Wednesday Words #1 – Strength in Demons

“Because, ironically, in this moment, as I try to explain the worst of my demons, I’ve never felt stronger.”

– from In Pieces by Danielle Pearl

Last year when I read the novel In Pieces by Danielle Pearl, these words spoke to me enough for me to write them down.

That doesn’t always happen with a book…it often doesn’t.

Sometimes a book isn’t even that memorable in and of itself, but for whatever reason, one particular line gets lodged in my heart.

2020 was a rough year, certainly…but it had nothing on 2019. 

That was the darkest year I’ve ever experienced, even despite the fact that I was pregnant and should’ve been happier than ever. My son was born in October 2019 and that was really the turning point when things started looking up…before then, though, I was in a very difficult place, trying to wrestle through the scariest, most all-consuming anxiety I have ever felt in my life.

It took me a long while to be able to speak about that year without feeling that fear and guilt bubble up in my chest. I avoided writing too openly about all that I went through in 2019 because I felt that people would judge me for not dealing with my mental health concerns in the exact way they would have. I spent a lot of time even being afraid to share my happy moments on social media or on my blog because I also didn’t want to be perceived as doing too well.

Then, one day, I said “fuck it” and declared openly, in writing, with the loudest authorial voice that I could find that I suffer from anxiety, that I have suffered from it for many years (probably my whole life), and that anyone who can’t take it, who can’t accept me with my anxieties, doesn’t deserve a spot in my life. I started to speak plainly about how I was feeling as a pregnant woman, and then as a new mother, on my blog and on my social media…and, the funny thing about it was, I never felt stronger. Some people might’ve seen me as weaker for my anxieties, but I felt prouder of myself than at any other point in my existence. All of my other successes, at school and at work, seemed mundane compared to the momentousness of standing (figuratively speaking, of course) in front of everyone I knew and declaring, “I have a mental disorder and I am taking medication for it and I am struggling through it and some days are grim but others are still wonderful…and I am a strong person because of it.” 

2019 was an absolute mess in so many ways…but I was forced to look at my mess on the floor and pick up all of the tiny pieces of myself and put them back together into something beautiful…and that was a magical process.

I will never forget the moment when my former best friend said to me, in a fit of violent emotion and frustration, that she had anxiety too but didn’t “ask for special treatment from anyone because of it.” Well, guess what? My name is Janille N G and I have anxiety, and I sure as heck ask for special treatment because of it – I not only ask but I expect people to revere me as one of the strongest people they’ve ever met because of it. Don’t underestimate those people who have battled mental illness because they are some of the ones that the world tried to crush but who rose out of the ashes more defiant than ever.

jng

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