There are very few things in life that you absolutely cannot change.
How you chose to live is not one of those things.
I was 10 years old when my mental wellness began to shift. Only 10 years old.
It almost consumed me, depression, as I grew older. It sat there, in the driver seat, driving me along life’s roads, while anxiety hummed along to the songs on the radio from the backseat.
I spent decades wrestling for control. Finding ways to cope with the dark times.
Struggling with the moments anxiety reached to the front to swat my hands away from the radio dial when I tried to change the sounds coming from the speakers.
After my son was born, right in the middle of traffic, depression stopped the car. It, along with anxiety, climbed out onto the busy roadway – and changed places.
22 years later, after I’d finally come to a place on this journey where, on my own, by my own will, my outlook on life, my drive, my dreams, I’d successfully gained control of my mental wellness with coping tools that proved useful – everything changed.
With anxiety behind the wheel now, the scenery flies by faster. Road signs pass in a blur. Exits aren’t an option, because we’re just going too fast to slow down.
Overwhelmed. It’s what happened as I struggled to find some leverage over it. As I struggled to find new ways to cope with this much more powerful chauffeur.
Struggled to find the strength to keep up the fight.
Struggled to keep my outlook, my hope, my dreams, my future, intact as I did so.
Every time I’d gain some footing, and we’d slow down, feel like even the smallest victory may be on the horizon… we’d pick the pace back up, and off we’d be going.
Depression has certainly been a lot quieter in the back than anxiety ever was. It’s let me fiddle with the stations a bit, here and there. But that’s because I had a little control over it’s manipulate ways.
Anxiety is more aggressive.
Anxiety has proven to dig its heels in more.
Hold a little tighter to that wheel.
Slap my hand away with the heat of a burning fire when I try to reach for it to change our course ever so slightly.
I refuse to admit defeat.
But I have come to a place where I’m not afraid to roll my window down and call out for help.
And in those calls for help, use a different tool in my fight. Or many different tools.
Anxiety has proven to me that it’s going to be a much harder battle to fight on my own.
I don’t have the years to put the effort in to prove in wrong. Another 20 years, and I’ll miss my son’s childhood. His teen years. Some of his hard college years.
I feel grateful that I’ve been able to give him, in his brief few years so far, a version of a mentally well mother, while fighting the demons in the dark while he sleeps.
But I feel those days becoming harder. I know soon those days will become few. I know there will be days where, no matter how much I try, anxiety will creep through and shout at him. And he will see the face of anxiety on someone he knows as mommy. To me, that’s not okay.
I have taken the steps to spur into motion my gaining control of this speeding car. My mental wellness will be secure. Not just because of how I see my own hopes, dreams, my future… but because of my son’s.
It’s okay to reach for help. Okay to say “I’m not okay.”