How Bad is Too Bad?

 Photo by davide ragusa on Unsplash

One reason I waited so long before talking about my anxiety is because I always felt like I was tee-totaling on the edge of a cliff. I was managing...but barely.

Did I feel normal? No.

Did I feel safe inside my own head? No.

Did I feel bad, a lot of the time? Yes.

But I was getting through life. I had some good days, some happy memories.

So I thought that it couldn't possibly be too bad because hey, I was dealing right? I was dealing poorly, and I was sad, but I was doing stuff and my husband was happy and my kid was loved and my bosses are happy with my performance and I was volunteering at church and I was getting good grades in my classes so must be okay.

Our culture kind of downplays this stuff. You almost have to hit rock bottom before people really address it. And that was really hard for me.

I am a big believer in prevention. But I didn't know how to address this. I didn't know when I was crossing the line. I felt like I was trying to tell people that I was unhappy- but it apparently didn't come off as anything more than general life stress. In my heart though, I knew it was more than that.

I have a tattoo that I got after Hubby came home from Iraq. It has bamboo reeds, because I read that bamboo symbolizes strength. Bamboo reeds bend and sway with pressure, which is what allows them to withstand so much. They bend, but they do not break. That is how I felt during the deployment, that is how I felt during much of my early 20s. I was emotional and confused but I was enduring it all.

It was different after I had Babycakes.

I didn't feel strong. I felt brittle. I felt used, and cracked, and dried out, and like I was going to break at any moment. 

On the outside though, I looked the same apparently. I was juggling it all, and getting it done. The best example I can give, although it is not the same at all, is it was kind of like a functioning alcoholic. You hear stories about people who manage to make it through work and social events and it's only at home that you see how truly out of control they are. That is how it felt, only the "home" in this case was my head. It was all internal.

Even now, after being on my medication for a few weeks and having given myself some downtime in many other ways, Hubby can't tell a difference. I asked him, and he was very clear that it seemed to make almost no difference that he could tell. Maybe slightly less stressed, but overall my actions and attitude doesn't seem to be altered.

Which is crazy, because in my head it's super different. 

And to be clear, Hubs absolutely stepped up and supported me 100%. He took over some things that I just couldn't handle, he didn't question a thing when I finally clearly stated how bad it was, he never made me feel guilty or ashamed or showed any negative feelings in any way. He just rolled with it.

But he said something, with the best of intentions, that made me think. He commended me for being honest, for continuing to manage my responsibilities, and for not turning to booze/drugs for self-medication like so many other people. And again, this was a sincere compliment.

But it bummed me out. Because that shouldn't be the bar. 

Rock bottom shouldn't be the bar.

And it's hard, because people try to be supportive and go "Oh you'll be fine, you'll adjust, you're doing great."

Now that I've finally admitted exactly how bad it is though, I have to SHUT THAT DOWN. Yes, it will get better- if I make changes. I have to say "No, this not healthy for me and it's not going to continue." It may come off rude, but it's also kind of rude to assume that a person's problems are tumbleweeds instead of mountains.

I don't want to suffer through my life. I don't want to teach my daughter to feel awful, for the sake of not bothering other people with her problems. That is a terrible life.

I don't want to sadly wait for one more stressful event to be the one that wipes my sanity away. 

When we were fostering, my dad made a comment. He said it was a great thing to do, but you had to be willing to turn your life upside down. And I realized, in that instant- my world could not handle being flipped upside down.

My world was no longer a snow globe, which could be shaken up and then slowly settled back down. My anxiety had transformed it into a table set with the most delicate china, and the slightest bump would send it all crashing down. It might have looked beautiful from the outside...but it was no way to live.

I still don't know where that line is. All I know is...I've crossed it. At some point, I crossed it. And if my line is closer than yours, or farther...that's okay.


  1. ::applauds::

    This is fantastic. "Rock bottom shouldn't be the bar." Thank you so much for sharing all of the ups and downs of this, and showing how it really can be invisible. Others might not see the difference, but YOU do, and you took steps to prevent things from getting worse. You're amazing!

  2. Acknowledgement is always the first step forward, but fffaaaccckkk it's the hardest. We've talked at length about this and our conversations made my struggles feel less like MY problem and more like a shared problem more people that myself have to deal with. Not that this is good for others, but it's less isolating, which always helps.

    I really do like the bamboo symbolism.