The Battle That Never Ends: Anxiety and Depression At The Roots

Since I was probably 3 or 4, I can remember suffering from anxiety and depression. I can pin point bits and pieces as to what childhood events lead me to these mental illnesses, but it’s been so long ago that sometimes I question the details of who did what to me and when. I know the what, but at this point I battle with the who. I battle with the why too. As a kid I had a rowdy side. I wanted to climb trees and swim in dirty ponds and rough house. Then after I wanted to play barbies and make up stories about fighting crime or reenact Big Brother. I was a child with multiple interests that sometimes clashed, but the rowdy side of me seemed to be frowned upon. No one could understand why I wanted to pretend I was running away from home to sail away on some grand adventure, wasn’t the life I had enough? No one could understand why I wanted to learn to cook, compete in sports, learn how to do this and that. All of it was just “not me.” I was to keep only the sweet side of me, the goodie goodie kid everyone saw in church. Really, I was not a good kid. I got in trouble a lot for not listening, being annoying, asking for things too many times, and lying. The ”pink chair” was and still is a reasonable punishment for any child. What I feared more than anything, however, was the yelling.

I got yelled at quite a bit, and sometimes for petty things like just having a different opinion. I got yelled at from a few different people in my days as a kid, and all it ever taught me was that if I just nod and go along, I can avoid every form of confrontation. I can avoid people being mad at me. I can avoid the shame and guilt of wanting to learn new things and go on new adventures and maybe even be a little reckless about it. Just lay low. Dance around the truth. Hint at the truth gently, maybe they’ll pick up the fact that I don’t want to do THIS anymore, I want to do THAT. Or, maybe they’ll just go on believing the lie I told them to avoid getting chewed out. Maybe they’ll be happy.

Even my lies couldn't keep the yelling at bay. I’d always manage to not fold the clothes right way, lose something important, like the wrong thing or listen to the wrong decade of music. I can’t tell you how many times I longed to tell certain members of my family about my dreams and goals but never could because I remembered earlier they were dogging that very thing. I kept it to people I thought I could trust at church, and sometimes they actually listened and told me that with God, all things are possible and encouraged me to pray about where God wants me to go.

The scars that I got back then from what I believe was unintentional, just adults blowing off steam in the wrong direction, ultimately became the cause of my mental issues. Today in therapy I learned that really, I just want to belong. I want to feel like my failures and ever changing interests are not the cause of someone else‘s grief. Instead of yelling at me, I want you to calmly explain it and be aware that some people take longer to understand things. I want you to be aware that I daydream a lot, so nothing against you, but I may have accidentally slipped back into the dream world, so I’ll nod my head and say “Mmhmm” to keep from sounding rude or disinterested. I’m not the only one. To make a good impression, you will first be introduced to the more exaggerated version of myself. I like to call this the entertainer version. It impresses people that I can be this upbeat about such simple things, so they’re drawn in. Once I trust you, that exaggerated version of myself will only come out when I’m actually feeling it. When I’m worshiping God or feeling hyped up or really excited about starting something new, or being surrounded by things I love like candles and books and food and good movies. You’ll see a more somber version of me appear, and it’s not because I’m upset, it’s because I’m calm. I’m not the only one.

I don’t know how I got off on that tangent, but shoot. I felt it, so I said it. That’s progress.

Anyway, even as I’m writing this there are a few things I’m being very vague about on purpose. I’m not dropping names, secret goals, dreams, none of that. I have dreams and goals that nobody Knows about because I want to know if they are for real or if they are just there cause I heard/saw so and so do it and I’m inching to do it myself because deep down I know that I’d actually be good at it with practice. I am easily inspired, which is both a blessing and a curse. I’m not alone in this either. None of us want to make fools of ourselves before we even try the thing we are thinking about trying. But I’m going to start working on that one. Oddly enough it’s probably gonna be the hardest thing, cause I don’t want to hear “you’re not gonna try THAT, are you?” or “you probably shouldn’t try that” “what if you don’t like it?” Well... yeah I wanted to, but now I’ll just laugh and nod along. I see no harm in declaring that you’d really like to do something, even if down the line the fascination goes away. I don’t think every little interest is meant to last forever. some stick, some don’t. It’s just seasons.

Again, another tangent. Man, I love to write. That’s one of the things that’s probably gonna stay with me for a while, but I have this weird love hate relationship with it that I’ll get into in another blog.

The point is, I did not want to admit this, but today I finally admitted that all this yelling and put down I got from so many people as a kid messed me up, and all I ever wanted was to please them and make people happy just for the sake of guarding my own heart. Now as an adult, if I have any sort of good regard to you, we will probably never fight. I will never tell you if what you’re saying to me is too much. I will never disagree with you unless I feel like it’s something silly, like Loki being cooler than Thor.

If I want to knock out depression and anxiety I gotta get that fear of making people disappointed in me out of the picture. If I know God is proud of me, I want that to be enough.

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