they could only peek inside your mind for a brief moment… just a split second of your thoughts–then they would realize their own worries live amongst unicorns and rainbows. If they saw inside your mind they would understand you’ve seen a world that would melt their worst nightmares.

You feel some weird and twisted need to comfort them, and so you do just enough to present an acceptable image. This allows you to avoid the shame. But in the quiet moments alone you close your curtains and crawl into bed and you sob. You sob for your family and the pain you cause. You sob for your children and all the ways you aren’t showing up for them. You sob because you have to smile tomorrow and you just don’t have the strength–

but you smile anyway, because it keeps them comfortable.

You laid in your bed today and for one fleeting moment you wished you had some form of cancer. Victims of cancer are viewed as brave, and heroic, and praised for the strength it takes to fight for their life. They’re truly warriors.

According to society they are truly sick. They’re allowed to be bedridden for weeks when their energy is depleted.  Cancer patients don’t have individuals throwing the covers off of them and demanding they stand and face the day. They aren’t told that if they would just move around their illness will cure itself.

Cancer patients are allowed to be sick; and it’s understood they will need rest and time to regain their strength.

But you aren’t a cancer patient. And your illnesses makes them uncomfortable.

You’re highly sensitive and intuitive mind allows you to feel the sudden shift of emotion when you try to talk openly about the sickness in your brain. They stare down, don’t they? They always stare down. They get tense and quiet and refuse to look you in the eye until the subject is changed.

The world has taught them to feel uncomfortable–it’s not their fault. It’s not your fault either.

But you slink back into silence–because that’s the easiest option for everyone involved.

You wait for your own form of remission, and you practice your smile. You hide the illnesses that you know will return. They always return, don’t they? This time you will keep it a secret, because maybe then they won’t force you out of bed.

You take your medication, and hide the amount of pills it takes to keep your sanity.

You bless the day and hope for strength, and remind yourself that you can do hard things.

You’ve faced hotter fires than this, and you always come out alive and stronger than before.

You do it alone because it’s easier that way. You do it alone because only you are strong enough to patiently endure the fire long enough to heal. It shouldn’t be that way.

But it has made you a warrior, and you can handle a little heat.
“Won’t you look down upon me, Jesus? You gotta help me make a stand–You just got to see me through another day. ‘Cause my body’s achin’ and my time is at hand. I won’t make it any other way.
I’ve seen fire and I’ve seen rain. I’ve seen sunny days that I thought would never end. I’ve seen lonely times that I could not find a friend…”
 -James Taylor

LOVE. ❤

To the men who love complicated women. I see you.

I’ve read so many blogs on how to love a complicated woman, how to love a traumatized woman, how to love a woman with a guarded heart. With each of those blogs I threw up my praise hands and screamed, “I’m not alone!” Then I immediately shared those blogs to my husband in private messages hoping he could gain some insight into my complicated-ness. He normally responded with, “Wow… so that’s why you were reading/crying /sobbing earlier… I get it, it’s spot-on. That’s you, boo.”

That’s not what this blog is about though.

I’m writing for the men who love complicated/traumatized/guarded women.

I see you.

You think you’re flying under the radar and noone notices, but I do… atleast now I do.

It’s not been an easy road for you, has it? Your efforts go unnoticed by your wife. She is too wrapped up inside her own mind to see that you actually are trying to not only hold her together, but hold yourself together. The people around you are focusing so intently on her emotional well-being and mental state that your presence seems to stand back in the shadows.

I see you though. I see you standing there, on guard–protecting her.

I know there are days you want to give up. I know there are times you want to lash out and scream at the top of your lungs that you can’t self-sacrifice any longer. Something has to give, right? You can’t single-handedly keep your family afloat while you work tireless hours and come home to a wife laying in bed with dishes and laundry piling up. This isn’t what you signed up for, is it? You want to run away–that would be so much easier. You want to give up, but you don’t. The warrior in you stays to battle.

I see you fighting. I do.

In sickness or in health is what you vowed. Even though your wife can’t wrap her mind around that vow, you do. When you want to leave, you remember your promise to support her through anything–even though this anything is not the sickness you imagined. You vowed before God and family that you would stay by her side through any challenge, and so you hold on. You cling to the hope that one day she will again be the woman who stood at that altar with you. Sometimes you get fleeting glimpses into her eyes and you see that girl is still in there. She is trapped and chained, but she’s there. And so you stay. Confused and weak and defeated, you stay. Unable to break the chains that bind her; but you stay because you have faith she will one day free herself.

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I see you. I see you staying even though you wish like hell you were far away from the mess she’s created.

She pushes you away. No matter how hard you try to show your love, she shoves your attempts back in your face. She’s unreachable. You begin to doubt your worth as her partner. No matter what you do, you aren’t good enough–you can’t love her how she needs to be loved. She makes it a point to ensure you understand that fact. You want to give up, and at times that seems the most reasonable alternative. But you don’t. You keep trying to show love the best you can.

I see you. And even though no one else sees the demons you are slaying, I see your sword drawn and ready for combat. You may be holding that sword in a wobbly hand at times, but you are making progress.

You can’t see this, but I do.

Slow and steady wins the battle.

You’re lonely. For a husband who fights so hard to provide, protect, show love and support… it seems reasonable that you should have a loving home that embraces your efforts. Except you don’t. You come home to bitterness and resentment. You come home to feelings of heaviness and tension, because her mood is unpredictable. There’s a chance you might have an enjoyable night together (and you pray hard for that every day), but there’s an even bigger chance she’s too pissed off to even sleep in the same bed with you. And so you make your way to the couch… again.

I see you. I see you continuing to come home anyway.

Keep coming home. Keep protecting her. Keep carrying the weight and picking up the slack. Keep believing in your vows even when she doesn’t. Keep showing your love no matter how hard she tries to convince you it’s not enough. Keep fighting. Keep slaying her demons. She cannot help her reactions. She cannot help the way she makes you feel. She wants to. Lord, does she want to; and if she could, she would fight right by your side. Every time she screams at you her heart tries to remind her of your goodness– but the demons in her mind always win. She’s too weak. That’s why you must continue to carry your sword and fight for her. Fight for your marriage. Against all odds, you must remain the strong one. The true warrior.

The world will tell you that you don’t deserve this treatment, and to walk away–go find happiness. I mostly agree; but if you love her,  keep showing up. She needs you more than she will ever know. Keep being her warrior that stands in the shadows and fights when she doesn’t even realize she’s losing.

Because one day, after the rehabilitation and therapy and medication begin working together, there will be healing. And one fine day, you’re gonna look into those eyes and see the girl who whole-heartedly meant every vow she made at that altar with you. One day, the mother of your children is going to reappear out of nowhere and begin taking over the extra roles you’ve been playing. Life will pick up right where it left off.

I know, your efforts will probably go unnoticed. But I see you.

Please know that I realize what you’ve done, what you’ve fought through. It’s amazing you came out alive.

The world will rejoice for her healing, and again you will stand in the shadows, but you won’t call out for recognition. True warriors rarely do. Instead,  you will be rewarded by being excited to come home. You will be rewarded by seeing the true woman you married stand before you.

You will stare in awe when you see her laughing and playing with your children. When she notices your stares she will question them. And you will respond, “I just love seeing you so happy.”

One day she’s going to realize you kept the vows you said together. Against all odds, you fought for her. Even when she couldn’t fight for herself, you protected her. When she couldn’t keep a vow to save her life–you showed up to keep those vows sacred for her. You may feel too defeated to realize the warrior within yourself–but you are absolutely her knight in shining armor. If you keep fighting, one day she will tell you that herself. And she will be unable to ever show her true gratitude.

And then you will wait. Because although you won the battle, the war of her mind isn’t over. You will take in every good time over the next couple years. But you’re no longer a rookie to the game of mental illness. You know those demons will return. The medication will quit being effective. The therapy will have paused.

But you will still be there. Sword drawn. Ready to fight. Ready to battle all over again when she falls to her knees and forgets who she is.

You will be there.

I see you.

I see you and how you just keep showing up.

(For Daniel. My Knight. My warrior. My safe place to land. I love you… I see you.)

LOVE.