The Freedom of Coming Home

There’s a moment when you come home and you undress out of whatever clothes you wore to be out in public. It feels like you’re shedding skin. Tearing away all the little bits of day that accumulated. Whether it was a good day or a bad day, you take it all off. You put on comfy clothes and you are in a safe place. You can feel the weight of the day lifting off of your shoulders and you become clean, new, in control.

I love that feeling.

I think that’s why I love being home so much. I’m free. I can be myself. I don’t have to put on a face anymore. I don’t have to pretend like everything is okay. If I want to throw things and cry uncontrollably, I can. If I want binge watch Mr. Robot while eating a family size bag of chips, I can. I am free. Of course sometimes the outside world leaks through the cracks. You start to think about your responsibilities. You start to think about your job, your friends, whatever drama is going on whether it involves you or it doesn’t, you start to think about your future, you start to think about your past. It does come through. Sliding in right before you close the front door. It hides in the corners as you be disgusting stuffing your face with junk food or mindlessly playing video games. It sometimes emerges and taps you on the shoulder. You try to shake it but sometimes you can’t.

But within these walls, you are safe to be whoever you want to be.

Honestly after an entire day of pretending to be happy when you’re dying inside, coming home to the four walls that surround you, hidden from the world, no longer pretending. You lay out all of your mistakes and shortcomings, your flaws and your insecurities. You set them free. You lay them out on the table, sort through them a little, watch them roll around in front of you. It doesn’t matter though. You can display all of these things and it won’t matter. No one is watching. No one can see. You are free.

I am free.

Sure, you’ll wake up tomorrow and have to do it all over again, smile when you don’t want to, laugh when things aren’t funny, put your mask back on, and say “I’m fine” when someone asks how you are doing. Sure, there are days when you are truly happy and having a great day and sure, there are days when everything is falling apart but you can’t show it. Sure, it becomes an endless cycle of redundancy. Sure.

But that moment when I am home, when I do shed all of the shit from the day, I remind myself that regardless of whatever is happening, in that moment, I am free.

Living with Mental Illness: Anxiety

It’s Friday night and my friend and I have planned to go out. It was supposed to be a fun time. Time to forget about the work week and just let loose. I prepared myself because I’m only of those people who need to some fair warning before going out. I spent the entire week, pumping myself up and getting mentally ready.

The night comes and I am suddenly washed with an ominous feeling of disdain and anxiety. The week has not been kind to me but I push everything aside and tell myself that I’ve been preparing an entire week for this and my friend has been so excited for this too. So I decide to push through my emotions and go.
It doesn’t hit until I’m in the club. It’s extra crowded tonight and there are so many people. Im suddenly overcome with a field of emotions. My chest tightens and I can’t breathe.
“Not again,” I find myself whispering. My friend becomes so concerned about me. He isn’t sure if I’m going to vomit or faint. I’m crouching on the floor at this point because my claustrophobia and my anxiety is getting the best of me as if to say, “I told you so.” I promptly get up and push through the crowd and try to get some air.
I try and get back into the groove of the crowd but I can feel my body tense up every step I take. I can’t take it anymore and I ask to leave. Forcing my friend to leave with me since we came together.
Another night ruined because my anxiety got in the way. Because I wasn’t strong enough to be okay.
I wish that this was an one time thing.
I wish that I didn’t have to spend days preparing to face big crowds and be social.
I wish I could control my emotions.
But I can’t.
I have ruined so many nights because I couldn’t handle the pressure or the crowd. I’ve prevented myself from having a good time because I gave into my anxiety and depression and refused to leave.
It’s like I just can’t win.
I’m stuck.
If I do go out, my anxiety and depression overwhelms me and I can’t even stand.
If I don’t go out, I prevent myself from spending time with my friends and being social, I shut myself up from the world.
I want to go out and have a good time. I want to be able to stand in big crowds without having panic attacks.
I want to be able to be a normal human and withstand stuff like this.
People tell me that I’m just being lazy or anti social. I try and play it off, joking that I just hate people.
People tell me that depression and anxiety are just stupid excuses.
They don’t see the validity in my disease.
They don’t see the agony and pain I’m in because I just want to be normal.
I don’t want to be this way.
I don’t want little things to affect me so much that I physically can’t get out of bed.
I don’t want my anxiety to cripple me into loneliness.
I don’t want my anxiety to ruin another one of my friend’s nights.
I don’t want to cry alone in my car because I feel like a complete failure for not being able to go inside a club.
I don’t want to feel this way.
But I do.
I can’t help it.
I’m not doing this on purpose.
I just need you to know that.
Mental illness is not just in the mind.
It’s physically draining.
It’s paralyzing and it’s terrifying.
It kills you from the inside out.
It tears you apart little by little.
Tearing away at your walls and taking bits of your soul.
So when someone says that they can’t do something because of their anxiety, please try to be understanding.
I got lucky and have friends who are very understanding of my illness. I still feel terrible and broken up inside about ruining a perfectly good time.
Mental illness is just that, an illness.
Just because you can’t physically see it or can’t put a cast on it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
If you’ve never broken a bone, you can’t know what it feels like but you know that it hurts and it’s not something you “just get over.”
If you’ve never experienced mental illness, you can’t know what it feels like either so don’t tell me to just “get over it” because we are trying and it’s slowly killing us because it’s a battle that we must fight and a lot of us face it alone because we are told we are just being stupid or that it’s made up.
We aren’t.
I promise you.
We aren’t.