For the longest of times, I thought I would wake up cured of my struggles with anxiety and depression. I was sure of it. I think I had to be sure of it — the struggles were so overwhelming and all encompassing at the time that I wouldn’t have been able to comprehend forever.
But slowly over the years, I have learned that anxiety and depression are more like recurring illnesses, at least for me, than a respiratory infection that can be cleared once and for all.
And this became okay with me. I started to learn to handle the points of remission. My bad days became less bad. My good days became brighter and more plentiful.
I never really feared the relapses because I never really felt like they were that far off. They always seemed right on my shoulder, waiting to beckon me back into their darkness. I never really climbed that far out, so my falls weren’t all that far.
And then May came, and everything was so bright. I celebrated the birthdays of my oldest two. We wound down my eldest’s year of first grade. And I started to fear the endless unstructured hours of summer break.
But then summer break came, and the lack of structure didn’t bother me. We had a general rhythm to our days, and finally my kids were old enough that we could do some fun activities during our free hours.
And June came and went and then I got pneumonia in July. I was stranded on my couch for much of the month, but still, even through the sickness, the darkness didn’t come back. It wasn’t a particularly fun month, but it wasn’t one spent in despair or panic.
And now it’s August, and the summer is coming to a close, and I still find myself swimming in joy. I find in my quiet moments contentment. During the bad times, I remind myself that they are fleeting and manageable.
And to be honest, this all terrifies me. Where is the fall? When will it come? It will come, right?
Or has the massive amount of work I’ve done over the past decade started to bear fruit? Have I learned enough about managing my conditions that my average days are now good? Have I learned how to avoid falling down the rabbit hole?
I sit here and I honestly don’t know the answer. I don’t know if anyone could know the answer.
I know I should be relishing these times regardless of how long they will last. But those of us who have fallen know the fear that stays in the back of our heads.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring. This terrifies me. But what if it is the beginning of a new day?