For the past eight years I’ve lived with a combination of depression and anxiety. One of the most dreaded questions I get asked is the simple, “What have you been up to?” Such a simple question to answer right? “Oh, I went to that male stripper movie where Channing Tatum grinds around half naked.” Not so simple when you have depression or anxiety.
If either, or both, of those disorders are severe enough you may find yourself spending a lot of time close to home and a lot less time with your loved ones. Suddenly a simple question like “What have you been doing?” becomes daunting and embarrassing. What do I say? Nothing? That my ugly-crying could rival that of Kim Kardashian’s? That I found myself curled up on my bed, frozen in fear for no discernible reason? While they may be true, none of these answers comfortably roll off the tongue while talking to people you may not be that close with.
So what do I do? Lie? Nope. Can’t do it. Not even a little bit. It is my blessing and it is my curse. So instead I just give a half-hearted “Oh, nothing really” or make a joke about how I have no life. I feel like I almost give people a reason to look down on me. But slowly I’ve realized that I’m doing far from nothing.
The thing about mental disorders is that sometimes the hugest steps are invisible to others. So whilst I may still be trying to find the right way to answer that pesky question for other people, I know how to answer it for myself. I laid in my bed without getting a shower first. I walked to the library a couple of days after the shooting in Colorado, even with the fear and anxiety in my heart. I called someone on the phone for the first time since January. I shared my illness with someone I care about.
So, what have I been doing? Fighting a battle every day. Learning. Growing. Falling. Getting back up. Keeping hope alive. A lot. I’ve been doing a lot, actually.
By Kristen Wagner
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