It has been about seven years now that I have been living on my own. And when I moved out of my ex-husband’s house and into that first post-divorce apartment, I was in rough shape. Fast forward to now. A couple of weeks ago, I told my psychiatrist that I felt like there was something that I had been chasing for the past seven years, and I had finally caught it.
You guys, I am doing really, really well.
There are two questionnaires that my therapist gives me every once in a while that are designed to measure a person’s level of depression and anxiety. My scores are approaching zero. I am not hiding from the world, sleeping all the time, or numbing my feelings with food or shopping or overworking. My thoughts are not racing or jumping around. I feel better than I have in a really long time…possibly better than I have ever felt. I am pretty comfortable saying my depression and anxiety are in remission. It feels like a miracle. In reality, it took a lot of hard work, some false starts and do-overs, the support of all of my people, and a fantastic “treatment team” to achieve something that I wasn’t convinced was actually possible. I am so grateful that no one ever gave up on me.
Now that I am not living in any kind of fog, I get to think about what I want my life to look like. And ever since I read Brené Brown’s best-selling book Braving the Wilderness, there has been a short phrase from that book that has stuck in my mind and replayed itself on occasion, kind of calling to me…
Strong back. I don’t think that needs explanation. In this weird political and social climate (I don’t even know quite how to write about this), women really have to keep their backs strong in order to avoid being run over. And it is on these strong backs that we carry our family obligations and our careers and our relationships and our causes and our beliefs and try to get it all done.
Soft front. I am not by nature, I don’t think, a very soft person. I am naturally sort of prickly, with sharp corners and rough edges, sarcastic and snarky. At least, that’s how it used to be. But as the constant background noise of my sometimes crippling anxiety started to fade and the heavy weight of depression began to lift, I went from being someone who could not figure out how to cry to being someone who sought out those in need of comfort in order to sit with them and share their sorrow. I went from being a non-hugger to being someone who always aimed to “hug like you mean it.” I went from being someone who listened with half an ear while planning out my reply (which, by the way, is not really listening) to being someone who could sit and listen to someone as long as she needed me to. It feels so much better.
Wild heart. I’m not there yet. I still listen a little bit when someone thinks I can’t do something. I am not so big on adventure and still would rather spend my time alone at home. But I can see that the world is bigger than my living room, and I might start exploring a bit more. My heart may get a little more wild and start seeing what else is out there.