As we all know, I am of the anxious variety (side note: don't you love all the ways I have of describing being anxious?). I also have a touch of The Depression (seriously, do you think if I keep describing them in new and exciting ways, they'll stop making me feel so defective?). These two are a combination that guarantee my life is a non-stop thrill ride of shaking hands, having to physically force myself to shower every night, and giving myself pep talks just to get through another day of teaching! Why, oh why, did I think standing in front of a room of apathetic and, quite honestly, mean teenagers and geek out about literature was a wise career move? Seriously, I'm waiting for the day one of them laughs at my love of words and reduces me to tears, because I'm sure it's coming. 

The thing is, none of my... quirks... are new to me. I've always been a bit of a bleeding heart, empathetic to a fault, as quick to cry as I am to laugh. True, I went through this whole "I'm not allowed to cry, because I was raised surrounded by boys and therefore have come to view my own stereotypically feminine traits to be a bad thing" phase, but that mostly just translated into crying in the floor of my closet, regardless of whether or not I fit into said closet, when I was alone. Looking back, this is probably the biggest indication that I was a Sad child, then Sad teenager, who would eventually turn into a Sad adult, but hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes. 

Okay, that got away from me a bit. My point is that I've had this anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. It just manifested itself differently, or I coped better, or I was just so blindly optimistic that I overlooked it. Whatever the case, I've had practically my entire life to get used to all these feelings, and yet they are still just such a bitch to handle. There's nothing quite like fighting a losing battle WITH YOUR OWN MIND to make you realize you're a few eggs short of a dozen. Or whatever that saying is. 

Sometimes, the sadness feels bigger than I am. Sometimes my thoughts are so noisy that I have to shout over them. Every time I think I've got things under control, some other shit hits the fan. There's only so many times I can tell myself that tomorrow will be better before I call myself out for being a big, fat liar. 

But I am trying, so hard that sometimes it's physically painful, that it leaves me exhausted and sore and close to tears. And that's what I'm actually trying to talk about here: not how bad things are right now, but my never-ending desire to get better. My push to stay positive, to believe that the universe has my best interests at heart, to keep putting one foot in front of the other and not look back. Some days are more successful than others, but there's no denying it--I still haven't given up hope. 

I think that's important. I've been dealing with this mental illness nonsense my entire life. I've been tempted to throw in the towel multiple times, to allow my mental illness to cross into the disability territory, to stay in bed everyday because it's just too hard to be an actual, living human being. I've been lucky enough that my worse days are often followed by stupidly good days, but one day that luck may run out, and I may be stuck with just my tenacity and grit and sheer stubborn belief that things must get better. I refuse to believe that my purpose in life to to succumb to all my negative emotions, especially when it's not actually that bad. I'm lucky enough that all my brain powered nonsense isn't debilitating; I can't live like it is. Like I said, I haven't given up hope yet, and I want to celebrate that, in whatever way I can.

So, I made myself eat a damn vegetable last night. I took a shower, even though it felt like a Herculean task. I went to pick up the books I had on hold in the OKC library and interacted with a human and didn't die, even though I kind of thought I would. I called one of my student's parents and talked about their behavior in class. I drank water, which shouldn't be such a monumental accomplishment, but here we are. I did all these, admittedly minor, tasks that felt impossible because I could. Because I knew that I could handle it, that I was strong enough to get it done. And yes, I realize it's slightly hyperbolic to say that I was strong for eating a vegetable and having human interaction, but I am a member of The Most Dramatic Family in the Country, so whatever. Blame it on the genetics or the mental illness. Sometimes I'm convinced they're the same thing anyway. 

It's taken me a long time to appreciate the value of baby steps. Sure, they won't get you where you're going quickly, but you'll get there eventually. So I keep pushing forward, even when my steps are so tiny I feel like I'm making no forward progress. It's all I can do; it's not in my nature to give up, even when things get rough. My body is strong, but my brain is stronger. Even though sometimes it thinks I'm being buried alive when I'm clearly lying in bed in the dark, even though it causes me to think of every worse case scenario, even though it makes me feel like the sky is crumbling down around me. This is the only brain I've got, and it's a good one, despite all its flaws. It allows me to hope, to persevere, to empathize, to feel everything so intensely it sometimes hurts. My brain is how I know I'll be okay. It's what lets me keep on keepin' on.

 

Published by Kylee Jackson