I missed Fun Fact Friday. A tradition I started one week ago… I can’t even show up for week two! We’ll work on that… In my defense, I had a lot going on Friday! I worked from 7:30-12:30, and we were down three people in the office all morning. Can you say busy?! Then, I went to Prairie Meadows to cheer on some coworkers in the Truck Driving Championship. Ended up going out for a beer with some of my office girls, which ended up being two beers and some pretzel bites. Brian had a gig later that night at a winery about 45 minutes from home.
My fun fact this week isn’t necessarily fun, but it’s something I’ve been wanting to share to hopefully help other people. This “fun fact” explains so much about who I am as a person and why I’m so passionate about so many things, particularly my health.
I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and prescribed anti-anxiety medication at the ripe age of about 10. A doctor, who knew nothing about me personally, told a child that she had a disorder and put her on medication before she was old enough to know what a disorder was. The only thing I got from this little trip to the doctor was the realization that I was different and could now find out why.
Did you read how old I was when this happened? Ten. I don’t even honestly remember my exact age, but I was old enough to subconsciously remove parts of this memory from my mind. I think it’s very painful for me – to think that someone told a child that she was different, that she should be put on medication, that she was obsessive.
I was obsessive; I am obsessive. I’m not contradicting that; I twisted strands of my hair for hours until my hand cramped and chewed the skin off of my fingertips. I’m contradicting this: the only fix was a pill that made me feel worse than the anxiety did. Sure, I worried about stuff in what eventually seemed to be an out-of-the-ordinary way. I certainly had to do things in a particular order or count to three before I could write a letter “o,” but I never knew (or needed to know) that I was different until people started telling me that I was. Unfortunately, they started telling me that very early on.
I grew up under an umbrella of the term obsessive-compulsive. I don’t know exactly when my “obsessions” started, but I can tell you the story of the one that made the most impact on the people around me. Again, I was around the ages of 10-12. Do you remember The Adventures of Mary-Kate and Ashley? They had books and movies. Well, I’ve been a reader my whole life, and I had just about every one of those Mary-Kate and Ashley books. They each came with these little postcards of the Olson twins, and for years, I wouldn’t wear anything that didn’t look like something they were wearing in those pictures. I kept every single one of the photos in a backpack or purse, and, when shopping with my mom, I would walk around and specifically look for clothes that resembled what Mary-Kate and Ashley were wearing. I refused to wear anything else. When I found something that was what I was looking for, I’d wear it as often as I could. I think that was the first phase of my personality crisis.
I didn’t know who to be or how to act back then, because I thought there was absolutely no way I could be myself. I didn’t even know who “myself” was, because I was trying so hard to not be that obsessive, anxious person that everyone was coining me to be.
This all followed me to college, where I had to make a new life for myself. I was a kid from a small town who literally had the same friends for ten years and didn’t know who she was without them. I had no persona of my own, no real thoughts of my own. The first really good decision I made in my life was going to college away from everyone else. I attended a small business school in Des Moines where I knew no one.
I’m glad I tried to make my own way, even though I failed miserably at first. What happened? Well, I went to college and had no friends, which was not something I was used to. I didn’t know how to make my own friends, because all of my friends growing up had essentially been made for me. I ended up hating college; I was going to fail out, so I ended up dropping out altogether. I became unsure of myself, moved back into my parent’s house, and was working part-time as a server.
During this time, I worked nights. I was usually working from 5:00 pm to anywhere from 11:00 pm to 1:00 am. I worked less than 30 hours a week, I had no hobbies, and I spent all of my time outside of work asleep. I became so depressed that I couldn’t even get myself out of bed in the morning. I would get home from work late at night, watch Nick-at-Nite until about 5:00 am, sleep until two in the afternoon, and get up for work again. It was a vicious cycle.
At some point, I became very aware of my lethargy and depression. I finally confided in my mom and ended up going to the doctor again. This doctor also told me I had anxiety disorder and gave me pills. I will give you my advice: Don’t go to the doctor that’s the most convenient for you; go to the doctor you trust. The doctor I went to in 2013 for my depression could not get me out of his office fast enough. I took his anti-anxiety pills for a month; I didn’t refill my prescription because I didn’t want to have to talk to him again.
You should never feel uncomfortable talking about depression. It’s a very real, raw, and scary topic. I was never made to feel secure with my state of mind until recently, and I have surpassed an immense amount of darkness before getting to this sense of security.
My point is this:
I no longer take any medication other than birth control (for obvious reasons). I will never again rely on a pill to stabilize my mental well-being. I have turned to food, exercise, my relationship with myself, and sleep to get me through the tough days. There will always be tough days; if there weren’t tough days, there would never be good days. I do not let anxiety define me. I have talked myself through countless panic attacks, through broken hearts, and through scary moments; but I have never said “This is just who I am.” It’s not who I am. It’s not who any of us are. Yes, I feel things very strongly, and when I get scared, there’s not a bold enough word to describe the panic I feel. But I do not have a disorder; I am not depressed. I am passionate about everything, and I’m strong on the inside and out. I can get through anything, and I won’t let a medical term define the rest of my life.
Fun Fact Friday is supposed to be and will actually be a FUN FACT in the future, but this topic is something I’ve been needing to talk about for a long time. It’s something I don’t like to discuss, because I’ll admit that I don’t like to feel vulnerable. If this helps just one person today, I will be glad that I decided to put it all out there. Mental health needs to be taken very seriously; I have to make an effort to work on mine every single day. I hope you all decide to take that time for yourself daily as well.
I appreciate you all for reading my posts, be they fun, truth, or both.