I had a conversation with someone the other day, about my mental health. We were chatting about anxiety and how it affects people. They commented to me “well, now you are better, you don’t need to say you HAVE anxiety”, they didn’t mean any harm or offense by this, or to be critical, they were just observing that I seemed “ok” and therefore must be cured.
I am not cured. I need to be clear about this. The likelihood is that I will never be “cured”. The reality is that for as long as I can remember I have struggled with anxiety, and there have been periods in my life where it has badly affected me and caused me to not cope. I have a diagnosis of anxiety disorder. At this current time I am not taking medication and I am not in treatment or therapy for my anxiety but I do see a doctor every three months to check on how I am doing and if I need any input or help. I have taken medication for my mental health issues, and I have had CBT therapy and also counselling and one to one therapy and at the moment I implement tools I have learned from those, to function.
Day to day, I seem ok and right now, I am “doing well”. I would describe myself as managing day to day life, with the odd wobble. I am not naive or in denial though that I could struggle again. That is the reality of where I am at. I choose not to be medicated, for now because for me, the side effects of the medications cause me issues that I prefer not to experience. So, because I am unmediated, I do struggle with some levels of anxiety more, because the medication is not in my system to numb and ease some of the feelings, but I have chosen to try and manage them as holistically as possible. I have two people in my life that I hold myself accountable to, who know me well, and if they can see I might be struggling they are very good at coming to me and poking me gently to check and see where I am at. I am very aware of my own strengths and vulnerabilities and know myself well enough to raise my hand and say “I am not coping, I need help”. I took myself to my doctor when I realized I was very deeply depressed with post natal depression, and when I was struggling with anxiety, prior to the mental health breakdown that led to long term treatment for my anxiety. I believe myself capable of looking after my mental health, and be responsible for asking for help. I am not anti medication, and if it was needed, I would begin to take it again. For now, my doctor feels that I am coping well without it and agrees that I can manage.
I am doing ok. In January, I had a few days where I thought I might be really struggling. I find the winter months harder on my mental health, and I do feel more anxious. Certain life events and circumstances that have come our way, have made managing my emotions and feelings quite a bit harder, but I think I am pretty much finding a balance. This is the reality of living with anxiety.
I don’t ask to be defined by anxiety. I don’t tell people I have anxiety. In fact, when I tell someone who doesn’t know, they may be surprised. I don’t seem anxious or to be struggling with a mental health issue. I am good at doing normal. I have to do normal. I look after myself but I am not letting anxiety rule me. It tries to, and sometimes I have to fight VERY hard, to not let it take me over, but for now, I am “better”.
I am not cured. I will not spend my life trying to be cured. I live with anxiety, it does not live with me. I fight, and I will continue to win. I am ok with that. Anxiety has actually made me stronger, made me realize what I am capable of and that I can do this life and be me.
My mind fights a battle, just like someone else might fight a physical illness. Having anxiety does not make me less of a person, or someone to be pitied.
I am not cured, but I am not broken…