Friendship, Reignited

To those of us who’ve spent the majority of our lives struggling with anxiety and depression, one of the biggest obstacles to overcome is isolation. For me personally, this wasn’t actually an issue until I became a parent, because as someone with very little family, I always felt as though I needed a barrier of friends around me for protection. Fortunate as I was to have found those people when I was younger, I came to find, after entering adulthood, that friendship wasn’t quite what it seemed before.

What was once a crutch for my fear of loneliness, has now become an a burden of sorts, for I cannot seem to get back to being the kind of person who can actually maintain friendships. I was the type of friend that was always there when you needed them, but was also the one who failed to get invitations to parties and such. I’m the person who will tell you what you need to hear, no matter how badly it’s not wanted, and while I’m conscious of it as a flaw, I still tend to categorize it as a strength.

Recently I reconnected with an old friend, someone who’s been through some of the worst moments of my life with me, someone I’ve known for 16 years. There was a time when we were inseparable, never going days let alone years without talking, but we haven’t seen each other in about a year and a half. We’re both nearing our thirties yet we live completely opposite lives – mine revolving around my husband and daughter, and her still being single and living at home with her family. While it’s difficult to relate to her now in some ways, it’s also refreshing to talk to someone with a little bit of outside perspective, because sometimes that’s exactly what we need.

The moment that I basically gave up on everyone in my life was shortly after my daughter was born, nearly no one I’ve ever called a friend has even met her, and I got tired of always hearing the same old line, “Let’s make plans soon!” or “We’ll have to get together soon!”. Eventually you just stop believing it, seeing it for what it really is, a formality to lessen their guilt over not even remotely being there for me in any way at all. I began pushing everyone away, and I can’t honestly say that I regret it very much. It seemed like the mature thing to do, just accept it was all talk, let everyone off the hook, and focus on my daughter, since no one else was interested in being part of her life.

Back to now though, I’m relieved to have someone I can talk to outside of my husband, because while he’s my best friend, sometimes a woman just needs the ear of another woman to feel heard and understood. And let’s be honest, there’s just some things that men don’t want to talk or hear about, and I try not to overburden him with all of my anxieties and stresses, as he’s carrying enough on his shoulder trying to keep food on our plates and a roof over our heads.

This time around, I’m going to try to force myself to stay in touch with her, because at least she knows the true me and has been there through some of the defining moments of my life, good and bad, and doesn’t need explanation for my feelings and thoughts. We have plans for tomorrow and I have to admit, I’m more excited than I’ve been in years. She’s genuinely thrilled to spend time with my daughter, and what could warm a mother’s heart more than an old friend bonding with your child? Right now, it feels priceless.

10 Things the Bipolar Writer is Afraid Of

I thought this would be a great blog post to write. In my social anxiety life, there are things that I use (avoidance behaviors), and I wanted to write what are things that that scare me the most when I leave my house.

10 Things I am Afraid of in This Life

  1. Crowded Places scare me – I hate going to stores or malls because there are people. In my mind, I often think that people are judging me. That somehow they know I am Bipolar. How could they know?
  2. I am afraid of meeting new people –  I have never been good at making friends, although I have made some over the years. I have never been great at being the person that is openly open to meet new people. When I am at my favorite coffee shop, I tend to have my headphones on and drowning out the world.
  3. Dark places give me anxiety – I have not been to a movie theater since I had a terrible panic attack while watching a movie. It’s another place that gives me significant anxiety.
  4. I am afraid of being alone – It’s funny that I mention this because at the same time I revel in the introvert part of me. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have a fear of dying alone. I made a decision long ago to not bring a relationship into all of my issues. I have come so far, but my diagnosis ended my last relationship.
  5. I am afraid of failure – It has kept me from doing things over the years. I almost didn’t go back to college because I feared I would find a way to wreck things.
  6. I am afraid sometimes to drive – It wasn’t always so, but I have had my worst panic attacks behind the wheel of my car.
  7. I am afraid that one day I will go back – My biggest fear is that one day my depression will get me in a bad place I will turn to suicide again. Its highly unlikely but it is always in the back of my mind. When I get that way, I lose control. I never want to feel like this again, but its hard not to fear this truth.
  8. I fear someday my demons will come back – I fought my demons for so many years but they never honestly go away. I have worked out many through therapy, but it’s always a possibility.
  9. I fear being forgotten – This has happened to me before, and it was because I isolated myself from the world. I fear it could happen again and I will be forgotten.
  10. I fear not completing my goals – This is because I am my worst critic. What is worse what could happen if I fail at some point? I don’t deal well with failure in my past.

I hope you enjoyed!

ED382416-A237-4A2C-982F-DE0FE2987133.jpeg

J.E. Skye

 

 

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoAndrew Neel

unsplash-logoPete Pedroza

Fear Heckles Us from the Sideline

While my insights here point to my own personal fight with anxiety, I believe anyone overcoming a sizable obstacle can relate.

At this point I am well beyond the stage where I’m confused about my body’s involuntary reactions to certain situations. The heavy chest, hard-to-breathe, head tingling, inability to concentrate, and tunnel vision feeling is hardly new. I’ve got years under my belt with this; therefore, I have developed coping and avoidance techniques to help me get by. Albeit, not always the healthiest choices. What happens after we finally jump over the obstacles in front of us is unknown to me. The unknown is something I am not very comfortable with.

I have put in a lot of muscle to appear normal and cheerful to the outside world, and it works. Any time I tell someone I suffer from social anxiety they say “Really? I had no idea.” That is a mark in the win category for me – or so I tell myself. My mask continues to conceal my true identity. I’m kind of a superhero (or villain) in that way. I’m not really sure which, or even if they are interchangeable.

There other side to overcoming these obstacles is what I am fighting for. When I overcome it, there will be new expectations that others put on me and I put on myself. I’m not sure what this looks like, but I have been thinking about it a lot lately.  I have lived with this for my entire life, and it has become deeply rooted in me and my personality. I’m not sure what I look like without it. What would replace it? Or perhaps there would just be this empty hole that used to be filled with anxiety, irrational thoughts, and nerves. I have a hard time believing that it will vanish, even if it is slow to dissolve. Something must take its place.

One-day fear will no longer hold me back: I will be able to move forward without questioning things to a pulp and gauging its trigger effect. On the other hand, others will hold me more accountable and some things I don’t enjoy doing won’t be so easily side-stepped. Half of my consciousness says I’m doing this to free myself from the tangles of fear and to open doors I never thought possible. Though the reality is I would also be free to do things I don’t enjoy. I believe that the fear of progress is preventing me from moving forward more quickly. Though I know this is not a race and the finish line is a rather gray area, I can’t help but to think I should be moving faster.

If it’s possible to overcome this hurdle, I’m trying to get a good picture of what the other side looks like. To anyone who has suffered from mental health, an addiction (yes to cigarettes and sugar too, so easily brushed aside by many non-sufferers), or an unhealthy attachment to another person, the other side can be terrifying. Even if in our hearts we know that the other side must be a better and safer place. Even when we spend time and energy to overcome obstacles, fear continues to heckle us from the sideline.

The True Dangers of Depression and Anxiety

When you think about depression and anxiety, and the dangers it’s victims face; you probably think of suicide. In fact, most people that have never been around, or dealt with depression and anxiety will probably think that suicide is the only danger of these mental illnesses. The fact that some people think suicide is so scary really pisses me off. When you live life with depression and anxiety, sometimes, the last thing you are scared of is dying.

 

You’re scared that you might say the wrong thing, so you just say nothing at all. You spend all this time in your head, running through conversations that haven’t even happened. Just so that you can say the right things. So that you won’t upset, or anger someone. So that they don’t think you’re weird or stupid. All of this running through your head, while you just sit there quietly, unable to make a sound.

 

You’re scared that your friends are just hanging out with you out of pity, or for a laugh (at you, not with you). So much so that you just lay in bed, make excuses as to why you can’t make it.

 

You’re scared that your hopes and dreams are too lofty. That you’re not good enough to want these things. That you’ll never be good enough to achieve what your heart truly desires.

 

You’re scared that you’re not good-looking enough, not smart enough, not rich enough. That you’ll never find someone who loves you for who you are. You desperately try to be someone you’re not, in the hopes that someone else will approve of you.

 

You’re scared that no one likes you, that they all just “deal” with you because they have to. That person is always talking badly about you behind your back. And why not? there is nothing good about you anyways.

 

You’re scared that if you give it your all, and still fail than you’re worthless. So you just find comfort in not trying at all.

 

You’re scared that if you had just done something different, that maybe, your past wouldn’t be like it is. You constantly think about would have, could have and should have. That there were so many ways that could have had a better outcome.

 

You’re scared that the love your family feels for you isn’t real. That it is only because they have to feel love, that they do. You’re scared that no one will ever love you, that there’s nothing to love about you

 

You’re scared that everyone and anyone you meet will judge you. Based on your looks, your clothes, how you talk, how you walk, anything they can, because there isn’t anything good about you.

 

You’re scared of doing something wrong, so you just don’t do anything. You lay in bed, just thinking about everything that needs to get done, and that none of it is.

 

You’re scared that if there is a God, why would God make you this way. Why would God make you defective in every way imaginable?

 

The truth is, is that it’s not you who is scared. It’s me that is scared. The truth is, is that depression and anxiety are so much more dangerous that you can imagine. The truth is, I am not afraid of dying. The truth is, I am afraid of living.