As an individual with an OCD/anxiety diagnosis I have functioned as a wife, sister, daughter, friend, community member, and teacher.
I haven’t lost my job. I haven’t gotten a divorce. My friends and family haven’t abandoned me. AND, I KNOW with out a doubt that my story has been used to help liberate others to tell theirs. There cannot be light without darkness. They only exist because of each other. I have decided to step into the light and out of the darkness to help liberate others.
Sometimes the only strand of hope I had was looking forward to seeing a friend that week or coming home to the comforting arms of my husband. Their were also days when I couldn’t muster up the courage to see anyone, have a conversation, or work out. Yet, once I showed up, I was so grateful to be there.
Now that my story has been published, so many co-workers have approached me with “I had no idea..!” They had no idea that for 2 entire months of the 2014 school year I ate an average of 10 entire meals, and had 1 full night of sleep. They had no idea that for 2 YEARS everything around me looked blurry and felt like a fog.
One of the best things for me in these darkest months of my entire life were distractions. I used to LOVE the weekend. During this life season, weekends were awful. They were unfilled hours that could cause my mind to race.
During these months of intense agony and anxiety I kept going forward by remembering two things:
1. “This too shall pass.”
It felt like it was never, ever going to get better, but now I have difficulty even recalling some of those awful, awful days.
2. I need you. You need me, we are all a part of God’s body.
I love teaching and “my kids” were my biggest motivation. They are funny, innocent, and filled with love. I’m also thankful for an incredibly supportive circle of friends and a loving/grace filled family. If you don’t have supportive friends or family, consider joining a support group.
I wore this crazy Christmas tree dress to work one day during my two darkest months.
One of my students went home and told her mom “Mrs. Adair looked like the most beautiful woman in the entire world today.” You might feel like you were swept up by a tidal wave, but someone else sees you as the most beautiful person in the entire world, even in your struggle and pain.
3. If you find yourself in the darkness of crippling anxiety or depression and you think you might not be able to function I have a few suggestions:
Find something that gives you a glimmer of hope (volunteering, spending time with family, taking a walk, coloring, visiting to a pet store, watching a funny YouTube video, WHATEVER it is that will give you a GLIMMER of hope.)
Do not be afraid to tell people that you trust an honest answer to “how are you?” Tell them “Look, I actually need help, I’m having a hard time.” Don’t hide behind the mask of “I’m fine.”
For friends and family- when you hear someone telling you they are having a hard time – it’s not your job to be their counselor. Ask your loved one if they have seen a professional about their struggles. Keep healthy boundaries, but make sure the people you love are getting the help they need.
If you are going through the desert, try your very, very, very best to show up for things- family events, friends events, work. Many of these events will be the water you need while in the dry land of depression/anxiety.
You are deeply loved. You are not alone. You are worthy of love and belonging.
Fall down 7, stand up 8.
I have survived 100% of my toughest days.
So have you.