This week, I had a morning where I got up before the rest of the house and went for a walk through the neighborhood. I usually do this with the dog or with the kids, and I usually have music or an audio book or use it as a chance to answer emails or check up on clients. But this time, I did none of those things. This time, it was just me, just the quiet of the morning, and I made a concentrated effort to keep my phone in my pocket for the entire 4 mile walk.
There was a time when this was easier, when we didn’t feel so connected to technology and didn’t feel like there was such a need to multitask our entire days and squeeze in timeslots for everything. There was a time when we didn’t have cell phones or laptops or wireless anything. And maybe we didn’t get as much done but maybe we didn’t feel as obligated to do so much either.
There was a time where we didn’t have cameras on our phones and we relied more on our memories. The view from a lens is never as gorgeous as what it looks like live, but we try so hard to capture every single moment on our devices. Maybe those memories would be more vibrant if we watched it with our eyes rather than our cameras. Maybe we should try to just LIVE and just BE.
Full disclosure (as always,) dear readers: I take anti-depressants. Some people would tell me I shouldn’t tell you this. I have clients who rely on my advice and potential clients who might be reading this right now and thinking they would never hire someone to help them who needs help themselves. But I’ve never been good at hiding things about myself or my life. I try my best to always be authentic, and I feel that's only fair to the people who choose to be a part of my life.
I started taking Lexapro a few years ago when my dad died. I had resisted getting help for many years for anxiety and depression because I didn’t want anything to change who I was, at my core, as a person. But when my dad passed after years of suffering, I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore. If you’ve ever had one of those moments in life where you know you should be doing something but can’t remember what it is, you might know how I was feeling ALL. THE. TIME. There was a low buzzing in my veins and I couldn’t make myself slow down. This has always been a part of my personality. I’ve been called a “Monica,” which refers to the perfectionistic character Monica Gellar on “Friends.” There's an episide where she can't sleep at night knowing someone left a pair of shoes out in her living room, and that's kinda who I've always been. But there came a point where it felt less like a comedy and more like it was suffocating me. Eventually, I raised my hand and talked about it with my doctor and she put me on a low dose of the Lexapro.
Recently, I read Glennon Doyle’s “Untamed.” If you’re late to the party like I was and haven’t read it, make sure you do as soon as you are done reading this. It’s completely fabulous. She talks about anxiety and how it’s like the anticipation of going to the dentist can be worse than the actual drill procedure. When she was still married to her husband, her son asked him who he’d take to a deserted island and he said “your mommy.” When his son asked what he’d take with him to the island, he said “your mommy’s medicine.” Glennon is on the same antidepressant as me and she advises people to take their medicine and to keep taking their medicine if they need it. Glennon Doyle suggests you don’t get rid of your umbrella in a heavy rain just because it’s kept you dry so far. If it’s still raining, you keep yourself protected so you don't get wet again.
My husband doesn’t agree with taking medication for mental health. He thinks it’s a crutch. But think about what crutches are for. If you hurt yourself, do you use those crutches while you heal or should you walk around on your injury instead? How are you going to heal if you never have something to lean in on? Sometimes we need that strength when we are feeling weak until we can stand on our own again. The problem occurs with crutches when the people that use them don’t need them. We shouldn't shame those who do until we've walked around on that broken foot for awhile.
Not all issues people need medication for are evident from the outside. I have a friend with a horrible auto-immune disease and some days she looks and acts normal. Other days, she can’t get out of bed. She needs medication, but if you caught her on a “good day” you might wonder why she needs it. Why are mental healthy issues any different? We can’t see all the things that might be going on inside of people. Many of us have actual hormonal things going on that no one else can see. Some of us are also masters of hiding our pain, inside and out. Why do we want to make people feel bad for admitting that they need help and for seeking it? Shouldn't we applaud that?
We all have stuff. Too much stuff. And sometimes we need the quiet. I started taking an antidepressant not because I wanted to numb who I was or to rely on something to give me a shortcut in life. I just wanted to find myself and learn how to walk on my feet again. I still take the Lexapro I was prescribed a couple of years ago and I don’t plan to quit anytime soon.. That’s okay too. It doesn’t make me a worse mom, wife, friend, trainer, or runner. It makes me a human being.
There was a time I couldn’t have left the house without something to keep my brain occupied. I’m really trying to be okay with the quiet. There’s a lot of it these days, and also a lot of noise. It’s just a balancing act. As for that walk, I saw a lot of things that day I’d passed a million times and never really looked at. Life is going too fast to rush it more than we have to.