Category Archives: #depression

What Do You Feel?

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What Do You Feel?

Identifying feelings can be hard. One doesn’t usually experience just one feeling but a myriad of them. When we ask someone; “What do you feel? or How do you feel?” what is our honest expected answer. There are many events I attend, running into acquaintances and they ask; “How are you?” I wonder what they’d do if a person told them their feelings. If someone actually laid our their emotions, the good, bad and in between, what would be the response? I think most of us wouldn’t know how to handle it. When we ask; “How are you?” there is an unspoken code that says; “Fine, good, or okay” is the appropriate comebacks.  We get used to this and even when someone we love and loves us inquires about feelings we give the easy answers.

Therapy was today. My talk therapist doesn’t let me get away with; “Fine, good, okay.” She digs deeper, wanting to know what I’m feeling, why these feelings, what happened to produce these feelings. She’s big on feelings and questions about feelings! I’m not big on answering them. Honestly, I squirm, become animated and agitated, but she’s persistent and eventually, we dig down deep enough where there’s no longer pleasantries but raw emotion.

I realize we can’t do that with everyone but there are times if we’re focused and aware of the person we are talking with we notice the answer doesn’t match the facial expressions, the tone of voice, the hollow eyes or body language. Are we willing to set aside our schedule to dig deeper, offer a listening ear, reach out to help? Feelings and emotions are messy. However, if someone opens up to you be sure not to let this amazing moment pass by.

For more posts, reflections and other writings, please visit: http://www.thewannebsaint.com

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)

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Putting Feet to Your Faith

Putting Feet to Your Faith

This morning, in worship service, when one of the staff members went up on stage and gave the announcements she talked about a missions class. She said; “This class will help you put feet to your faith!”  To my knowledge, this is the first time I heard this phrase or at least the first time it resonated with me. I liked the idea of beliefs and action coexisting, what I think, say and do being in sync.

Later I reacted to a post from someone on Facebook who’s having a rough couple of weeks. There has been progressing in the recent past but for some reason, the last month or so battles thought won were being fought again. I replied to her post; “I understand and live these “honest and ugly” truths. It’s tough, feeling like you have to start over, but I’m reminded by wisdom and therapy that we’ve grown, have learned/are learning, experienced a new normal and the starting line has been moved. We may not be where we want to be but thankfully are not where we started.”

Even when it seems like our journey is two steps forward and three, maybe five, steps back we are making progress. We ask, no plead, for the faith to keep walking, to put feet to our faith.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

How do You Feel?

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How Do You Feel?

Yesterday was my three-month check-up with the doctor in charge of the medicinal portion of my mental health plan. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder, the psychology group I go to has doctors who specialize in medical therapy and others who specialize in talk therapy. Together with the patient a plan is developed and intended to help them as much as possible.

Yesterday’s appointment was; “Meh, okay.” The therapist asked standard questions; “Are you taking your meds? How do you feel? Have you noticed any changes in mood or behavior? Any major life changes?”  I answered all of them and told her I was following my plan except for one suggestion she’s made many times. We don’t agree and I don’t think it’s a big deal. She, the professional, thinks otherwise. I told her; “Yes, I am still…” she simply replied; “You know how I feel about that!” and we kept going with the conversation. I found it humorous that’s all she has to say and it’s enough. I either have to trust her and do it or not. She’s told me the benefits and even though I don’t see them I choose to fully follow the mental health plan or not. Sigh.

We’ve all been there with people we love and care for. We give them advice about life and after a point, we decide not to tell them again and again. We let them choose and deal with the results. I’ve done this with many of the people I work with but it’s interesting, and a little uncomfortable, to be on the other side.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Behind the Eyes

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Behind the Eyes

I saw a picture of me from several years ago today. As most people, I don’t care for my photo to be taken but when it is I “grin and bear it.” Looking at the picture today the smile was there but it wasn’t genuine. There was also something missing in the eyes. There was no light behind them. They were hollow and sad. I was surrounded by friends in the photo, good friends. It should’ve been a time of stories, thankfulness, and memories but I can tell in my eyes it wasn’t any of those for me, only a blank stare and pasted smile. This was about a year before I was diagnosed with a Chronic Major Depressive Disorder.

The journey over these last years has been a hard one and there is still far to go but looking back I can see where I’ve come from and this does bring me relief. I’m not stuck in the same place even though sometimes it feels that way.

I’ve been watching a documentary titled; “The Kingdom of Us.” (https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/oct/08/the-kingdom-of-us-review-netflix-teenagers-lucy-cohen) It is the story of a family recovering from their father’s suicide. They listen to recordings of his voice, often in song, and watch videos of him and the family. They ask each other repeatedly, “Look at him! He’s so sad. Why didn’t we see it?” I know the answer; “because he didn’t want it to be seen.” We’ve all been there and done that; plastered on a smile when our hearts are breaking inside. We’ve pushed on even though everything feels broken inside.

Too often we take people’s word when we ask; “How are you?” and they reply; “Fine’ or ‘Good.” The key to discovering the truth is asking more than once and keep at it until they feel you might actually want to know.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Slowing Down

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Slowing Down

The last few days have been slooooooooooooooooooooooooooow. We’ve had overcast skies, plenty of rain and this makes for a dreary season and spirit. April showers may bring May flowers but February showers bring time to a standstill. The last few months have been long. I always have a difficult time between Thanksgiving and Easter. It’s dark when you arise and when you arrive home in the evening. The darkness that surrounds me seems to permeate my emotions. As someone with Chronic Severe Depression and a Severe Anxiety Disorder the days slowing to a crawl, mess with my balance and threaten to send me over the edge into negative thought patterns and fixations on disappointments and failures.

The balance, of course, is not letting the anxiety get in there and make my brain whirl like a drugged up hamster on a greased up wheel. Again, it is balance. I make sure the things which help me; meds, exercise, talking to others about how I’m feeling, are done and not discarded even when tempted to do so.

The balance to keep life’s rhythm manageable is an everyday if not every moment discipline. If we let it we would be either swept away in a chaotic whirlwind of activity or mired in a despondent state of surrender. Slowing down isn’t the goal but balance and mindful living are what keeps us sane and steady on the path.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Enemy Within

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Enemy Within

I had a meeting with my talk therapist yesterday. It went well. She is professional, a good listener and has a way of pointing out things I miss in life experiences. We were talking about a certain subject, one I struggle with mightily at times, and asked a question that made me think in a completely different way. She didn’t say; “Think this way.” Like a good therapist should do, she allowed me to look inside and find my way out of dark corners.

As someone with a Chronic Severe Depression disorder the battle with ruminating thoughts, anger, doubt, confusion, and fear cover my mind, emotions, and spirit like a wet blanket. Some days I can shake the blanket off of me, other days it’s like a chill in my bones and I can’t get warm. Therapy helps remind me that many of the feelings, and non-feelings, which come with depression may not be gotten rid of completely but a new thought, a burst of light, a letting go of some of the negative, can make room for hope and a willingness to continue the journey.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

a Break

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a Break

Today was the first appointment with my therapist since my father passed. We kept coming back to the theme; “It’s been a long month!” We talked about a lot of things which have happened, are happening and will happen. Responsibilities, experiences, the new normal of living life without dad and how these are impacting my chronic depression and severe anxiety. As we were wrapping up the session her words, her prescription for me was; “Give yourself a break.” In other words, take it one day at a time, don’t fixate on certain challenges, try not to do everything at once and breathe, keep yourself centered.

On the way home I was driving behind a person with a bumper sticker which read; “Of course I love you! Why wouldn’t I?” I received the message and took it to heart. We put such a demand upon ourselves to get things done, live up to expectations, not let anyone down, be what we believe we should be instead of simply accepting ourselves for who we are; imperfect people trying to do justice, love mercy and walk humbly with God and with each other.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

A Little Higher

A Little Higher

A year and a few months ago I wrote about my major depressive disorder and my attempts to begin to run again after a two-year hiatus. I also wrote, a few weeks later, about major knee pain, a visit to an orthopedic and the diagnosis that running wasn’t in my future. I tried again earlier this year and knee pain came back.

For those with depressions and anxiety, the BIG 3 in treating them are medicine therapy, talk therapy, and exercise. There are a lot of other things as well but these three are the foundation to successfully living with the disease. Without running I’ve spent the last few months trying to find another effective and somewhat enjoyable way to work out. I’ve found a few cross training videos that seem to hit the intersection.

One of the instructors on a video says the following; “Watch your posture. Imagine two balloons tied to your ears lifting you high, keeping your body straight as you do this workout.” I’ve watched the video and heard this instructor say it so often I know when it’s coming and I’m already checking my body’s alignment.

I’ve also thought about the advice in other parts of my life. Too many times I’m looking down, hunched over, not seeing the light and feeling the heat of the sun because my face is looking at the ground. Depression has this type of impact on a person. However, if I would, even on my darkest days, put those balloons on I might be surprised how looking up can help when I’m feeling down.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Thinking

Thinking

One of the easiest lessons of wisdom to learn is you are what you repeatedly think or do. One of the hardest wisdom disciplines to practice is thinking and doing good things.

Aristotle said, paraphrased by Will Durant; “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence is not an act, but a habit.” So what we keep thinking and keep doing reveals who we truly are, on the inside. We can say we are kind, loving, grace-giving, but if our thoughts and deeds betray us we must come to the reality of who we are if we desire to change or be at peace through acceptance.

For those like myself who live with depression, one of the cycles we can get into are negative thoughts about ourselves. We relive painful moments, negative events, over and over again. We get stuck with thoughts of how we could be better, how terrible we are, and how little we can offer the world and those closest to us.

Being caught in a cycle of negative thoughts, reliving mistakes and mishaps is called ruminating. For those battling depression the thoughts can literally go on for days, weeks, months. When we are doing well, on a plateau, we can catch ourselves and refuse to hop on these train of thoughts. When we are struggling our thoughts can take us down tracks from which we may never recover.

I like the Zen saying; “You can’t stop negative thoughts from coming but you don’t have to sit and serve them tea.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Fly Away

Fly Away

This morning I watched numerous birds flying around, landing on anything solid only to fly away again, seemingly without a care in the world. Birds are masters at looking as if there is nothing which tethers them to the ground, nothing that so burdens their minds they forget how to fly.

A depressive disorder has many symptoms but one of the most annoying and energy-consuming is; “ruminating.” Ruminating is thinking about something over and over. Turning it over in your mind. Looking at it from each and every possible angle and then doing the same thing again incessantly. It’s not being able to let a thought go whether it be a person, a situation (past, present, future) a fear or a source of anger. It is being tethered to and unable to allow the thought to fly away.

The quote (pictured) is a great reminder that we may be unable to stop a thought from landing in our minds but we can develop the discipline to let it go.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Carry Us in their Hearts

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Carry Us in their Hearts

“What everyone needs to know is
that someone carries us in their hearts.”

This was a line from a lecture I heard today. The subject was people who have and those who do not have a sense of being worthy and loved. It was an interesting webinar and after it was over the words above found a place in my spirit. Each of us long to be loved by someone. We want to know we’re cared for, not because someone “has to” but because someone wants to.

In my battle with a major depressive disorder, the lie the disease tells me which hurts the most is that I am unlovable. It doesn’t whisper to me that no one loves me for I know that is not true but its propaganda is far more sinister. It plants the untruth in my spirit that I am not worthy of another’s love, that people only love me because they don’t see the darkness within. If they knew the struggle to return their love, the doubts, the fears, the impulses, they would find someone more worthy of their affection and devotion.

Even those who do not grapple with an illness such as depression need to know the tenderness and intimacy of another. We all desire to “know that we are carried in the heart of others.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabsaint.com

Broke and Broken 

Broke or Broken

Someone asked me today what’s the difference between being broke and broken? It was a great question that I am still pondering.

I think being, believing, you are broke is resignation. To be broke spiritually or emotionally is to lose hope of being fixed, reset, used again. I have felt this way in the throes of an episode of major depression. When all is dark and being of any use our used again is lost to the shroud that settles, stifles and suffocates your soul.

To be broken, for me, is to still believe there is life and light to be found in the dark night of the soul. It’s not easy to find hope, purpose, any emotional or spiritual depth but somehow, someway, there’s a place in your inner most being that believes it’ll get better. These are my good days and, though they may seem disheartening to one who has not suffered from depression and anxiety, are worth celebrating.

Broke and broken. Two sides of the same coin where one is a sense of worthlessness and the other a chance for a life which is valued.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

Stuck

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Stuck

This morning I listened to a man tell a story about a time he and his wife went hiking during the fall in a National Park. He described the scenery and that he and his wife were so absorbed in the beauty they didn’t realize how late it had become. They hurried back to the car, trying to be in the vehicle before dark. They made it and then pulled out of the deserted parking lot. Unfortunately, they were met a large yellow chain hooked on two polls each side of the entrance/exit.  They weren’t sure what to do. There wasn’t enough room to drive on either side of the polls and they didn’t want to be there all night. As they sat in their car wondering who to call the wife asked a simple question; “Is there a lock? I don’t see a lock on the chain or polls.” The husband got out of the car, walked up to the chain unhooked it and went back to the car smiling at his wife’s genius. They drove through the exit and then put the chain back in place.

The man followed up his story with a reflection on how often we think we’re stuck, there’s no way out, a hopeless situation. He said that once we decide we can’t go, get or keep moving, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

I reflected on the man’s reflection and began thinking about times in my life where I thought I couldn’t go any further but by the grace of God, the kindness of loved ones and friends I was shown a way and was able to get unstuck and keep traveling the road of life. I’m thankful today for those who are smarter than me, see different from me, think in ways I don’t and can show me the way when I can’t see how to keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Enough?

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Enough?

Today is my birthday. I celebrated by getting up early this morning and going to therapy. The specialist I see is about 45 minutes from our house heading into Nashville. Depending on the amount of traffic it can take twice as long on a bad day. My gas gauge was sitting on about a quarter of a tank when I pulled out of the driveway and, running a little late, I didn’t stop to get gas. I figured it was enough to at least get me there. Then about half way through my trip on a stretch of interstate, I spied brake lights and all of a sudden I was at a full stop and stuck in traffic. That’s when the panic set in. “How long will I sit here? Will I have enough gas to make it when moving slowly or not at all?” It ended up fine and I made it to my appointment on time and put some gas in the truck before heading home.

Driving home I reflected on my therapy session and some of the issues addressed. Being my birthday I also thought about another year gone. As a person with a Major Depressive Disorder and a Severe Anxiety Disorder birthdays is a mixed bag. There is the blessing of getting through another year with the realization you have another year to get through. I am thankful for specialists and therapists, friends who encourage and understand, a family who does their best to stay beside me as I battle a disease that is incredibly difficult to understand and a wife who loves me, unconditionally and without whom I’d be lost deep in the darkest of places.

One more year on the path and enough fuel to keep going. On this birthday, I couldn’t ask for more.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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The End

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The End

Today is the end of 2016. Fittingly it is a rainy, messy, lazy, stay inside type of day. 2016 has seemed to be filled with more bad than good, negative than positive, a seismic movement towards evil leaving good behind. Even as I write the last sentence images of natural disaster, murders, political theater in the absurd, and the death of people everyone knew and those who impacted lives on a less grand scale but no less important to the ones who still mourn their loss.

Also, as I blog this post it is my understanding that not everyone sees 2016 the same way. Some people had a worse year than what I’m describing and others a wonderful year full of blessings, answers to prayer and enjoyment.

My feeling of the year which has passed is a general feeling of woe for our country and world. Myopically 2016 wasn’t a bad year. Personally, I am still blessed with the most wonderful wife a man could be married to, a job that has seen a lot of changes but an enormous amount of good done for others, a house far from perfect but feels more like home each day, and cast of good people I consider my family and friends.

I continue to pray, hope and seek help for my Major Depressive Disorder and Anxiety Disorder. For the first time, I feel my meds, therapy, and personal recovery are headed in the right direction. The diseases I fight are not and will never be easy but having people who care enough to keep fighting with you makes the battles less scary and victory more likely.

So, here’s to 2016, may it rest in peace.  2017? Here’s hoping you’re better than I’m expecting.

blessings,
BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Cleaning

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Cleaning

Today was a wasted day or a restful day depending on how you look at it. It was cloudy, cool, started raining a few hours ago and hasn’t stopped. As someone who struggles with Major Depressive Disorder, a day when not much gets done is also a day filled with battling thoughts of worthlessness and not living life to the fullest. There is the worry that a depressive episode is around the next corner which is why you didn’t get anything done which causes my anxiety disorder to kick in which is exhausting and overwhelming. These days are when I’m at the greatest risk of spiraling into the black hole of depression.

All that to say I felt something had to be accomplished today so I vacuumed, folded clothes, washed dishes, got rid of the trash while Beth was grocery shopping. It’ll help her out but it was for me more than her.

One of the most difficult things to do, when you suffer from a mental illness, is keeping your thoughts free of the dark and dirty ones which lead to no place good. It’s not easy to always stay busy or struggle with your self-worth when things don’t get accomplished. There is a middle ground, a place of balance and order but some days it’s harder to find than others.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Not too Late to Start Early

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Not too Late to Start Early

At a luncheon today myself and about twenty others sat through two presentations. The first was on the newest technology for breast exams; a 3D machine that can catch cancer 40% earlier than most of the equipment currently used in hospitals and doctors’ offices. As a husband who’s married to a wife with a history a breast cancer in her family, I was extremely interested. Breast cancer which is caught early can have a survival rate of up to 90%!

The meeting was held in the social commons area of a large funeral home and the second presentation had to do with pre-planning your funeral. The speaker gave the advice we all know to be true but would rather not think about; “We each like to think we have more time in life than what we probably have.” She then went on to speak about making a record of our basic information, preferred funeral themes, embalmed or cremation and a host of other options one can choose as their way of saying; “Goodbye.”

After the luncheon I thought about doing things early, being ahead of the game, not procrastinating. Procrastinating is not a big problem for me. My anxiety disorder tends to skyrocket when things are left undone, not finished. It’s like a gnawing in the pit of my stomach until I complete whatever is bothering me. However, there are a few things which seem to be able to slip under the radar and can be put off “until…” I don’t forget about them I’m just able to slide them on to the back burner until they threaten to boil over.

Breast exams for Beth do not fall into this category. Because of her family history with this dreaded and damnable disease I make sure she sets and keeps her yearly appointments. Funeral plans on the other hand we haven’t talked much about. We both know we’re getting older, that death comes for us all and not at the time of our choosing. Wisdom tells us to live in the present moment of today but also be aware there is an unknown tomorrow.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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How Much Does a Spirit Weigh?

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“The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord.  All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.” The Book of Proverbs, Chapter 16

How Much Does a Spirit Weigh?

This morning was my regularly scheduled session with my therapist. I wanted to leave early because traffic approaching Nashville can be hazardous and slow. I arose with the alarm and went into the living room to do my morning prayers. Following, the above verse from the book of Proverbs was stuck in my head.

I pulled out of the driveway and began the trip. Everything was going fine until my cell phone rang and it was Beth, who was on her way to work, and while listening to the radio heard there was not one but two vehicle accidents on the interstate which I was traveling. “Sigh!” Brake lights soon lit up the road in front of me and I couldn’t help but be amused at how quickly my plans fell apart. “Oh, how little control we have over anything.” I finally made it to the doctor’s office and the waiting room was already full.

I found my seat and occupied myself with my phone and the TV which was on. Minute after minute passed by and it wasn’t too long before my appointment time came, went, and still I sat in the waiting room. My plans for the morning were vanishing before my eyes and I wondered what the Lord’s answer to me would be? Perhaps, “Brian, just breathe and let go of your irritation. I know where you are and I am there with you.

Planning and scheduling my days are part of how I deal with my Severe Anxiety Disorder. It helps me break my schedule into smaller, more manageable parts. It seems innocent, “pure” as the verse from Proverbs would say, but I also recognize that the control I seek isn’t really possible and handing control over my daily existence to the One who is eternal is the only way to true peace of mind.

When my anxiety and/or depression begin to permeate my spirit it seems to get heavier and heavier until it’s an effort to do any and everything. However, when God, who knows my spirit is being weighed down by mental illness, plans, worries and a host of other things, sees me burdened he picks me up and breathes his lightness into my spirit so I can rise up and keep going.

blessings,
@BrianLoging
thewannabesaint.com

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Keep Walking

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Keep Walking

This morning, part of my devotions had this passage from Laurence Freeman, OSB;

“A brother came to his Abbott and said, ’Many distracting thoughts come into my mind and I am in danger because of them. I’m so distracted, my mind is all over the place.’  The elder took the monk out of the cell into the open air and said, ‘Open up the garments that you’re wearing and catch the wind.’  The monk replied, ’I cannot do this!’ and the Abba said to him, ‘If you cannot catch the wind, neither can you prevent distracting thoughts from coming into your head. Your job is to say not stop them from blowing in but letting your mind be open enough for the distracting thoughts to blow out as well.'”

One of the most difficult traits of having a Severe Anxiety Disorder is all of the thoughts that swirl in my mind almost every moment of every day. I believe this is one of the main reasons for my attraction to the contemplative, monastic lifestyle. I’ve read countless words of wisdom on how to still my thoughts, to try to corral them, and some work, sometimes but some days nothing does.

A picture in my Facebook feed this morning reminded me of the battle between what I desire; a calm interior with what is often anything but:

Tomorrow I go to a specialist who I’ve been seeing for almost a year. She is a nice woman, smart and understanding. She asks me how I’m feeling, how my meds are working, how I’m sleeping, how I’m doing socially, what my work schedule is like, and other, much harder, probing, deep, questions.

One of the hardest parts of seeing her is that I’m not significantly better, or better yet; cured. She knows this already, she knew this when I started seeing her. People with Chronic, Major Depressive Disorder, and Severe Anxiety Disorder don’t suddenly recover. It’s a long process and she is part of my journey, along with words of wisdom, my spirituality, meds and a host of other things.

So, I keep walking this path and enjoy the good days, endure the harder days and trust the folks who surround and support me.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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Safe Place

Safe Place

claus·tro·pho·bi·a ˌklôstrəˈfōbēə/noun, an extreme or irrational fear of confined places

When most people think of claustrophobia, they think of a person trapped in a tiny space, with no way of escape and mentally, emotionally and physically being unable to handle it. While this is part of being claustrophobic it is not all of it.
As a person diagnosed with claustrophobia, small rooms make me uncomfortable, elevators are avoided, along with any place where I do not have immediate access to an exit.

Another lesser known cause of a claustrophobic attack is being in a crowd of people and feeling like the crowd has surrounded you and is keeping you from leaving a room. I also struggle with sitting in the middle of a row of people. Again, not being able to exit immediately, if needed, is a trigger. This is why I sit at the end of a row of chairs, at the corners of tables, and remain standing if these aren’t available.

This morning we were late for church and when we arrived the place was packed! Good for the church, not so much for me. We looked for a place where I’d be comfortable but no place was found. Finally, we decided to sit near the end of a row but a few seats in. As soon as I sat down my claustrophobia and panic kicked in. I thought about getting up but Beth, seeing I was struggling, immediately put her arm around me, rubbed my shoulders and back, pulled herself close to me. The struggle was still hard but someone was there for me, helping me, bringing comfort and a sense of safety.

All of us face different struggles, some seen and others unseen. However, what we battle in our lives will never be as important as having people who stand and fight our demons with us. Folks who tell us; “I will always be with you. No matter where you go, where the path leads, you’ll always have me as a safe place.”

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com
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The Mask

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The Mask

One of the most difficult truths about mental illnesses is knowing you have no control over when and where your’s will show itself. This morning mine decided to visit just before going to church. I felt; “edgy” and distracted thoughts swirled around in my head. When I got to church the mask of; “everything is OK, nothing to see here, pleasantries for everyone” was put on before I walked in the doors and stayed before, during and after service. Like a duck on a pond, smiles and easiness on top, churning and just trying to stay afloat beneath the surface.

Having a severe anxiety disorder and clinical, chronic depression often means wearing masks. You know what’s socially acceptable, what won’t make other people uneasy, what keeps everyone balanced. You understand that when someone asks; “How are you?” You can’t unload on the unexpecting. It’s not fair to them.

So, the mask goes on, you say; “Hi.”, shake a hand, exchange a few banal words which don’t require follow-up conversation, and move on. About 3/4 through the service I noticed my arms, legs were crossed and I was hunched over a little. I thought to myself; “You’re trying to become as small as possible to avoid being seen, judged, called on, noticed.” Not that any of these things were going to happen but your emotions in the midst of an anxiety episode can be a powerful motivator. I was this way the rest of the service and when it was over I exited, wishing for invisibility.

This isn’t an isolated incident. Severe anxiety is one of many mental illnesses people live with, some more successful than others. It’s part of our lives similar to anyone with a chronic disease. You do your best to enjoy the better days, endure the hard ones and hope the meds, therapy, hobbies and other treatments prescribed mean that one day the mask is no longer wanted or needed.

blessings,
@BrianLoging (Twitter)
thewannabesaint.com

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