Hope can be one of the best and worst things for my anxiety. I used to think that clinging onto it was the only way to surmount the rising pressure of my symptoms. But over time, I started to see how detrimental it could be to always feel like I need to go to a place of optimism and high expectations. As negative as it may sound, that mentality actually sets me up for failure against the daily battle with my mental illness.
I’ve been living as someone with, what I would like to call, “high-functioning anxiety” for over 20 years now. I like to explain it that way because my diagnosis of Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression just doesn’t have the same fancy ring to it, now does it? I have my triggers, I see the patterns forming and warning signs arising – yet, I still try my best to carry on as though I don’t have this disease. And why? Because society tells me that I’m meant to be strong and that everything will be okay. We’re given a constant stream of cookie-cutter advice in order to circumvent any possible suffering. But what if we’re meant to hurt a little? What if we’re just not meant to be okay sometimes?
I’ve learned a lot from my mental illness, especially during the worst parts of it. Now, I’m not glorifying this disease, because it has and will continue to claim and ruin lives on a daily basis. But, I do want people to stop blowing sunshine and rainbows up everyone’s asses all of the time. Having anxiety sucks, but it’s also one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given. The insights I’ve been able to obtain, into the deepest darkest dustiest places of myself, have been worth any of the pain I’ve endured so far.
Yung Pueblo once said, “Before I could release the weight of my sadness and pain, I first had to honour its existence.” And the acknowledgement of all of the parts that hurt you is necessary. So, no I won’t cover it up with the proverbial bandage of okayness. Because there’s no lesson there, and yet there’s always a lesson in the suffering – whether you can see it at the time or not. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t enjoy the pain or suffering, I just refuse to deny it. I welcome it in when it shows up, so that I can take what I need from it and then release it, in order to move forward.
So, that idea of just having hope all of the time… Well, let me tell you, hope can really suck sometimes. The picture in your brain of how things are supposed to be, couldn’t be farther from the truth. When you layer a bout of anxiety onto that scenario, what you get can feel catastrophic to the person right in the thick of it. So, don’t tell me that everything is going to be okay, cause sometimes it’s just not. And guess what? That’s okay.