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The numbness is a weight on my chest. It presses down, suffocating every other thought and feeling. Giving into the blank feeling is easy.
Here there is no worry, no “what if,” no scurrying of one frantic thought after another.
I take a deep breath and will myself to feel something.
The inhalation is choked, broken, enough to make me gasp. I’m breathing but it feels like the air has been snatched away. The clawing, stifling hand of fear, anxiety, and worry wraps around my throat, cutting off all else.
Better to be numb.
Maybe I can only fake a laugh — harsh and bitter in the ears of those who know better. And maybe only the innocent think I’m thinking deep thoughts as I stare into space — instead of nothingness that surrounds me, blocking out even the sharpest tongues and kindest smiles. Maybe I can only stare at a screen as I thumb through the feed, letting the information wash over me without really seeing or caring. As unfeeling and uncaring as numbness feels, it’s better.
Because when I take that deep breath and will myself to feel, the reality lying just beneath the surface of the nothingness is too chaotic, too frantic, too much.
“Why aren’t you…”
“You’re going to fail…”
“If you can’t make yourself do this, how can…?”
My brain is my own worst enemy.
Worse are the fears and worries that can’t be so easily spoken, named, and understood. The constant, nagging cycle of anxiousness that has no focus. It’s just there, buzzing and snapping under my skin. Draining away my energy, laughing at all of my plans. Actually, no, worry doesn’t laugh…it frets. It wrings its hands, concerned in the most well-meaning way, until you can’t take the scenarios of what the worst possible outcomes (all one hundred of them) anymore and give up the fight because you can’t win.
Depression makes me detest being touched.
Anxiety makes me wonder if I’m killing my relationship because I can’t be touched.
Depression lets me hide under the covers.
Anxiety lets my brain cycle through everything that I’m fucking up by staying in bed.
Depression says, “It doesn’t matter.”
Anxiety screams, “It matters very much. Everything matters, and you’ll never get it right!”
Depression replies, “So then why bother? Better to sit here in the dark, alone, not caring than to care so much.”
Sometimes I wish they’d wrestle it out amongst themselves and let me know who wins. Am I an anxious mess who can barely function because I don’t know what the right answer is? Or do I feel nothing, care about nothing, and am willing to do nothing in the stifling numbness of depression?
It’s not all bad.
Sometimes my rational, optimist, hopeful, pragmatic side peeks through.
I tell myself I’m choosing to stay in bed all morning because I deserve the rest and relaxation. Instead of the lie depression wants me to believe.
I convince myself it’s okay to make yourself coffee and mashed potatoes at 1:00 p.m. because it’s what you crave. Instead of the nagging, “Should you really do this?” that anxiety constantly whispers.
For a brief moment I imagine what it would be like to shut down the laptop, close the accounts, turn my back on the online world I’ve created…just to show both anxiety and depression that imagining things doesn’t make them real. Thoughts can become real but they’re not automatically part of reality. Wishing doesn’t make it so, neither do frantic, terrified “what if” thoughts.
I take naked selfies that I don’t delete. I straddle John Brownstone, even though the last thing I want is his cock anywhere near me (sad but true). My butt rubs against his hand, I pout and whine, and for a few seconds, I’m myself. These are the ways I combat depression and anxiety when they war in my brain, desperate to turn me into something I’m not all in the name of some strange sense of self-preservation.
Believe me, I’d much rather fuck and be fucked by my husband while he whispers filthy things in my ear and tells me how he’s going to fill my body. I’d much rather be the frenetic woman who sits at her (new) desk, fingers flying over a keyboard, as I make thoughts into words for other people to experience with me. In a perfect world, I’d decide I want to do something…take nudes, wear make-up, post that snarky thought, tell the haters to fuck off…without worrying how much I’d fuck it all up. And instead of shutting down, going numb, living in darkness until I can cope again, I’d cry, laugh, drink wine, or whatever the hell it is people do when they’re feeling shitty and need to get themselves through it.
I know this won’t last forever. The fact that I can write about it (while eating my mashed potatoes) means I’m coming out the other side. It’s a cycle, and one that I spent weeks pretending didn’t exist. But fuck, if my anxiety and depression could hold a meeting and figure out who’s in control, maybe then I could figure out how to get myself through the next cycle without wondering if I’m truly losing my mind.