Photo by Christy Zigweid
If you’ve spent any amount of time looking through my website, you will see I am a supporter of mental illness and advocacy. I also write fiction and blog posts that are hard to read because of their honesty. Why do I do this? Because I believe people shouldn’t have to suffer in silence.
As I write this I am very aware of the ripple effects it may have. But I've lived in silence too long and now it’s time to share my story.
It’s time to step out of hiding and say “You can’t hold me down anymore. I will fight you each and every time, even if every time you make it harder and harder to crawl out.” I am not my illness.
I’ve battled depression and generalized anxiety disorder for many years (I was diagnosed in high school). I have worn the mask, hiding my illness from people, afraid if I let on just a little bit I was struggling, my friends and family would suffer. I live with darkness and suicide every day. It's a battle I’ve learned to manage. I sit with myself often, enduring the self-loathing my illness projects onto me, waiting until it passes. Sometimes that’s a few hours; sometimes it's days.
Yes, I’ve been there, staring suicide right in the face.
And while I know this will be hard for many to read (especially my family), it is a truth of my everyday life.
In my times of utter despair, I have to remind myself what I’ll be leaving behind if I go through with it. All I have to do is picture my husband and kids and while the power to give up overwhelms me, I hold on to that ONE thing. Because it’s my family who keeps me here. It’s my closest friends who remind me how much I’ve touched their lives, or their children’s lives, just by being me. Those are the things I hold on to. Those are the things that eventually pull me out and bring me back into what’s real.
Through the years my husband and I have learned to deal with the ups and downs, the good days and the bad.
We’ve worked out a system and we trudge on, knowing the downs will come again, but being better prepared each time for when they hit. This is why I am a supporter of mental health advocacy, suicide awareness, and suicide prevention.
Without the support of my husband, I don’t know that I would be here today writing about my story. My illness is very scary for those around me as well as for myself.
My husband only wants to help but often doesn’t know how. My children see the effects but don’t understand why mom is “sad” or “freaked out.” It’s hard watching your family struggle and knowing you are partially the cause. It’s scary sitting with your own thoughts, part of you knowing they are lying and part of you knowing they are not. It’s hard to sort through the truth and the lies.
I am learning to know myself better as a writer and as a person. And while I’ve been denying the truth about sharing my story, I've hindered progress in taking the right steps to move forward. Some people believe we have a “calling” in life. While I do not believe we have a pre-determined path to our lives, I do believe in fate. I do believe we are all here for a reason. I was born nearly three months early and weighed two pounds two ounces. At the time of my birth, hospitals were just figuring out how to care for premature babies. I survived.
I survive today, despite my illness telling me I have no purpose here. I will never be “cured,” just as someone with a chronic illness will tell you. But I can share my story with others. I can own my illness as part of me but not all of me.
I can continue to take care of myself and live out this “calling” I feel compelled to do.
I also credit people who have helped me step out on this limb. My husband, my very close friends, my writing group friends, a group called “This is My Brave," and Conquer Worry. These people have opened my eyes to the fact I don’t have to live in silence anymore, pretending to be something I am not.
My illness is only a part of me. I am a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, and a human being. Do I have flaws? Absolutely, but they don’t define me and they are not “all” of me.
THIS POST ALSO APPEARS AS A GUEST POST ON CONQUERWORRY.ORG
No material on this website can be used without permission. All Rights Reserved. Christy Zigweid - 2017
**I am not a licensed counselor nor a medical doctor and the views on this website are solely mine. **
If you are in crisis and need immediate medical assistance, call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273- (TALK) 8255 or text "Start" to 741-741