Staying true to myself one bad day at a time

“My aim is to put down on paper what I see and what I feel in the simplest way.” – Ernest Hemingway

What a beautiful sentiment. These words have resonated so deeply with me since I first came across them. The Old Man and the Sea was one of my favorite books in high school and I’ve always admired Hemingway for his writing, so when I came across this quote of his, I vibed with it.

While this was written decades ago, I see it ringing true here and now in 2018. Our country is in chaos, the president of the U.S. is the laughing stock of the world and the headlines in news get worse each day so intensely that we’ve become desensitized to horrific violence happening all over our world.

But, back to the quote above.

About a year or so ago, I told myself I would be honest about my feelings and not hide in my hurting anymore. Today, I don’t feel like donning my typical wide-mouthed smile. And that is OKAY. Am I moping around like Eeyore? No. But am I hiding behind a smile and saying “fine” or “good” when people ask how I’m doing? Also no.

Life is hard. It’s hard for everyone in different ways and on different days. On a hard day, the easy way out is to simply grin and bear it and hope for a new day tomorrow. Well – not today, junior!

Y’all know I struggle with anxiety and depression. I’m not shy about admitting it. But, it’s still hard on days when I’m down and don’t want to get up. My typical response is to laugh it off, act extra happy and hope I can convince myself that I truly am.

Well, here’s how I’m feeling today:

  • tired
  • lost
  • in pain

I woke up on Monday with back pain that I haven’t experienced since my surgery (for those of you who don’t know, I had back surgery Dec 2015 on two herniated discs at the bottom of my spine). While my pain level isn’t anywhere near what it was pre-surgery, it still sucks. I haven’t been sleeping very well this week because of the pain and the anxiety this pain is causing.

Broken. Let down. Failure.

That’s how I feel. I’m 25 years old – why the hell am I dealing with 65 year-old health issues?! I get stuck on that question a lot, “why?” or “why me?” But, this isn’t healthy thinking.

Healthy thinking is believing in yourself. It’s staying on task so you feel accomplished checking off your to-do list. It’s working on your full self: mind, body and spirit. So today, I’m letting myself hurt. I’m accepting the back pain I’m dealing with today and challenging myself for a better tomorrow.

I know this blog isn’t quite as strong or captivating as my others, but this is for me. I’m writing down here and now that I am working on myself, for myself, by myself and won’t stop until I feel like I’ve reached the top of this mountain.

                        xoxo,

HB

 

Please don’t ignore my ‘invisible’ illness

Hi, I’m Hannah, and I’m not your “typical” person living with anxiety and depression, according to society’s standards anyway.

When I was younger, I didn’t know much about mental illnesses, albeit my dad is a clinical psychologist. Throwing around phrases such as “they’re crazy!”, “omg you’re so insane”, or “just get out of bed already!” without knowing how hurtful or unproductive certain words can be to someone. Fast forward through an average childhood, awkward adolescence, a couple painful teenage years and a crazy college experience and here I am – a 24-year-old with a good job, fabulously decorated apartment, adorable rescue pup, loving boyfriend, supportive family and the very best friends a girl could hope for. Sounds like a perfect life, am I right?

Wrong.

More often than not, I struggle getting myself up in the morning. Some nights I hardly sleep at all due to my anxiety; I worry if it’s too quiet, I worry if it’s too noisy. I’m afraid someone is going to break into my apartment and hurt me or my dog. The couch becomes my bed half the time because that’s where my TV is and I have a clear view of the front door, you know, in case anyone tries to break in.

Other nights I fall asleep after dinner and don’t get up until the following morning. Joking about always being late and walking into the office, Starbucks in hand, I play it off as if nothing is wrong and I’m just one of those “late people”. In reality, I’m anxious. Did my boss see me? Are my coworkers whispering about me, calling me a slacker because I’m always late? I wish more than anything I could get up when my first alarm goes off instead of lying there pressing snooze for two hours. On days where my depression seems to be having a party in my brain, telling me I’m not good enough and my job isn’t worth it and I should just hide in bed all day, I finally make it to the office – sans makeup and a semi-decent outfit on.

Living with anxiety and depression can be debilitating. Trust me, I still have my days every now and then where I give into the little voice in my head telling me to stay in bed and hide from the world. However, most of the time I come across as a free-spirited, happy and successful twenty-something. This is where the dilemma lies: a thoroughly optimistic, naturally loquacious, blonde-haired blue-eyed privileged white girl walking around as if she’s got her shit together, when in reality her mind is constantly racing and it feels like there’s a raincloud right above her head.

But, this does not make my mental illnesses any less important or easier to deal with than those whose symptoms aren’t quite as camouflaged. Just because six out of seven days of the week I seem all right, doesn’t mean I really am. On days where I am more quiet at work and wear my oversized headphones that scream “leave me alone!”, I’m not mad or annoyed. I may not even be working that hard. I just need my space because it’s one of those days where dealing with myself is already too much effort and there’s no room for putting on a smile and asking how my coworker’s dinner was the night before.

The more we talk about mental illnesses in general, especially ones that are “invisible” 99 percent of the time, the easier it will be for those living with them and their loved ones, who may not understand. High-functioning anxiety is real; those of us living with it still have the same horrible worrisome thoughts, nervous habits and paranoia. However cliche “don’t judge a book by its cover” may be, it rings true for those who struggle with “invisible illnesses” on the daily.

Reach out a hand and open your ears for your loved ones when they do finally decide to spill their heart out. Take them seriously and listen – you just may end up saving their life.