Depression, Anxiety, strength, exhaustion, pride, and loss

I don’t believe I am weak because I suffer from chronic Depression and Anxiety.

I know it takes incredible strength to claw your way out of Depression.  It’s something I’ve recently accomplished.

I also know it takes incredible strength and willpower to go toe-to-toe with Anxiety.

Despite this strength … despite my recent success in my battle with Depression … and despite my improved record at going toe-to-toe with Anxiety, I must say:  “I am exhausted, and I feel weak.”

No wait.  Because I have had to employ my strength to claw my way out of Depression, and because everyday I must use my strength and willpower to acknowledge and then deal with Anxiety,  I am exhausted, and I feel weak.

I am not weak.  But I do feel weak.

This exhaustion and this weakness are a bit of a daily reminder of why I should feel proud.  I have not given in, and I am winning.

But with Anxiety, while I am winning, I cannot claim I have won.

Daily, some of the strength I would like to use to fight injustice, or harvest goodies from my garden, or do something active with friends, I instead have to use to address the Anxiety that still haunts me.

As I’ve shared in previous posts, my therapist has helped me understand that Anxiety is a bully.  My bully.  My demon.

She is teaching me mental jujutsu tactics, so I don’t fight fire with fire when Anxiety tries to engage me for battle.

Wait, perhaps the words “fight” and “battle” are the wrong words.  Bullies like to fight.  They like to do battle on their terms.  So, that’s why I say mental jujutsu.  I try to use gentle, flexible, somewhat yielding tactics to let Anxiety show itself.  And then, I do my best to acknowledge it, and move on … leaving it behind.

Sometimes I am successful.  Sometimes I am not.  But I am always left exhausted.  And I feel weak.

This admission my come as a surprise.  I’ve described myself as the most optimistic depressed and anxious guy there is.  I have incredible hope.  But that hope is challenged daily.

And the fact that I must use some of my precious energy to confront a bully in my brain makes very sad, very angry.

I feel I have lost a part of myself.

I remember when I didn’t have to use so much energy to confront these situations.  I could use my strength for other things.  I felt more complete … a fuller “me.”

I feel I have lost something.  Lost a part of myself.  Lost a part of my capabilities.

I know as I get better at mental jujutsu I will require less strength for this part of my life.  I know as I learn more about my bully I will be able to outsmart It more and quicker.

But I am not yet good at mental jujutsu.  And right now, my bully knows more about me and how to trip my triggers than I do about It and how to leave It behind.

And so, I must admit, I am sad; I am angry.

As I try my best to end each of these posts about Depression and Anxiety on a positive note, I will do so again today.

A bit after my recovery started to take hold and my physical strength came back, I began starting many mornings with a 6 am yoga class.  It’s not a calming yoga.  It’s a work-and-twist-your-muscles-to exhaustion yoga.  That work and twisting, as I’ve noted before, robs some of the energy that Anxiety would otherwise like to latch on to.  The yoga fatigues the very muscles that my Anxiety likes to co-opt into stressful tension.  So, on every morning I can drag myself out of bed (at 4:30 am), I do.

By the time I make it to my mat for practice, I can already feel Anxiety griping my sternum, trying to start my day on Its terms.  But I use the next 60 minutes to outwit It.

And I see my strength build, mentally and physically.  I recall that just a couple months ago I could barely get out of bed.  And now, I am back to doing headstands, and humble warrior poses, and other jujutsu moves to tell Anxiety to leave me alone.