Friendly mental health awareness PSA: High functioning anxiety and depression can still look like this. So much can be hidden by a smile and bright colors. That isn’t to say that I wasn’t experiencing a lot of joy during this specific moment, but I’m coming out of a few very dark months. I feel compelled to share in case someone needs a flashlight and a reminder that they aren’t alone in their dark and twisty time. Also, I would like to share the “why” for anyone who may have noticed that my energy has been off. I haven’t been writing, I haven’t been out and social except when necessary. Maybe no one has noticed, since I continue to post my sparks of joy on social media. Whoever did or didn’t notice doesn’t matter; I’m in a better place and sharing helps me move forward.
Facebook reminded me that two years ago today, I committed to the marathon training journey. That journey brought me to the most epic finish line, followed by the swift end of my marriage. Looking at that picture, I don’t recognize myself. I’m not referring to the physical change of being over 20lbs lighter with longer (rainbow) hair. The last two years have brought so much change beyond the physical ones. Looking back on that photo, I realize that I have either lost or discarded the majority of what made me “me” during that point in my life. At the end of this summer, I felt like I had emotional whiplash from the rapid and extreme changes that 2018 brought.
For most of 2019, I have been able to stay distracted and moving forward while I was learning my new job. I could go, go, go. I taught myself new skills. Everything was new and exciting. Change was fantastic and welcomed! I was introducing myself to people who didn’t know that I had ever been married, and that was incredible. Then the summer happened.
My Yosemite adventure forced me to disconnect and reflect on the changes of the last year and the direction of my future. I’m not the girl from that Facebook photo two years ago, because I’m allowed to be myself now. I don’t have to waste energy fighting for someone’s love and attention while he is secretly giving it to someone else. Then that feeling of emotional whiplash showed up when I returned from Yosemite. It was not something that I was quite prepared to handle.
On the surface, things were going great! I just had the adventure of my life, working at my dream job, living at the beach, etc. There was no reason from the outside looking in for me to be having these dark emotions. A perspective that ultimately made the darkness feel even darker. When I reached out to people close to me, I would get the well-intentioned “you’ll be fine; look how great everything is!” So I mostly stopped reaching out.
A big weight that I was struggling with when I came back from Yosemite was that the divorce process sped up with increased pressure due to my ex’s serious relationship paired with military orders taking him out of state. I had huge decisions with my divorce agreement to make in a short timeframe. The process was ugly and weighed heavily. I just wanted it to end, but I also didn’t want to settle for less than what I deserved. There was no way to “win.”
While I was processing and trying to make decisions that will affect me for the rest of my life, I got to the point where I couldn’t handle any new changes. Then the training team ended for good. Oof! Just like that, the only thing that felt constant from my pre-divorce days was gone. If I was already spiraling before that with the pressure from the divorce process, that was the moment when I stood still to avoid a complete crash. I had to stand still to keep from going backward. I started pushing people away and avoided making new personal connections. This wasn’t the “me” I wanted people to meet. Who was I to feel discomfort in the kick-ass life I created for myself? I couldn’t handle the idea of introducing something new when nothing felt genuinely familiar. So, I numbed out and clung to what was easy and comfortable, even if it wasn’t healthy or particularly joy-inducing. I stayed like that for weeks.
The first week of November, things finally started feeling lighter and more manageable. The papers were finally signed! The battle was over; now it’s just procedure. These last few weeks, since signing the agreement, I have felt like the dust is finally settling. I can move forward again. I’ve started saying yes again and putting myself out there. Possibly most importantly, I’ve cut out the person that I was closest with who was encouraging comfort instead of growth. That has been very painful since my inner-circle is already an intimate one, but now I wish I had done it sooner. I’m replacing the negative habits I was developing with healthier ones that motivate me and make me excited for the future again.
I know that moving forward opens you up to more change, but I’m finally feeling up for it and excited about the inevitable changes that life will bring. If you haven’t felt the joy from me recently or if I’ve been flaky and non-committal. I’m sorry for that. It hasn’t been my brightest time.
This was supposed to be an Instagram post, not a long blog post. I feel good sharing my humanity and asking for patience, understanding, grace, and forgiveness.
Everyone has a story, and this is part of mine. I’m moving forward again. If you made it to the end of this wordy and emotionally revealing post, I hope you’ll be moving forward with me.