I don’t care what type of specific diagnosis you want to manifest as: Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Selective Mutism, Panic Disorder, Agoraphobia, and others. You are so creative in the ways you cripple our lives.
Of all the horrible things I have to say to you… I want to tell you I hate you most because you hurt my children. I want to go to sporting events, volunteer with groups at school, plan big birthday parties, and do all those things moms get to do. The joy on their faces warm my heart on the days I make those things happen. It takes everything I have to do it.
The tragedy is that you, Anxiety, hold me hostage and keep me from being who I want to be. You have killed the mom I wanted to be… still want to be. You must relish in the moments I hear my youngest say, “Why isn’t Mommy coming to church again?” And do you contort your beastly face into a demonic smile when you hear, “I wish you could come with us today. It’s not as much fun at the game when you’re not there.” You break their hearts. But they are still too young to understand… so you make it look like I am the one breaking their hearts. They don’t understand it’s not me. I take the blame for you and your evil ways! I HATE YOU!!! You break my baby’s hearts…
Anxiety, you will not win. Just as you have been relentless in my life, I, too, will persist beyond your ability to hold your grasp on my life. It’s MY LIFE. It is not yours. I will continue finding the right balance of medications, holistic approaches, and therapy to finally beat you some day. Then I’ll plan a big party for myself and invite everyone I know! Well… almost everyone. You, Anxiety, will not be invited. You will be burning in Hell where you belong.
Female, Age 37
Clinical Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD
Welcome my newest teacher - cancer. I was told six years ago that I had six months to live with, yet another, condition. I learned a lot from that experience, and it introduced me to you. I know you are inoperable, but we have a plan for your transportation when it is time to go.
So far you have taught me so much. You have shown me the value of the little things, every moment, and how much I love my family and friends. You teach me something every day. In fact today you taught me the limits of pain when you caused both of my legs and forearms; chest, and neck to all cramp up at one time. You showed me that I was not in control, as I lay there on the floor hoping someone would come scoop me up.
You have taught me that it is more important than ever to work with my clients in recovery from substance abuse and my people that come to me for Shamanism.
When you leave, I will give gratitude for all you have taught me as I gave gratitude to a different diagnosis – cirrhosis – all those years ago because it taught me to be vegan, to be abstinent, and to walk a spiritual path.
So, Diagnosis, you’ve brought me this new teacher, so I will thank you as well. That said, I don't mind if you stop visiting me so often. The hepatic encephalopathy has been a hoot. Who knew you could end up in the backyard in the middle of the night with your last memory being lying down to bed?! Or that time I was suddenly at a stoplight in the neighboring town with no idea how I got there, and I was driving… Thanks for banding of verifies in my throat, too, which is always a gentle reminder of the cost of partying too hard.
In all, Diagnosis, you have brought me a lot these last six years, and I am a much better man for it.
P.S.: Big time thanks to the Department of Veteran's Affairs who has taken me under their wing and is covering all of this treatment including the impending transplant. Also, none of this would be possible without my support team and the people around me who are helping me in many ways. I love them all (and the VA too).
Male, Age 51
Diagnoses Unclear at time of Publication
You’ve made me an invisible celebrity! How is this possible you ask? Well, people begin to whisper when they see me enter a room. They look at me but are careful to give just the right amount of eye contact to communicate a friendly hello. Then, they watch me with brief looks through quick glances; so as to avoid being caught staring. I’m the most talked about person at family reunions. Thanks to you, people want to know so much about me and gossip. I could probably have my own magazine that they’d just love to read!
Like a celebrity, the average person knows little about me. They know my job, how many kids I have, and, perhaps, where I vacationed recently. But they don’t know the real me. They don’t want to dare cross that social stigma to associate with someone who is "mentally ill" and battling an invisible diagnosis… battling YOU! If I had cancer, they’d send casseroles and understand why I can’t make it to an event. Depression, however, you are riddled with symptoms people don’t understand.
I want to rip my hair out when people give me their well-intended antidotes and cures. I’ve really heard it all at this point. “Just trust Jesus more and you’ll be happy.” “I have an essential oil for that!” “Everyone goes through a tough time at some point and this will pass.” “Lose some weight, eat healthier, and do yoga. A healthy body equals a healthy mind.”
While there is some truth to all of these for people struggling with a tough time in their life, you, Depression, are a different beast. I have tried all of the above, along with: counseling facilitated by a trauma therapist, EMDR, CBT, psychotropic medications, psychiatrist, a 5-week intensive treatment facility, and more! Nothing has “cured” me at this point. It’s still a struggle every single day of my life, thanks to you...
One of my favorite lines from a movie about a woman struggling to manage you comes from a scene where her husband asks her why she chooses to live where she is with a friend (who also has suffered from the agony of your control) and not at her home. Her response was so powerful to me. She simply said, “She doesn’t ask me how I am. She knows.”
My family does not understand and is not supportive. It’s possible I’ll lose my job because I’ve missed so much work for side effects from medications, days when you and anxiety trap me from escaping the security of my bed, or other lovely aspects of your nasty diagnosis. And just like people stop when they hear a celebrity’s name… people stop when they hear the words “mental illness” or “Clinical Depression”. They get afraid and worried by the real you. You are like the plague! When people ask how I am doing it’s just easier to say, “I’m tired.” If I really told them… they couldn’t handle it. And even worse, if I told them, “I’m clinically depressed,” I’d often get a response like, “I’ve been so depressed lately, too! There’s just so much to do and blah, blah, blah.” They’ve never really met you. They don’t know how you ruin lives. How you’ve ruined mine. I hate you Depression!
Female, Age 37
Clinical Depression, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, PTSD, Epilepsy