Anxiety is something I have struggled with for as long as I can remember. From the days of over thinking everything I said in middle school to never being able to sleep in high school to doubting my entire identity as an adult. It's a life long struggle that many of us learn how to manage and cope with in our own way. But it is real and it is there and it is a valid illness. I know personally anxiety has stopped me from every day things like holding a job or making a phone call. And I have come across many people who make comments like, "This generation is so weak" or "When I was a kid people didn't have anxiety as an excuse". Anxiety often gets labeled as small annoyance that we should get over or that is just in our heads. And the problem might stem from our brains but it is a very real thing that causes physical symptoms, even if those around us can't see it. Something I would like to see change in society is how seriously or rather how not seriously we take anxiety. Anxiety should be a valid reason to stay home or call of sick. It is common for anxiety and anxiety disorders to be disregarded and not taken seriously. How has this effected you and your daily life?
This year has been especially painful and challenging for everyone on earth. The severity ranging in different ways but all of us sharing at least some common ground. One thing about having a traumatic upbringing is, I think, that sometimes you forget that trauma isn’t something that stops and starts it’s something that you grow through, live with, and cope with. Sad Girl Party has just gotten a makeover and we are currently in the process of it’s re-launch but if you’ve been following since the early days you will have seen that I promised to explain the way my life took a turn this year, especially towards the end and what I have done to (at least attempt) to move through that. If you follow @sadgirlparty_sm on Instagram you can also get a visual under the moving forward highlights of what it took to clean up the literal mess I was in. The tab is actually still in progress and I am looking forward to finally being able to post “after” photos. So, here it is, the story of my 2020 – with out a focus on the political or viral because we are all in the same boat on why that is, well catastrophic. At the end of 2019 my partner and I were living in a studio apartment that didn’t allow dogs and wasn’t the best in general. My mother was taking care of my dog and we were having some financial strains. Her ex-boyfriend was on the way out and my brother had decided to go live with is dad and she asked me if my partner and I wanted to move into the upstairs of her house. And I should’ve known better. My childhood was not easy. There were copious amounts of emotional and mental abuse as well as narcissistic parenting. But I missed my dog and I knew my partner really hated the apartment that we were paying too much for and the opportunity to save a little money was looming in front of us like a perfect, juicy red apple. We accepted the offer and I regretted my decision right away. I cried for the weeks leading up to moving but it was too late. We had said yes and we notified the landlord that we would be moving. Looking back as much as I wish we would’ve said no I also know that in some ways this decision would save us in the coming months. I was reminded quickly about why living with my mother was not something that I could handle. But that came with the silver lining of my dog and the koi fish she had also been babysitting. As well as being able to afford to take the trip to my partner’s bother’s marine graduation. And then COVID hit. And though I know the progression of living back at home, I also know that had we not moved in, we might have ended up homeless. The first two weeks of COVID, as we all know, were terrifying. No knew how deadly this virus was or just how locked down we would need to be. My partner lost his job and as a full-time student and writer he was our only income. So, when I say the decision to live with my mom was a catch 22, I mean it. We would not have had rent for the majority of this year and I am not sure what we would have done. But lock down came with work at home orders and no reprieve from my mother’s critical company. There are family details I won’t share. At least not here. I’ll save those juicy tidbits for the many memoirs I could fill. But summer progressed as our relationship regressed into something, I recognized from seven or eight years ago. My mother and I have never really reconciled. That is not a thing that comes easy when dealing with a narcissist. There is no mutual understanding. There is no acceptance of fault. There is no sincere apology or even a recognition of who raised who and who was supposed to be the caretaker in our 26 years of being acquainted. I was kicked out at eighteen years old so that a boyfriend could move in instead. I went to live with my dad and with the separation from my mother came more tolerance. I lived apart from my mother for seven years after that (with a brief six-month stint where I came back for school and in that time frame another boyfriend moved in) and it was easier to pretend. It was easier to ignore the rude text messages or picked fights when I all it took to end the conversation was to turn the phone off. When I moved miles away to Michigan, she could only hurt me when I allowed her to sting. There were no stomping footsteps and flung open doors of my bedroom if I refused to engage in toxic behavior or answer the phone. But back at home old habits die hard. And I was a fly trapped in a web with no where to go. Again. I remembered every time my mind would race as a teenager while I went through option after option of how to get out of the house. I remembered how nothing was safe. How every mistake was scrutinized. How if I put a single fork in the dishwasher the wrong way that could lead to a reprimand. I started walking through life again so careful with every step I could make it through the whole house without a single creak. I learned how to be a shadow at a very young age and the practice was like riding a bike. I remembered how it felt when my only escape was self-harm. And I was yet again left at the end of arguments unable to articulate what had just happened and why it had gone so wrong because her skill with twisting an argument into a balloon animal is unwavering. Eventually the fights became explosive. It became clear to my partner and I that the things she labeled as heated arguments were abuse. My younger brother was caught in the crossfires and another boyfriend made his way in between my mother and her children. I could type out every nasty text and reiterate every action that broke me all over again. But for now, it’s better left unsaid. Even when writing this I have to remind myself that I do not need the validation of anyone to know the things she did where more than just mistakes. That they were wrong and abusive but her words as she tells me her therapist said it was normal or that all her friends say it’s just a fight or that I am being over dramatic or that in fact I am the one abusing her echo in my head. It’s hard to shake. But I need to prove to myself that I know that setting boundaries with toxic people is not a form of abuse. Throughout these fights my mother told me multiple times she didn’t want me around and that she was kicking me out. My partner and I took these words seriously and made arrangements. The backlash from this was intense despite her having asked us to leave. But at that point it was too much. My home is Chicago but currently that was not a possibility. My partner got a job in Indiana and we signed the lease on an apartment. There are joys of living in this new place that I am looking forward to, like being close to some relatives I have always wanted to live near. But leaving the only place I want to live was not easy. I lived in Michigan for three years and the thing that experience taught me is where I want my home base to be. And unfortunately, I had to sacrifice that desire to preserve my mental health. I am now working very hard to prepare to be able to live in Chicago again. The newly instated trauma doesn’t just go away because I have removed myself from the environment but I am dealing with that as well. I want to enjoy the things I am excited about being in Indiana for. I want to stay safe with all of the much bigger things than this story going on in the world. And I want to return to my city independently and triumphant. Sincerely, Mickie
Today I was going through some new story submissions for Sad Girl Party. I came across one entry that mentioned how this person feels they may have anxiety but they don't think their parents would believe them. Now at 26 years old that's something I don't have to worry about much anymore. But it something a lot of people do need to deal with. How can minors get help if their parents won't believe that they are in need of it? This is one of the reasons talking about mental health needs to be normalized. No one should feel like their struggles won't be validated if they ask for help. Share your thoughts/experiences/tips for talking about mental health with parents below.