I rarely post on Facebook, so I’m sure this status will seem out of the blue, but hopefully not too masturbatory. That’s not my intent. My intent is to unveil to you (my friends and family and whoever else happens to read this) a dirty little secret that some of you may or may not already know in the most sincere way possible. I, Braden, suffer from anxiety and depression. How cliché, right? Trust, I know…these are not new afflictions to the human race. I am fully aware. In fact, because of said afflictions, some of the best art has been created from folks, like myself, suffering silently from the big scary A and D words. So, the question is, why the need to share this information in such a public way? How very Oprah or LA of you, Braden.
WELL, up until this point, I have kept my struggle with anxiety to my best friend and a select few others; and I have been so thankful for the acceptance, love and patience that has been given to me. They know how difficult it can be to witness the anxiety devouring me whole; but, what is harder for me is to see how it affects THEM. To put it best, anxiety can manifest itself in the form of another character in my personal relationships. He’s like the ominous recurring asshole on a soap opera. He’s not always there, but when he is he’s very hard to be around and likes to mess sh*t up for me and the people I care the most about.
Anxiety and depression can be incredibly selfish and narcissistic, because it does feel at times like you are alone when clearly you’re not. In fact, you’re surrounded by amazing people who love you for you, unconditionally.
But, you can’t see that because you doubt yourself so much. So, you smile and you crack jokes and entertain when sometimes you’re feeling quite fragile inside. The simplest thing triggers you and makes you feel like you screwed something up or like you’re going to screw something up, and then that idea fuels more anxiety and you find yourself feeling like this beautiful life has transformed into this scary fun house you want out of. Even thinking of what other’s might think of this post gives me a little anxiety.
And that is why I’m writing this. Life is too short to be a victim to anxiety and depression. If you are like me and suffering, you have to do whatever is necessary to get you back to the beautiful essence that is YOU. I have found that medication really helps. Without it, I have absolutely noticed a difference. I am more like a shell of myself and not the best to be around. Will I need it for the rest of my life? Probably not. But that’s besides the point. Sadly, I feel like there is a really big stigma with medication and mental health in general. I DON’T get it. There should be no shame in being public about taking anxiety or antidepressant medications or about suffering from said afflictions. We are human. We aren’t perfect and we are all struggling to some extent; some more than others. But, we should open a dialogue and talk about it.
I am not only writing this post so people can relate. I’m writing it for ME. Because, for the longest time, I have felt so ashamed and embarrassed about my emotional struggles. And you know what? Ain’t nobody got the damn time for that bologna. I am a good person. I am a fantastic friend and son and citizen to this world. At my best moments, I am decently attractive and talented. I am a lover. I am a giver. I am worthy. However, anxiety and depression would like to make me think otherwise. So, I’m using this moment to stand on my millennial soap box and say F*CK you anxiety and depression. You do not define me.
Talking about mental health is important and should not be shoved under a rug. The mind controls everything. Without a healthy mind we have nothing. It’s pivotal that mental health care is accessible and talked about. I’m taking every positive step possible to get to a good place with myself and my demons. It’s not an over night thing, but it’s a journey I’m proudly taking. I really encourage all of you who are in my shoes to do the same. Hell, even if you aren’t prone to anxiety and depression just take the steps to become a better you. I’ll be right there, cheering you on.