Sweating the . . . Anxiety Stuff

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You’ve heard the phrase “sweat like a pig” right? I like to say, “sweat like a boy.” I sweat like a boy. When I go to the gym I have to make sure one of their big floor fans is blowing on me, and I take my own little, personal fan that I can clip to the elliptical. I know, I’m a nerd. But I get hot, and I sweat, and it’s uncomfortable and gross and disgusting.

One thing that makes me sweat profusely is my social anxiety. Take this morning, for example. I went to a neighbor’s house to help clean. This sweet, sweet family has gone through so many trials and tough times lately, so some other women in my church and I went over to do some cleaning for them. I was really grateful for the opportunity to give service when I’ve had so much given to me the last couple of years. That didn’t stop the sweat.

The cleaning made me hot, anyway, and even though I was with these amazing, wonderful, friendly women my anxiety was bad. I’m so awkward around groups of people and my anxiety always takes over, making me feel so insecure and stupid and worthless—and it makes me sweat. So not only was I feeling more self-conscious than usual because of my anxiety, but it became a million times worse knowing my brow was sweating, my hair was sticking to my neck with sweat, and even though I’d showered that morning I wondered if I smelled bad. I wanted to dig myself a hole to crawl into and die. Why? Why sweat? And as soon as my anxiety dies down, I stop sweating and am totally fine.

It isn’t some earth-shattering thing that I have to go through with my anxiety—the sweat. But it is annoying and does add to the anxiety I’m already feeling and dealing with. So just know, if I’m sweating like crazy—even in a nice, cool house—it could be my anxiety, and maybe try not to be too disgusted. We’ve all got our things, right? Mine just happens to be uncomfortable, gross, disgusting sweat.

Just a Sappy Love Poem I Wrote

Two Hearts Beat as One

I reach up into the dimming dusk sky,
pluck out the nearly full moon,
pull it down and place it in my chest.
It replaces my heart—
a heart I give to you.
I hope you will be gentle with it,
set it next to yours,
let them beat and pulse in time together.
When you return it
I will put the moon back,
feel the warmth of your heart against my chest
and hope our hearts find each other again,
beat together forever.

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Self Reflection on Depression

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I realized something just today. Another one of the most horrible things that mental illness does is that it steals your identity. I already knew this about postpartum depression. I experienced it in the worst way. But I had never thought about it in terms of any other mental illness.

For over a month I was struggling severely with my depression. I feel like I’m just starting to come out of it, and looking back now I see all these things I did, said, thought, felt that just weren’t me—that weren’t the real me. It’s almost like someone inserted another person’s memories into my brain—because the real me would never do, say, think or feel those things.

Living with depression is already darkness, stumbling around with no light, dragging more and more weight behind you and on top of you every day. But it’s also doing it with no real identity—like you are nothing, nobody. Just some . . . lifeless thing.

I’m not trying to use any of this as an excuse. It’s more just self reflection and the hope that next time I will be more aware and try harder to hold onto who I am. I will try harder not to let the depression steal away who I am. Sometimes who I am is all I have.

Glove

Here’s another poem from my young friend, Kelsey Gibbons.

Glove

A glove is seen as a piece of clothing;
The piece that protects one’s hand from harm.
As hard as the outside tries,
It is unable to influence the hand.
Rain, come pour down but you will be
Unable to wet the hand.
Snow, come flutter down, but you will be
Unable to freeze the hand.
Thorns, come prick and poke, but you will be
Unable to pierce the hand.
Come chemicals, come bullets, come fire,
All will be unable to hurt the hand.
Everyone wishes to have a glove,
A glove to protect them.
Protect them from hurt, from pain,
But they don’t know—
They don’t know about the consequence.
You see, if one wears a glove for too long,
If one wears a glove through everything,
The glove will stick to the hand.
No matter what is done,
No matter what attacks,
It will not come off of the hand.
All things are protected from the hand.
The bad, yes,
But also the good.
The glove feels the wet of rain,
The soft of dog fur.
The glove feels the cold of winter,
The warmth of another’s hands.
The glove feels the prick of thorns,
The softness of a baby’s skin.
The glove protects, the glove covers.
The glove stops the pain
The pain of cutting the hand,
The pain of heartbreak,
The pain of divorce,
The pain of repeatedly broken trust,
The pain of constant stress,
The pain of being alone,
The pain of helplessly watching a loved one suffer,
The pain of parental affection denied,
The pain of never being enough,
But the glove also stops the joy.
The joy of good food, music
And romantic love.
The joy of exciting trips, playing with children
And platonic love.
The joy of trying new things, feeling happiness,
And familial love.
It stops the happiness and the pain from reaching the hand,
It stops the happiness and the pain from reaching my soul.

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I’m impressed that a seventeen-year-old has already learned this valuable lesson. It’s true—without the bad, we’d never know the good. The bad, the hard things, the pain help me appreciate the good things in life more.

Sometimes we want protection, and there are some things we do need protection from, but always having that glove on prevents us from experiencing life at its fullest. More than that, when we go through hard things, when we feel pain at its strongest, it gives us the opportunity to grow and to possibly help others as well.

Mountain Therapy, Music Therapy

This past week has been a rollercoaster of emotions. I’ve had some high highs and some very low lows. Last night I watched Hulu for hours and hours and feasted on waffle fries from Chick-fil-A for dinner, along with diet Coke and a whole six pack of raspberry-filled donuts. And I sobbed. A lot.

Today, I realized I couldn’t allow myself to engage in such destructive behavior again, so I thought about what might help me. I’ve talked about it before, but I will again—one of the tricky things about mental illness is that there’s no one set cure. Different things help different people. What works for one person might not work for someone else. I’ve dealt with my mental illness for so long that I’ve come to know what helps and what doesn’t—or at least what hasn’t helped so far. Two things that do help me are mountains and music. So I decided to take a drive up Little Cottonwood Canyon, while listening to music from my youth.

The drive was so good for me! Drinking in the towering granite cliffs with their varying shades of gray, black, blue, white. Being mesmerized at all the waterfalls I passed. It has been the second wettest spring on record here in Utah, so there were more waterfalls than I’d ever seen, and the river was raging harder than I’d ever seen. It made me downright giddy! And rocking out to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Pearl Jam, Collective Soul and Soundgarden—that was what I needed. That was my therapy.

Last night I was feeling pretty hopeless and defeated. I have those moments. We all have those moments. Sometimes it takes hitting rock bottom to remind me that I don’t have to stay there. I’m a fighter. I will get back up and soar above that rock. It may be hard, it may be painful. I may stumble and falter as I scrape my way up, claw my way out, but I won’t stay down. And when I get up, I will be stronger than I was before. I will be able to look back at what I’ve learned and use it to propel me forward. Doesn’t mean I won’t get on anymore rollercoasters. Doesn’t mean I won’t have anymore lows. Doesn’t mean my mental illness will be gone. But it does mean I can keep going. It does mean there is still hope.

How Far I’ve Come

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I just wrote about how hopeless things can be. Then I started thinking about how far I’ve come in regards to my mental health. If people could see where I was at twelve years ago, eleven years ago, ten, five, two—hell, even less than two years ago—I can say with confidence that they would be impressed! I have learned so much—from therapists, from books, from friends, from other bloggers. I have a better handle on my depression, anxiety and OCD because of what I have learned. I have grown so much, especially in the last two years. I have become myself again, and that is huge! I deserve to be proud of myself. I deserve to give myself credit for what I have accomplished. For those of you out there who are struggling, remember the good you have done, remember the good you have accomplished. Remember that and cling onto it with every ounce of strength you’ve got left!