My grandpa once said the moon was mine. It’s the kind of scene that would open my biopic. It’s a simple story that I was reminded of many times growing up, and I even wrote a super, cheesy paper about it my freshman year of college when I thought I was hot shit. Are you going to tell us the story or what? Well dear reader, I was sitting on the back porch with my grandpa. He pointed to the moon and said, “The moon is yours.” I don’t remember his exact words. I can barely remember what I ate for lunch (broccoli cheddar bread bowl from Panera), but that is essentially what happened. I’m doing a horrible job introducing this post. Get ready for a quick change of tone…
I’ve been thinking about my history with depression and anxiety recently, and I’ve come to liken it to making a coin shine in a moonless night. Once in a while, you might find a street lamp, but it can seem like a hopeless task for most of the journey. I’m not saying that there is one right or one wrong way to handle these issues, but I do want to talk about my own struggles and where I am now.
I was always called a worrier or an over thinker. They were traits to trivialize or ignore. My mother would laugh it off, “That’s just Liz.” She didn’t do it out of carelessness or spite. I think, in her own way, she wanted to normalize what I was feeling so that I would feel normal. I am a sheet of paper. My mother is the paperweight on top. She has kept me grounded through the years. She is the one that suggested I try counseling. She is the one who told me to go for a run when I was getting anxious. She is not perfect, but she is perceptive and strong.
College created physical distance between us, but she was always there for me. I had a really hard time. A. really. hard. time. Sometimes I didn’t know if I would graduate. Sometimes I didn’t know if I would live. Some people say, “Oh man, college was the best years of my life.” Not me. You could not pay me to go back to that head space. The constant worry about my future. The worry. People forget how exhausting worry can be. There were days I was too tired to eat or sleep. I lost my freshman 15, and then I gained 30 back.I joined a sorority. I lived with roommates. I had a steady boyfriend. I should have been happy, and then I was angry when I wasn’t. I was angry that I couldn’t ride the bus to class because I had a panic attack the last time. I was angry that I couldn’t give my senior thesis presentation because I was worried about a panic attack. I was angry that I was worried and not living.
Being angry and sad and worried is exhausting.
I couldn’t tell you when things turned around. It’s funny how you can pin point all the sad moments in your life, but happiness is usually vague and undetectable. This post was never meant to be a how-to, more of a self-centered look at my own life, but I know it started to turn around. I moved back into my mom’s after graduating.I found a job, not a life changing career that fulfills me everyday, but it does help pay my student loans down and it keeps me in a routine. Routines keep me centered. When I am centered, it is easier to stay happy, normal. Find a routine. Be willing to break it at times. Know that you can always come back to it.
A lot of my anxiety stems from crowds and claustrophobia. This also led to a fear of public transportation. Avoid those triggers. Be vocal with friends. Work around it, and when you are ready, fight it. Find the strength to face it. You will be exhausted after. You might fail the first time or slip even when you are more seasoned. Sometimes the normalcy you are fighting for will feel like making a coin shine in a moonless night, but here is a little secret, normal is what you make normal.
Now back to the beginning to tie it all together. My grandpa was not theorizing that I had ownership of the moon, I don’t think I could afford the monthly payments and I assume it would get rather lonely, but that the reach of my life extends beyond my flesh, four walls, state, country, planet, and it travels past the moon and many other moons. I have not considered myself religious for a long time, but I believe there is something to everything we are doing. I take solace in this. I take comfort in this simple story that has created my own personal mythology. I’ve learned to not pay attention to the coin. Look at the moon.Look at the stars. Look at the sun. They always come back.