Fun With Anxiety and Depression

After years of struggling with depression and anxiety, I'm ready to admit I still have it, but it doesn't define me. @OneFunnyMotha

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The other day I lied.

I was in the waiting room of the physical therapist’s office filling out the in-take form when I came to an unexpected question. It asked for the names of all the medications I take, but instead of listing them all (there’s only two), I omitted the Paxil. Hunched over the clip board, pen poised in the air over the form, I paused. Why does he need to know? What does the arthritis in my back have to do with my mental problems?

After years of struggling with depression and anxiety, I'm ready to admit I still have it, but it doesn't define me. @OneFunnyMotha

Although I’ve toyed with twisting the truth before, I’ve never actually gone through with it. I’ve always relented in honestly listing my meds because these are medical doctors we’re talking about, and the omission could have potential dangerous consequences. If questioned by the doctor about the medications listed, I just say the Paxil is for depression, which it is only that’s not the reason it was prescribed to me. Everyone’s on Xanax or Prozac or Zoloft these days so I know this little fib won’t raise an eyebrow. In fact, it’s probably expected. With so many people on meds, now there’s something wrong with you if you’re not medicated. (“You’re telling me you’re not on Xanax? What the hell’s wrong with you?”)

But that day sitting in the physical therapist’s office, I didn’t want to have to explain myself. I didn’t want someone making assumptions about me. I didn’t want to be seen in some altered light. Although I have a long running history with depression, I didn’t even want to use that as an excuse for the Paxil. At the time of the appointment, I’d been fighting depression for weeks, mostly by trying to ignore it, and now that I was out of the house, where depression hits hardest, I wanted to forget. I just wanted to be a regular, normal, semi-functional person. For once. Please allow me to pretend.

So I didn’t say a thing.

It’s not that I’m embarrassed or ashamed. Not too much anyway. I’ve done a lot of work on recovery. But I don’t want to be defined by my mental illness. I have it. It’s there. I’m managing. Does everyone need to know? I also want to pretend that that part of my life is over, but as evidenced by recent events it’s clearly not. I’m pretty sure I’m in it for the long hall, and while it’s gotten much better, it still persists, showing up every now and then when I’m not at all in the mood. When it pops up it always manages to surprise me. I’ve been fighting off the depression and anxiety for so long I really feel like it should be gone by now. Why is it still here, Goddammit?

So in addition to the arthritis for which I was seeking physical therapy and my high cholesterol because apparently I’m 80, I also suffer from (at-times severe) anxiety and depression. I could’ve named this blog, One Depressed Motha, but I don’t know. I didn’t feel like that had the same catchy ring to it. And the truth is while I find myself battling depression on occasion, I don’t like to write about it. It’s bad enough I have to live with it. Do I really have to talk about it, too? Just leave me alone with my mental illnesses.

I’ve avoided writing about the depression and anxiety, which for me comes in the form of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder for which the medication was prescribed), in large part, because most of the time I’m trying to run away from them. Why would I focus on the very things I’m struggling mightily to forget? That makes no sense. I’d rather focus on humor. It’s way more fun. Although I’ll admit being funny when you’re depressed presents its challenges.

All this is why I came up with my New Years Resolutions. Why I so desperately need a change. Which I wrote about on Romper although I happened to leave out the whole mental illness part. But I felt like it was time to come clean. This is a part of who I am. And as much as I wish it wasn’t, I feel I have to acknowledge it.

The other thing is as much as I like to jest, it’s not all fun and games over here. I thought you should know. I started this blog to be honest. About everything. So that maybe others wouldn’t feel so alone in this mixed-up parenting world like I did when I first gave birth all those years ago. If I can in any way help others with my honesty, that’s what I’d like to do.

In that vein, always remember at least you have your health.

Just not necessarily your mental health.

*Let it be noted I was not depressed when I wrote this piece. Had I been depressed this would have been a lot more depressing.

Don’t forget. I can be funny – like in my book, I STILL JUST WANT TO PEE ALONE, the third installment in The New York Times best-selling series from some of the funniest women on the web. For a good time get it on AmazonKindleiTunes and Barnes and Noble. I will love you forever. 

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23 thoughts on “Fun With Anxiety and Depression”

  1. I also have anxiety and OCD. Im also on mediciation but I dont care who knows. To be at peace with it I need to make sure Im not hiding it. Its part of me, not all of me. I also have Rheumatoid arthritis, are we related? ?Keep smiling and keep writing because we love ya b

  2. I have had periods of depression, but anxiety is more my burden. I come by it honestly through both parents.

    I see my college age daughter suffering from the same anxieties that I had at her age and I don’t know how to help her. She’s not open to therapy or medication, but she suffers so much and cuts herself off from others due to social anxiety and it hurts to watch.

    Why is it so hard for us to reach out for help when we are suffering so?

    1. This scares me the most. Watching our children suffer. Even though I have extensive experience w/ anxiety, I still have trouble helping my daughter who I’ve discovered has a bit of OCD herself. I think when we’re suffering, it’s so hard just surviving that we can’t imagine doing more. How can we possibly get help when we can barely get through the day? But I would vociferously encourage your daughter to get on medication and then she may have the strength to start therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy saved my life. Although I was resistant to meds, too, b/c I didn’t like the idea of being on medication for the rest of my life, it does help. And when you’re suffering so much why would you NOT do something that will ease your distress? Maybe we feel weak. Maybe we feel like we should just be able to handle it ourselves. But it is a malfunction in our brain & it needs to be treated. As people often say, if you had diabetes & needed meds you would take it, right? Same thing. (And tell her I said so!) Best of luck with your daughter.

  3. I’ve struggled with depression for all my adult life and have accepted that it’s not going to totally ever turn me loose. So I have good meds and listen to the people who love me…….but the struggle is fierce at times and I get weary……but never so weary that I can’t laugh.

  4. Sitting here, tears streaming down my face. Fighting the demons myself, and KNOWING I’m not alone, but still FEELING that way. I’m so sorry you have the struggle, too, but so grateful you are open and willing to share. <3

    1. Aww. You are NOT alone. But I know how it feels. I’m in a much better place now, but it still comes on sometimes when I’m so clearly DONE with it. Hang in there. One day at a time. It does get better. And do something positive for yourself – get your nails done, read a book, go for ice cream, take a class, whatever brings you a bit of pleasure. It will help.

    2. Maybe the tears are healing in some way, knowing you are not alone. I recently cried in the middle of a yoga class. Not enough to draw any attention to myself, but enough for me to acknowledge that I am finding acceptance with my illnesses and maybe I am finally starting to heal. Wishing you peace and a treatment plan that’s just right for you.

  5. This is the first time I have read your blog, and I am so grateful I started with this post. You write so openly and about your mental illnesses and I applaud you.

    I just started writing about my mental illnesses on a blog I started last month, and for the first time, I am starting to feel free. I have been SO guarded about my bipolar disorder (diagnosed after having postpartum psychosis) and anxiety that it’s made having a mental illness even more troubling. Thank you so much for “outing” yourself. You’re my hero!

    I hope to read some of your funny, too, because after holding so much of my own problems inside for so long, I really need a few laughs.

    1. Thank you so much. I really appreciate your comments. Obviously admitting it is the first step, but I did do that years ago. I think I’m only able to write about it now b/c I feel I have some control back in my life. I don’t feel so powerless or helpless. Although when it was much worse, I did write about it. I just did it privately. The truth will set you free & I think getting it out of your head and onto paper will, too.

      1. Thanks. Little by little I am getting there.

        I assumed that my problems were over a few years ago as long as I took the medication, but I am learning I will always have to manage it as time goes along. Sharing with family and a few close friends has been really helpful.

        I’ve written about it for years privately, but part of admitting it for me is pushing it out into the world. I want to defy stigmas and show that I am a functioning person and a good mom to two kids, despite my imbalances. While I don’t want the illnesses to define me, I am tired of living in secrecy. Definitely time to get out of my head. It’s gotten crowded up there 😉

  6. I thought I’d commented on this but I don’t see it. Anyway, just wanted to say (again?) that this really resonated with me. Sometimes depression and anxiety are just too exhausting to even mention. I admit to waffling over the fairly new idea that it’s better to talk about things. I mean, yes, it is instead of going back to a time of repression and silence, obviously, but then again, depending on your particular disease, going over and over things is sometimes the opposite of freeing. Not sure I’m making sense, but anyway, just wanted to say I felt something reading this, which is always important to say.

    1. Thanks so much for commenting. I absolutely understand what you’re saying. While you do have to admit your demons and I think it IS good to talk about it, writing about it for me is difficult. But I didn’t want to give a false impression of myself to people. I wanted people to see a real human under all the humor pieces I write. And I thought admitting it publicly might help others.

  7. I am right there with you. I write a lot of humor, but I write a lot about anxiety and depression as well. I find it helpful. I find it more helpful than any therapy I’ve had. It makes life easier (for me) if I accept these things about myself. I don’t even mind talking about them. I get the side eye a lot, but people have thought that I’m weird for most of my life, I can take it.

    1. Weird people unite! I’m glad it helps you. I’m not sure what it does for me. All I know is it’s hard for me to write about. I’ve had some damn good therapy in my time so I can’t say it’s been better than that, but writing can definitely be cathartic.

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