“Maybe next year can be the year of Hanna being healthy.”
I was standing in the middle of Dillard’s, wandering aimlessly in search of a anorak jacket and talking to my mom on the phone.
The hardest thing about being sick is the burden you put on the people you love most. It would be fine if I could shoulder everything myself, but that’s impossible. Your sister knows when you’re crying on the phone. Your roommates know when to be worried. Your academic advisor says he’ll walk with you to the counseling center if you need support. I don’t get to lock everything up and be in a bubble of depression and anxiety all by myself.
Absentmindedly fiddling with the tulle of formal dress on display, I tried to rack my brain for the last time I was healthy. I can only think of Alaska, sitting on top of boulders looking over the ocean. Quiet and easy and free. Not high school, with the daily unbridled, haywire emotional hurricane. With the stretched-too-thin-can’t-feel-pretty-enough walking nightmares. Not college, with the can’t-quite-breathe-there-is-too-much. With the feeling that I was never going to be small enough to matter to you.
I have to remind myself almost every night that it’s okay to fail. It’s okay to not do well and to be bad at things. Your worth as a human is not dictated by your grade on a French paper or a linguistics exam.
It is judged by how carefully you can tuck yourself around another human. How you make egg scramble for 12, taking into account everyone’s vegetable preferences. How you love humans who will never love you back. How you say goodbye.
I am tired of romanticizing my anxiety, of lessening it into the subject of a poem. You cannot love depression out of someone. You cannot hug and kiss and “you are important” away a chemical imbalance. It is a daily battle, and my hands are callused and tired of fighting.
“Maybe,” I said, my throat tight. “I hope so.”
This is not the first time I’ve cried in a public place, and it won’t be the last. I have cried in bathrooms on campus, on my apartment deck, in the library at 1 a.m.
All I’m asking for is space and patience. I will be okay.
(Author’s note: part of me thinks I shouldn’t post this, but I think it’s for the best. If we don’t actively work to remove stigmas from mental health issues, others will go for as long as I did without seeking treatment. Learn more today.)