Masks

Every morning my husband wakes me to tell me goodbye before he leaves for work. While he gathers his things, I stumble my way down stairs to pour myself coffee, give him one last kiss, and tell him to have a good day and I love him. After he leaves, I grab my coffee and head back upstairs to plop right back in bed. I usually just sit there for a few minutes, trying to process my thoughts and mood. I think of it as a time to pick what mask I will wear that day. At times, even picking out a mask is daunting. Why wear a mask? Because I suffer from anxiety and depression and society doesn’t understand how to react to it.

Anxiety is the most common mental illness; and about half of those people also suffer with depression too. There are many types of anxiety. I have found that many people do not understand what actual anxiety or depression is. Many times, I have confided in someone about my illness and they respond with, “Yeah, I get anxiety and depression too.” There is a difference. Some people just experience periods of anxiety and/or depression while going through a tough patch of life. Then after the rough patch is over, the stressor is removed; they are back to normal and able to function. I, on the other hand, wake up every day to a different degree of anxiety over something, depressed about something. Most of the time, I don’t even know why I feel the way I do. I’ve been told to “just get over it” or “you’re just negative”. Well, I wish I could; I wish I could make myself be positive. That’s where the masks come in. Some days I can put on a happy mask and fake my way through the day. Other days I cannot force a mask, my anxiety is incredibly heightened and the depression sets in soon after.

Those days I become a recluse, I hide in my house. My favorite hobbies seem to require to much effort. I know I am short tempered, rude, and unpleasant to be around. I’m weepy, tired, headaches come and go, and my body aches. And I have no idea what triggered it, which makes it worse. It doesn’t last just a day either. It can be a week or two, or even a month. I come to expect it around certain times of the year; like when we are doing a lot of traveling for holidays or disruption of my regular schedule.

There are several ways to manage the anxiety and depression. There is medication, therapy, and relaxation techniques. Currently, I am not on medication or therapy; but I have some techniques. First, I start my day in prayer and devotion. I blast uplifting Christian music the entire day. I force myself to exercise, run, or yoga. When I start to feel the negativity to build up, the negative voices speak up; I combat them by naming positive things out loud. I avoid sad music, books, shows/movies, and social media. I try to figure out what is my stressor and remove it. For instance, with Christmas quickly approaching; my anxiety is sky high. I feel so overwhelmed with unfinished chores. I cry because I’m tired, angry, and crying. However, I repeat that although things may not get finished or go according to plan, I have to react positively and not shut down. Christmas is coming no matter what. I constantly repeat this. I pray for guidance and strength. I schedule an afternoon nap during my daughter’s nap to combat the tiredness and headaches. Yesterday, was a difficult day for me. It seemed the day just got worse and worse, mainly just not going my way and rude people. Although I had pressing things to do, I went for a run. I turned on my Slacker app to my Christian station; and it was like God was speaking to me through music. Every song was what I needed to hear. These are a few that really hit me:

Casting Crowns – Does Anybody Hear Her / for King & Country – Fix My Eyes / Big Daddy Weave – Redeemed / Citizen Way – How Sweet the Sound / tobyMac – Burn For You / Passion – One Thing Remains

Even today, I was still in my funk. I immediately began playing my music. Again, I was reminded how much I depend on Jesus, how blessed I am, how much my daughter needs me to function, and that many others have it worse than me. Tomorrow, when I ponder my mask, I will choose a happier one than today’s. If you struggle with anxiety and depression, I hope you can find the device that keeps you floating above the deep waters of negativity. Do you have any techniques that uplifts your mood to help you function through the day?

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