I don’t know some days.
I had to admit that on Instagram the other day. It’s nothing new, but it is something I’m continually realizing, much to my displeasure.
I don’t know why it is that the moment I think I’m finally getting on top of things, something comes along and messes up my equilibrium. It’s a byproduct of living with anxiety and depression. They are always looking for something, some stimulus to take and convince you that it’s really the end of the world. It’s especially hard now, when there are some many things to be legitimately concerned about. Every day feels like a minefield, no safe space, not even inside your head.
Rachel A. Dawson recently put out a great list of small changes she’s making in her life to try and handle everything. Marissa Burdett in one of her recent recordings for The Ampersand Project said something similar: that we have the responsibility to curate our own life and cut out the things that no longer define us. Both are things I hope to aspire to, because I know I need them.
It shouldn’t be a revolutionary thing to say we are not only able but allowed to decide what we give space to in our lives. It shouldn’t be, but it is. Mostly because we live in a world that tries to violate our boundaries in so many ways, and, oh, I wish I was talking about social media consumption.
I find myself caught in a dilemma. On the one hand, I want to stay informed of certain things. I have a responsibility to, as a way to counteract my own privilege, and because I aspire to be a good person. I need to know about these things, because not knowing is how people get away with them. I need to listen to the voices calling out for things like justice and fairness, because they deserve to be heard and I made a promise to elevate them like I know I should.
But when you open the door to things, it’s not always easy to only accept what builds you up. Empathy and openness is a form of vulnerability, and vulnerability means being able to be wounded. So you have to make peace with the fact that you’re going to take hits.
At the same time, I have this demon inside my head that is always looking for something to tear my heart out over. In the absence of anything real, it will blow up something small. But if I feed it all this, it’s going to go bonkers.
I don’t know where the line is. I don’t know how to carry my burden and the world’s. I do know that this is probably a minor complaint compared to what other people are living through. Another aspect of privilege, I can turn the information off, they can’t; it’s their life. And that fact sends me down the spiral of thought all over again. Don’t I have the responsibility to weep with those who weep? Yet, if I keep it all coming, how long before the thing I can’t turn off inside my head finally wins?
One of the hardest lessons, that I have yet to learn, is that I don’t have to be anxious, that I don’t have to listen to that voice in my head that tells me it’s never going to be better. I know it’s possible, that I don’t have to make space for those thoughts. But I haven’t figured out how. It takes so much effort some days to stem the tide, and the moment I relax my grip, it all comes flooding in.
I know hope is not a lie, and I know it’s my biggest weapon against it. But it’s hard. Because you pray and pray, and you’re open and honest, and then the thing you were really afraid of happens, and you wonder if God is playing some kind of game. You ask why it is the thing you don’t want to happen always happens? You ask how you’re supposed to believe that what you want and how you feel matters when it has never seemed to make a difference?
And then you remember you’re not the first person to ask that. You remember thatnot only are you anxious but HSP and that means you react a certain way to things.
And I realize what I want is not so much for the world to be different, though I do want that. But what I really wish is that I could be different, that I was the kind of person who didn't react this way. Maybe even, some days, the kind of person who didn't react at all.
Depression lies, we know that. And the way to counteract it is with truth. When it tells you that you won’t survive this; you remind it that you have survived so far. When it tells you that no one likes and you’ll never accomplish anything worthwhile; you remind it that what you do matters and while there are plenty of people who think so, it wouldn’t make a difference if there was only one.
So, when it tells you it would be better if you weren’t the kind of person who felt anything or that it would be better for the world, and you, if you weren’t in it; you remind it that’s not what you want. That’s not a life worth living because that’s not a life at all.
Vulnerability hurts, but it’s the only thing that will change the world for the better. Self-care is important and not a thing to be ignored, even in the name of what’s right. And somehow these two can function side-by-side.
Life is balance, and while I’m still figuring out what that balance is and how to keep it up, I know that the trying is worth it. And on the days when I’m not sure I believe that, I’ll come to this place and write out my doubts, because I know there’s power in that, and maybe, just maybe, someone else will read them and know they aren’t alone in their doubts.
And that is worth it.
It’s not easy to walk the world with a heart of glass, but it’s better by far than one of stone.