I've stayed clear of doctors for most of my life. If I wasn't having a baby or getting my birth control prescriptions filled, I've managed to steer far away from the practice. Overall, I've been generally healthy for most of my life. Both physically and, I would like to think, mentally. However, as I've grown into my adulthood, I've begun to realize something that I've always tended to ignore. There are different forms of anxiety and depression. Some that, even to those who may have it, may not show easily.
I've begun to realize that I may not be as together as I've always thought I was.
Over my lifetime, I have always thought I dealt with stress pretty well. Hell, I've pretty much always worked in high stress enviroments and I've had a rollercoaster of a life. But, I would chug a glass of wine, smoke the occasional ciggarette, and handle whatever the problem may be. However, again, as an adult, I've begun to notice that my stress does not display itself in my behavior, but instead in my physical being. When stressed, I lose weight. Sure, that sounds like a good thing but it's an insane amount of weight... weight I can't afford to lose.
I recently gave up my freelance lifestyle to head back into that of retail. I've had little to no time to myself to write and my many projects have been sat on a metaphorical shelf collecting dust. Between the stress of the job itself and the inability to get my stories out of my head and onto the page, I have lost multiple dress sizes. I started out as a size five in late October... it is now January and the size zero jeans I just purchased have to be worn with a belt in order to stay up. I look sick and frail, and there is nothing I can do about it.
Adding stress onto the pile are the customers, friends, family, and aquaintances that continue to tell me to eat. Let me say this one thing: I DO EAT. I'm not only eating everything I can get my hands on, but I'm drinking those nasty Boost shakes in between meals and snacking constantly. It doesn't do a damn thing and the only thing that happens when people fuss at me to eat is an added stress level that I really can't afford. For the record, I ate an entire can of Devon custard and a chocolate orange today by myself, in addition to my three meals a day. I do eat.
Adding to the issues are the internal dialogues I have with myself. I have a constant battle within my head which needs addressing in a manner I don't feel I'm capable of doing at this stage in my life. This goes back to the anxeity issue I mentioned before. As I said earlier, I had to leave my beloved freelance writing career to return to retail because, apparently, banks don't so much fancy the idea of a fairly new self-employed individual being given a mortgage. After having sold my farm, this has been my new goal--to purchase a new house--and I haven't been able to do so because of my career choice. So, with a heavy heart, I went back into a career I loathe and I am feeling the pain. Add in that I have been constantly sick over the last two months and it has given me no time to write. For those of you who are writers, you can understand the struggle going on in my mind at the moment. A writer who is not writing is in pain... it is an difficult process to go through. We have entire worlds in our heads which beg to be put to paper and I cannot get these characters out of my head at the moment. But, for myself, and this may be for many writers as well, I also have other issues fighting inside of my head that add to the pile of insane anxiety issues forcing themselves into perspective through my rapid weight loss. There is always a feeling of not being good enough. Regardless of how well my books or articles do, how much my partner tells me he loves me, or how great I'm doing in my day job-- I always feel like I'm struggling to be considered a decent person. I feel as though nothing I do is top notch, that I'm always behind the crowd and that someone else would be a better choice than me. This type of anxiety gives me trust issues and doubt...doubt like you wouldn't believe. I'm always second guessing everything I'm told, particularly by those I'm closest to. I'm always waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something horrible to happen, for those I love to leave.
I spend my days in a mentally-crippling cloud of doubt, stress, and meloncholy--but not many would know from my outward attitude. I can fake a smile like the best of them (I was awarded Best Actress multiple years in a row, after all). I still function... I still get up and go to work. I still fulfill my commitments and I still manage to parent to the best of my ability and cater to my other half. But it makes me look at people with even bigger issues in an entirely different light. Some of us are not so functional. Some of us cannot cope. Some of us are withering away before your very eyes. I beg of you, be good to your friends, neighbors, the girl in the shop behind the counter. You never know the mental struggle they are fighting at that very moment. Not everyone wears their anxiety or depression on their sleeves for the world to see. The girl with the biggest smile may be struggling with a darkness you couldn't understand. You never know.
And for God's sake, please, please don't tell them they need to eat. Trust me, they already know.