I usually don't write about life stuff unless I'm through it, unless I've already come out the other side, because this feels so much like teaching a lesson, and I feel like I can't if I don't understand the lesson yet myself.
The irony, the deep, deep, facepalm, come-on-you-know-this irony is that writing about it is often, (read: nearly always), the thing that gets me through it, that helps me learn what the lesson is.
I'm not surprised, though, that I forget that. I've never liked talking about mental illness like it's a demon, because it's not, because there are deep, and traumatic, theologies wrapped up in that. Nevertheless, there are times when the imagery, (if we remember that it is just imagery), applies. Because things like anxiety and depression often work to lead us away from the very things that would help us with our anxiety and depression. In fact, they are almost always working to convince us that the cures are actually the disease.
Community is the number one go-to for a healthy mindset and self-image. Anxiety says that everyone hates us, and that if we let the others get too close they'll see the very thing we're hoping they'll help us with, and then they'll leave.
So much self-care advice tells us to get up and do one thing, no matter how small, because that little bit of accomplishment can be used as fuel to do the next thing and the next and the next. Depression tells us that it won't work, that we'll get it wrong, or make things worse. That there's no point in starting at all.
The worst of it, though, is when they work in tandem. When your anxiety tells you that no matter how stable or healthy you get, the moment you find any kind of equilibrium, that you have successfully mastered the push-and-pull of your life, something will come along and mess it all up. And when it does, depression is there waiting to wrap you up in terror and whisper: Told. You. So.
And what really sucks about life is that something will inevitably come along. Something unexpected. Something unplanned. Something you missed or forgot about, (because, guess what, you're human). Something uninvited will show up and, because your mental stability can feel like an eggshell most days, you will crack.
The thing about anxiety is that it doesn't need reasons. It will find them, fabricate them. It can be very creative. It doesn't need legitimate reasons, and yet legitimate reasons show up. And, honestly, that is the one thing I can't stand. If it was all in my head. If it was just the illogical, the completely fictional, the inane garbage that neurodivergence can produce, then things would be a lot easier. Because that stuff is relatively easy to combat. You can make lists. You can mine the data and write down and remind yourself "no, this isn't, in fact, the end of the world." If it was all in my head, I feel like I could handle it.
But it's not just that stuff. It's not just things that are totally out of your hands, that you could never logically blame yourself for. It's real things. It's mistakes you've made, times when you weren't perfect, things you said that changed things, even though you had to say them. That's the stuff that's hard to combat because it is real, it's tangible, it's consequences.
It's a last minute expense you didn't plan for. A birthday you forgot about. It's someone not texting you back.
Because anxiety loves to say "you deserve this." And it's very, very hard to believe you don't when stuff like that happens. It's hard when something else, when someone else, outside of the voices in your head, gives you a reason to believe the voices in your head.
And I know what I'm asking is that I wish the world were better. I wish life didn't take so much effort sometimes. And the moment the words are in my mouth, the second the thought forms in my head, I know it's the dumbest thing I could possibly say. Because life isn't fair, and it's not supposed to be easy, and no one is responsible for your mental health but you.
It's funny how what we call healing often involves forcing ourselves back into the mindsets we're trying to escape from.
I tell myself, people are busy.
I tell myself, bills are bills.
I tell myself, life is unpredictable.
But that doesn't stop me from wishing I could at least feel like I have some of this figured out.
That doesn't stop me from wanting my efforts to count towards something.
That doesn't stop me from wondering if anyone is ever going to care about me as much as I care about them.
And I don't have an answer. I'm not writing this from a place of knowing more or better. I wish I did. I so wish I did. I wish I had the answer. I wish I could finish this with a 5-point list of "surefire cures for loneliness." That's half the reason I don't write about this stuff enough. Because I so want to be on the other side of this. I don't want to be struggling, I want to have struggled and be done. I want to stop treading water because I'm already on the boat.
And to whoever may be reading this, (because anxiety tells me no one is, and I don't know if that's a lie or not), I wish I could tell you what worked for me so, God-willing, it would work for you, but I can't.
I'm in that messy middle that I'm starting to realize is just called living. I don't know how to reconcile the voices in my head with reality, and there are too many days when I don't try. I don't know what to say when it feels like you're being ignored, because you've tried and no one has answered back.
I can say I'm right there with you. When you look at all that well-meaning life advice and what to spit because they just don't get it. When you have put in so much effort and you can't help but ask "why isn't anyone else? Why is it always me that has to reach out?" Because I worry that no one thinks about me when I'm not there. I worry that it seems like I have to remind people I exist sometimes. And, yeah, you won't get what you need if you don't ask, but asking doesn't mean you'll get it.
I wish the world treated me better, too.
Until then, I keep going. Because they're right: we won't get if we don't try, and you still don't always get, but the alternative is worse.
Until then, we keep trying and hoping and wishing and praying and asking. We make friends with disappointment becuase, hey, they're actually pretty consistent about returning our calls.
Until then, we do the best we can with what we have.
Until then, we do even though we're not ready. We ask the questions even if we don't know the answer just yet.
Until then, I write.