You never imagine that it will happen to you. It happens to "those" people. The ones with the crazy upbringing, the traumatic incident, or the life-changing situation. It happens to the ones with the "crazy" parents and the ones with the screw that seems just a little loose.
It doesn't happen to the ones with the childhood that was so normal it teetered on boring. The one with the good grades, college degree, great husband, and amazing kids. And it most certainly doesn't happen to the wife of a major league baseball player.
Except... it does.
Anxiety doesn't discriminate. It doesn't care how you grew up, how much money you have, or how perfect your life seems. It doesn't care what you have to accomplish day in and day out and it certainly doesn't give a damn about your hopes and dreams.
Anxiety lives to paralyze you. Trap you. Hit you where it knows you are weakest.
It is a no holds barred... take all prisoners disease. It traps you in your own mind and makes the real world seem so far away. You can touch it but yet it isn't there, it is separated from you by a layer of "what ifs," self-doubt, and crippling stress.
The trickiest part about treating anxiety is that is comes in all shapes and forms. My anxiety is different than yours and yours may have nothing to do with mine. What triggers me makes you laugh and what brings you to your knees makes me roll my eyes.
My therapist once described my type of anxiety as the "double noose effect." I have two nooses around my neck; one is the sane one -- the one telling me that none of this is real, it is purely irrational thoughts and thinking it is so dumb. The other noose though... that's the one that gets you -- that's the one that can take any bad situation in the world and make you internalize it. It is the one that obsesses over everything that could go wrong and scares you into never venturing outside your comfort zone. Stay in your box it says... and sometimes it tells you that even your box is a death trap.
It affects everyone around you too. The people you love most watch you suffer and are left helpless. They try to talk you down and don't succeed. They get upset and tell you to get over it.
Your parents say:
"What do you have to be upset about? You live a charmed life. It could be worst. Suck it up."
Oh and what you wouldn't give to suck it up.
To flip a switch and not feel it anymore... not think it... not have it take over.
Do you know that one in 1 in 4 people lives with a mental illness. That's a common as silver cars, more common than having blue eyes, and twice as common as being left handed. Yet many of these people suffer in silence. Why aren't we talking about it?
Why are we hiding it?
What are we ashamed of?
I decided that I was done being ashamed of something that is beyond my control. I wanted to leave my pill bottle out on the counter instead of hiding it in the cabinet after every time I took it "incase someone should come over and see it"... God forbid! I wanted to step out of the shadow and say "this is not a big deal -- get over it!" and so I did.
It started with a blog post in October of 2014 where I announced that I, yes -- me -- wife of 3 time all star Minnesota Twins closer Glen Perkins was struggling with anxiety. I wanted to rip off the band-aid and get people talking. From there I sat down and penned "Running Home" (released May 2016) which details my battle with on going anxiety and what helps me cope... especially running.
What part does running play in my anxiety cure? To be honest I am not exactly sure. I know that when I run my mind is clearer. I know that when I get back I am able to process things in a more levelheaded way. I run out my adrenaline, anxiety, and fear. I run from my worry, stress, and what if's. Maybe it is the endorphins or maybe it is the quiet time that allows me the time I need to work things out. Whatever it is, somehow completely exhausting myself has become the most relaxing part of my days.
I no longer want to hear about teenagers and celebrities taking their lives over something bigger than them. For those of you out there who are lucky enough to live anxiety and depression free, I ask for your empathy and compassion. It is something that is near impossible to explain unless you experience it.
And for those of you nodding your head as you read this: you no longer need to feel shame, embarrassment, guilt or pain. Instead I want you to feel hope, healing and freedom.
It is out there and you can have it... you DESERVE to have it.
Society today puts a ton of pressure on us to be "normal" and have our lives look "perfect." Anxiety magnifies this, of course, and I struggle with Facebook and Instagram because I feel like it is a constant comparison of our lives to others.
It happens when you post a pic of your perfect smiling family at the pumpkin patch even though two minutes earlier Julie was kicking Tommy, or when you and your spouse force a hug for a photo at a fancy restaurant even though you are actually in the middle of a huge fight.
You all know you do it. I know I do.
Or, you snap a photo and immediately think "Oh I should tweet, Facebook, Instagram this," when really you should just be enjoying the moment.
The constant comparisons can actually have damaging effects and make us less likely to admit our truths. I know this about myself and therefore am sensitive to it. I try not to compare my life to others, but we all do it.
There is nothing wrong with social media, as long as it is being used in a healthy way. I just wish we could all be a little more honest and expose ourselves for who we really are. It's hard to spend all day trying to be the people we create.
Instead... be honest... be authentic... be real... and you just might become free. I know I did.