AMY'S STORY: DEPRESSION, ANXIETY, AND LIFE'S BEAUTIFUL MOMENTS
The air is thick with panic though the sun shines brightly outside. Her stomach twists into tiny knots and she gasps to catch her breath, balling her fists onto the perfectly teal couch she bought to remember. Every day, she strives to remember. She remembers that she’s safe, that he’s in prison and wants her to be happy. She remembers that she’s loved, that she has friends all over the world and has accomplished every goal she’s set her mind too. Yet the panic remains.
So out, out, out she goes, saying goodbye to her guardians, the cats who share her apartment and life with her. She slips into a bulky sweater and her waiting green Honda Accord and presses the ancient technology of a CD into motion. Then she takes the road past her first job at the DQ, past the church where everyone knew her and no one understood her, past the bus stop of private Christian school and depression, and drives in the beautiful daylight. The sun kisses the grass and every blade is verdant, alive in the glory of light. Then come the trees, the ferns and moss which make up the beautiful coastal range.
At the casino, she makes a turn and starts winding north through forgotten farms hanging on the edge of forests. She crosses four one-way bridges, following the river to gain the shore, the ocean. The rock stands out like a pile of hay as soon as the cows come into view. Haystack rock and peace. And the panic, like the river, slips into the ocean.
I live with clinical depression and PTSD. This is what I did last week to keep myself alive.
People ask me how I got this way. Part of it is genetics, part of it was life. I find it far more interesting how this illness forces me to live. I push and pull and run away from it, yet somehow in the running, I find myself in the middle of beautiful moments. Last week, it was being at Haystack Rock. This week, it was forcing myself to go out on a date, to exercise and clean my house. These ordinary little moments that make up mundane existence are my triumphs.
I cannot control my mood always. I am prone to fly off the handle, especially at people whom I love dearly. I still haven’t mastered the art of dating or a “normal” relationship, and my family knows I am a difficult woman. But I am choosing to live. To me, that makes me strong, stronger than this illness that threatens my life and peace.
I am out because I want to live in a world where strength and beauty are defined by how we live and treat one another. I have been learning this means how I treat myself matters too. When I talk about it, write about it, people tell me, “Me too. I have depression. I have struggled with crippling anxiety. I am lonely.” You live long enough and love anything, you get scars, and sometimes, they ache. But that doesn’t mean you stop loving or living. It just means you get to choose to be brave.
Those who choose life repeatedly are not weak. They’re the builders, dreamers, lovers, and founders of a more beautiful world. You are not weak. You are brave.
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