St. Jane Media is hosting memoir-style blog posts from our community. This post is by Kaitlyn J., a Ph.D candidate living in the Tidewater area of Virginia. New posts in this series will be published at our contributor blog and our Twitter feed.
Lately I have been struggling with well… Everything.
Writing about the way I feel seems to help me cope with my mental illness, and I hope that if anyone reads this, they will see that they are not alone. I don’t plan to use this blog regularly to talk about mental illness, but it will come up, as it is a part of who I am. I hope to be both thought provoking and funny, when appropriate. I will write about what makes me, well, me.
So, family, graduate school, cats (who doesn’t love cats?!), and whatever else comes to mind. I hope you’ll enjoy!
I am an ambitious person stuck inside a depressed woman’s body.
“How can you say you’re depressed?”
“You seem fine, you’re just stressed.”
“What do you have to be anxious about?”
These are (rude) questions that people have asked me, and that I have even asked myself. I am 26 years old, newly married, mother to a beautiful 5 year old, a PhD candidate, my life is seemingly perfect.
But that’s the thing about depression and anxiety. They wage a war against you and against themselves. A war no one can see or understand.
My depression keeps me back from things I crave to do: going to the gym, cleaning my house, studying, working on my blog, spending time with my family… The list goes on and on. And when I don’t do these things that I truly want to do because my crippling desire to stay in bed all day has won…. I FEEL WORSE. Meaning, I feel like a failure which makes me even more depressed, which further keeps me from fulfilling these goals. It is a downward spiral that I don’t know how to save myself from.
I once read (disclaimer: on an internet meme) that anxiety is caring too much, and depression is not caring at all, and having both is like hell. This is extremely accurate. I’m constantly creating scenarios of things I want to do in my mind and then tearing them apart with my anxiety that everything will go wrong. Fighting with yourself on a daily basis is exhausting. When I’m not trying to hide from one part of my brain, I’m hiding from the other.
I don’t let my mind win every day. I do not and will not let my mental illness define me. I am instead defined by my immense love for my husband and daughter, my passion for studying environmental policy, my love of cats, crosswords, board games (speaking of board games have you ever played Ascension? its kickass), politics, kickboxing, and participating in obstacle course 5ks. There are days where I struggle to get off the couch or out of bed to do even the things I love, but these bad days are not outnumbered by the days that I get up, get dressed, and take on the world.