Today, I awoke feeling anxious and weary, and much like the fog in my picture, these feelings clouded my day.. For me to admit when I am feeling anxious and/or depressed, or any other perceived negative feeling for that matter, can be difficult. I am so adept at masking my feelings with a big smile and answering “fine” when asked how I am feeling, that to admit otherwise, leaves me feeling vulnerable. Since my recent bout of depression and anxiety, I have noticed than when I tell the truth about having a rough day, people tend to fall into three camps: one, those who fear that the darkness has returned to swallow me whole; two, those who delight in watching me struggle and/or are invested in seeing me as someone who is “sick”; and three, those who recognize that a bad day is simply that, a bad day, not a cause for alarm. Thankfully, I told the truth to someone in the third camp this evening.
There was not one definitive reason or event that triggered the anxiety, but rather, it was a smattering of different things, kind of like a buffet. Today’s anxiety themed “menu” included missing my daughters, as I make the transition to working full-time; feeling restless from not being able to trail run in a few weeks; worrying about my pen pal who is facing some difficult changes and not being able to help at all; fearing for a special friend who is undergoing treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer; wondering what the future holds for me in a number areas of my life; and a litany of other concerns that weigh heavily on my heart and take up residence in my head. Being in the helping profession and having undergone therapy myself, trust me, I am well aware of the tricks of the trade to change and modify my behavior and thoughts to improve my mood, but today, I just couldn’t rally. Sometimes, I get so very tired of saying and doing the “right” thing, and I just give in to the negativity, even if only briefly. I also understand that I have so much to be grateful for and that others are in far worse situations than I am in, but those two ends of the spectrum did not balance my mood today. This leads me to feeling guilty about feeling badly. Leave it to me to feel badly for feeling badly-ugh! Now, on to the story . . .
I worked full-time until I had my first daughter in 2001, and I returned to part-time work in 2005, when my daughters were 2 and 4 years old. Last week, I returned to full-time work, and while I absolutely love my job, I love my girls even more. I was surprised by the feelings this shift evoked in me, especially since I really am excited and appreciative for the opportunity to do a job I value and enjoy. I have kept these mixed feelings to myself, so, I was surprised when I received a message this evening from Neil, my dear friend whom I regard as my big brother, asking me, “So, how has life changed since going full time?” I don’t believe in coincidences, so, the timing of his message and the message itself were not lost on me. Neil is one of the people who rushed in when so many people rushed out, as my world imploded last year, and I trust him enough to be myself, flaws and all, so, I told him about feeling anxious and sad today. Like all great big brothers, Neil was supportive and encouraging, but it was his following comments that resonated with me the most and put things into perspective, “And, it’s okay to feel anxious and sad. There is nothing wrong with that, other then proving you are human and care. Enjoy feeling sad just as much as happy (Gosh, wish I knew how to do that).” Spot on and brilliant, just like he is!
What a concept that anxiety and sadness are okay actually, and the thought of being able to enjoy them, rather fight them or fear them, calmed my baby soul and made me feel a sense of inner peace. I have heard similar ideas and perspectives from professionals, but I have an uncanny way of making my situation so unique that I will dismiss the facts and ignore the obvious. I usually think things will work for others, but I am pessimistic sometimes when it comes to myself. That said, when my big brother tells me something, I tend to listen to him and believe him. We may not share the same genes, but we are kindred souls indeed.
So, I still have the same concerns and issues that led to an anxiety-tinged-with-sadness day, but I know that I have these feelings for good reasons and because I really do care about others and, even, myself. As much as I prefer having good days to rough days, it feels good to be able to tell the truth about how I feel and to be understood and supported. “Happy” Kristi has nothing on “Anxious/Depressed” Kristi; we are a package deal, and we both are worth it. For those people who only can accept the positive parts of my life and of who I am, you have no idea how much you are missing, as there is beauty and hope amidst the pain.
That’s another story . . .
Categories: That's Another Story