There was a time in my life when I experienced constant anxiety. Obsessive thoughts, excessive worry, and uncontrollable heart palpitations. Fear of the future was constant. Daily. Over time, my anxiety faded. I couldn’t contribute its
Inside, I waged a silent war. If I got too angry, I’d be institutionalized; one doctor had threatened, twice, to send me to a psych ward during one of my ER visits. But, if I was too calm, no one would take me seriously. If I wanted help, I had to develop a new personality.
So I wrote a new character: I was an innocent bystander held captive by my body that was, in turn, possessed by a mysterious force. I had to separate myself from my symptoms and prove I was of sound mind.
But I couldn’t convince the doctors of my undiagnosable pain. Their diagnosis was consistent across the board: I was having a nervous breakdown.
Just like I had done before, I skipped the sugar pills in the birth control pack to avoid having a period. I punished you; I shamed you. Instead of seeing my time of the month as sacred and beautiful, or, at the very least, completely normal, I just skipped it all together. I never allowed you to learn your cycles or find your rhythms. It was easier that way.
My quest for balance was just my familiar perfectionism, repackaged and rebranded in a wellness buzzword. I had swallowed the idea of balance as a perfectly curated life with planned, indulgent breaks; there was no room for improvisation, spontaneity, or feeling.
Fighting is eating in the middle of night. It’s crying as my hair continues to fall out, despite the nourishment I’m finally giving myself. It’s living in a gassy, bloated, and constipated body as my digestive system repairs itself. It is forcing myself out the door to have coffee with a friend, when all I want to do is hide under my comforter. It’s facing the fact that I have to grow up, that I can’t stay a child forever. It’s smiling when the doctor congratulates me on my weight gain, only to leave his office in tears, mentally formulating my relapse.
By the time I’d scheduled a consultation with a fertility clinic, I’d been trying to get pregnant for over five years. Normally a generalized aura, my worry had morphed into a hot, sweaty, magnetic force field. It drew in all of my fears so I could study them up close: I worried about the expense and my age; the tests, the results; and the side effects of the hormones I would have to inject into my stomach and thighs. I worried it wouldn’t work and I’d never have a family.
I see the old me. Her hands tremble whenever she’s nervous, and just about everything makes her nervous. It feels like ghosts are slithering underneath her skin; they never give her body enough room to know what it feels like not to be anxious.
Two weeks later I experienced what I can only describe as a nervous collapse. My body shook uncontrollably; I was trembling and cold and terrified. I had no idea what was happening to me. I recalled waking up alone in an empty apartment as a two year old, crying uncontrollably and searching for my mother in the building’s hallways. Something was terribly wrong with me. I was sure I was dying.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a writer. Not professionally, but in quiet moments in my room, on airplanes, and in birthday cards. I got a degree in English Lit, which for
Loving yourself is a challenge on the best of days, let alone in the midst of loss and grief. And let’s get real right quick—grief is fucking everywhere. It’s in the shitty stuff like death,
He cried. He cried so much. He wasn’t gaining weight as he should have been. He spit up all the time, sometimes in a long projectile. I breastfeed and bottle fed and nothing soothed him for long. Soon his knees were at his chest and he would start crying again.
I knew something was wrong. I knew in my gut, as a mother knows. Any time I brought up my concerns people told me that babies cry and babies spit up. I was brushed off and ignored. No one knew that I was drowning. That I would daydream about taking him back to the hospital. How I wished I could put him on my doorstep so a neighbor would take care of him just so I could get a break.
“Why can’t we just get wrinkles, have zits, and fucking live?”
I realized I’d been carrying around a heavy idea about my self-worth: I was not worthy or beautiful without makeup.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that you must not let anyone try to convince you that your mental illness isn’t valid. You are not alone.
Like any nutritionist would tell you, we can’t eat every food item we see and expect to feel awesome later.
I was 11 years old the first time I noticed my thighs. I fixated on their size, the way they squished together when I walked. I loathed them.
The moon and the woman’s cycle reflect one another, a powerful reminder than feminine energy is cyclical rather than linear…