Hey. How ARE You?

Dear You,

Hey. How are you?

No, no. I mean how ARE you? For real. You can tell me. No matter how silly or small you think it is, you can tell me. Because, you see, no feeling or anxiety is trivial because it’s all relative. Relative to your life, your circumstances, your surroundings, your upbringing, your opportunities, your failures, your everything. Even if your A, B, and C are vastly different than mine, it doesn’t matter. Because I know you and your circumstances, and I know that nothing you feel should ever be scoffed at or brushed off because you “have it so good” otherwise or “have no reason to feel these things.”

You have every reason because you’re a human being with complex, all-consuming, and incredibly confusing emotions. And emotions are meant to be felt and sorted through and talked about and dealt with. Not sat upon, pushed down, suffocated, and ignored. That’s when we get into real deep trouble.

You have every reason because you work and it’s stressful. You have relationships, romantic and not, to uphold and nurture. To tend to like the most fickle of house plants. You have children to raise and the thought of making one misstep in the process and creating a less than stellar human being makes you queasy at night. You have insecurities that you’ve dealt with for most of your life that sometimes manifest in unnerving ways that you can’t seem to control. You have bills to pay that are overpriced and unfair and never go away. You have a lot going on no matter how much more or less everyone else seems to have going on, too. And each of us are built a very specific way to only be able to handle so much and when we get pushed to the brink of that, we react AKA emotions.

Some of us naturally have a tight grip on handling the stress, anxiety, depression, and anger that comes in the box set of life. We know exactly what works for us, what the magic formula is to keep our emotions and negative thoughts at bay. Some of us, however, need help to tighten that grip but we hate admitting that. We hate succumbing to the idea that we are incapable of dealing with our emotions and thoughts in a “natural” way. We might think ourselves weak or hopelessly helpless that we can’t self correct with a bit of exercise, clean food, and meditation. When the storms, funks, or episodes come, we bear down as hard as we can with little to no help because chalking this up to just another bad moment is easier than facing how deep it may run. But we’re doing it all wrong.

I am not a therapist. I am not a doctor. I’m Emma, and I’ve suffered from anxiety as long as I can remember. It’s not social; just general. I am a master storyteller, making up so many in my mind about particular situations that I am able to drive myself into a deep, dark, convincing hole until I believe the lies I’m telling myself. I am an empath — I feel e.v.e.r.y.t.h.i.n.g. And sometimes it’s great, but sometimes it SUCKS. I am prone to depressive tendencies if my anxiety bests me, but especially around my period because I suffer from PMDD, Premenstrual Dysmorphic Disorder. In short, I am INTENSE but I come by it honestly.

I have dealt with all this in various ways throughout my young adult years to now, and what works for me is prescribed anti-depressants. And I am not ashamed of that. It doesn’t make me less of a person — it makes me strong AF. It doesn’t numb me — TRUST. I STILL FEEL E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G. But the things I feel I am better able to handle because of my medicine. I have a chemical imbalance that runs in my family. That’s the card I was dealt, and honestly? It’s a pretty fucking legit card to be dealt in this day and age. I have a great life with endless things to be grateful for and feel happy about, but I also have a brain that tends to skew a bit negative and needs a medicinal nudge and I know that and I take care of it and it helps.

On this Mental Health Day, I wanted to write you this note to ensure you know just how valid your reasons and feelings are. That you have every right to address them and, if necessary, shamelessly seek help for them. Talk to a doctor or trusted confidante. Sign up for a talk therapy appointment. Try healthy habits. Explore the option of medicine. You have every opportunity to do the best you can for your brain and well being, so you should. And once you find something that works, own it and stick with it. Maintain it just as you maintain your exercise routine, your job, your relationships. Because this life is too short to go through it suffering and to minimize that suffering when there are ways to alleviate it, treat it, and help it. So help yourself to some help, you strong, beautiful bitch.