Addiction is a liar. It tells you to numb yourself when things get too stressful. It tells you no one will know and you it will help you out. That one drink or one fix won’t make any difference. That you really are funnier, happier, and better off when you are using. It’s not really “addiction,” you just enjoy the feeling now and then. It’s not going to effect your life. Addiction is a liar.
Anxiety is a liar. It tells you things really are that bad. It tells you the panic you feel is justified. That you may not know why you feel anxious but you should “listen to your gut” because bad things could happen. That you may be right about there not being enough oxygen in this room for everyone. That you shouldn’t go to that event because you won’t fit in, will be laughed at, or that you really don’t belong there and everyone will know it. Anxiety is liar.
Depression is a liar. It tells you that you are not worthy. That you don’t really matter even to the people who say you do. That if you disappeared, it wouldn’t make a difference to anyone. That people would be better off without you and your broken self. It tells you the darkness will last forever and you’re not strong enough to come out of it. It tells you that you are alone and no one understands you. It says it won’t get better. It tells you that even if you did share your desperation, no one would understand and it would only make things worse. Depression is a liar.
If you know anything about me, you know I have no problem talking about the fact that I am a recovering addict. And? I’ve addressed anxiety and having panic attacks before. I have absolutely no problem talking about those two things. I will share my stories. I have shared my tips on how to conquer them when you feel as if they are strangling you. I have shown you ways to see that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and signs to recognize that you will come out of it. (And be stronger and feel happiness when you come through it.)
But depression? Oh hell no! Don’t talk about that one. It is “t-a-b-o-o.” Depression means crazy. It means sick. It means you are weak and probably a drama queen. (Lies.) But what I learned about addiction and anxiety is when you talk about them and share your story not only do you help yourself and others but you take away the power it holds over you. When kept in the darkness, those things can set up camp in your mind and become more powerful than they deserve.
So I am sharing with you. (Because I want to take away its power.)
I’ll be honest. I never really dealt with things the way I should have after my Mom died. Hell, I didn’t deal with things as I should have during the six months prior to her dying while she was in the hospital. But life doesn’t stop just because your world feels like it fell apart. It doesn’t even pause. Life moves on. And so did I. There were some big life changes that happened in the years that followed. Big or small, good or bad, I pushed them down into the vault where I would deal with them on the surface but never really deal with them. Then in the Spring of 2010, I hit a breaking point. You see, that year I did something I never thought I would do. I stepped up into a job that I wanted to do out of passion but knew I would need the support of friends. At the time, these friends swore they would be there to help. People who said they cared and said they were there for me in truth were not. As it turns out, those “friends” very viciously and publicly turned on me and stabbed me in the back. Now, the Jenn who took drug addiction and kicked its ass would have stood up and fought back. She would never have just backed off and allowed the malicious intent of toxic people to spread rumors, lies, and downright try to ruin me. But that Jenn was buried under so many other issues in life that she couldn’t take this one on. And they broke my heart. My spirit. Me. I broke. I watched and just let things happen that shouldn’t have happened. I chose to sink deeper into myself rather than stand up to the bullshit around me. I let people who wanted to believe the crap that was being hurled believe it. And those who knew me or truly wanted the truth, I told them. It was a rough year following that. I isolated. But on the plus side, I truly saw who was toxic and who were bullies and who really didn’t need to be in my life. I made new friends who saw the truth. But really? I just didn’t have it in me to face this all head on. The broken parts of me were too broken to handle it. And life became too busy for me to truly deal with everything. My family needed me. That summer was just a time where more bits of me were broken off. But I had responsibilities that I couldn’t put off. So I moved on.
Of course during all of this I did the worst possible thing I could do: I isolated and refused to shed light on the broken parts. As a recovering addict, I know if I am struggling with addiction, I have to talk to someone. I have to tell someone the lies I am believing so they can show me what is real. When I am struggling with anxiety, I have learned I need to talk to someone who has been there who can show me that I will be okay and how to push through it. It always shatters the lies I was believing and helps me through because they show what is a lie and what is real.
But with depression? I stay silent. I always have. If anything, I minimize it and just say I am a bit down.
I got through that hard time with friends who really were friends and who loved me for me. Did I ever deal with it as I should have? Not really. And life moves on.
I could see the ebb and flow of depression and I dealt with it the best way I knew how. I started to become me again and was happy and enjoyed time with my family and my friends and life felt right again.
Obviously, as a recovering addict, I don’t really have the best coping skills. (Duh!) But I have learned (as best I can) to live life on life’s terms. I can’t change other people. I can’t make anyone be someone they aren’t or do something they don’t want to do. That’s just a fact. Good things began to happen in my life this summer. Things that make me so happy! One of my closest friends moved back to town after 3 years. I was able to spend an amazing few days in NYC with some of my dearest friends laughing, crying, being myself. Truly and without apology being myself. (That is rare but oh so needed to be around people where I feel as if I can truly be myself and am loved in spite of it. Maybe even because of it.)
And a couple of weeks ago things changed. Someone I love broke a promise to me and it was the straw that broke the camel’s back. And it threw me into a darkness unlike any I have been through before….
(This is becoming quite long so stick with me, take a break and then go read part II)