What does depression (and anxiety) look like?

Most commercials for antidepressants show people in despair, lying on a couch crying or dressed in baggy clothing with unkempt hair.

Is that what depression looks like? Yes. Sometimes.

But often, depression can look like a person who has their shit together. A career woman who gets things done. A soccer mom with perfect hair and perfect kids. A lawyer. A doctor. A musician. An artist. A movie star. A writer. Me.

Anxiety medication ads often depict a person having a panic attack, complete with hyperventilating, rapid heartbeat and sweating.

So that’s what anxiety looks like, right? Sure. Sometimes.

It also can look like standoffishness. Indifference. Disengagement. Irritability. Forgetfulness. Me.

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My biggest fear

Fear. It can be crippling. It can also change as we age. What’s your biggest fear right now at this moment? Will you have the same answer tomorrow?

When I was little, my biggest fear was abandonment. After my father passed away, my mother remarried the man who would end up raising me and shaping my life in ways I didn’t know were possible at the time. I was only four, which is how old my daughter is now. I didn’t understand everything that had happened. I just had a fuzzy memory of my mother holding me over the side of my father’s hospital bed and telling me to say goodbye. I hadn’t said anything; I’d just waved. Waving instead of speaking is something my daughter does sometimes when she’s apprehensive about something. She’s afraid of the dark and worries when she thinks I am mad at her.

Not long after my mother and stepfather got married, I began having a recurring nightmare. I think I was about six when it began and it happened several times during the next few years. I dreamt about having to go hunting with my stepfather, just the two of us. In the dream, he made me stand under the water in a creek so that he could stand on my shoulders and look for deer through his binoculars. When I couldn’t hold my breath any longer, I pushed him off my shoulders, and he fell into the water and hit his head on the rocks. He wouldn’t wake up. At that point, I would always wake up crying. Pretty twisted for a kid’s dream, huh?

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Truths Left Unspoken

“Truths Left Unspoken”, Rhythmic Poetry, 9-27-16

Many secrets lead me astray.
Why do I want to run away?

I have all I’ve ever wanted.
So what’s missing? I’m still haunted.

Hidden by truths left unspoken,
There is part of me that’s broken.

Be content with medication
Or a much-needed vacation.

When there is too much stress to face,
I want to leave this unsafe place.

-Brandi Easterling Collins