“Do you think you have ADD?”
The feeling of relief that washed over me was palpable. A living thing. “You think that, too?”
Eric nodded. “I’ve thought so for a while now.”
We were sitting in Chuy’s on a date night, and as soon as he said the words, I felt a release of emotions. Relief. Affirmation. Dread. For years I had wondered and kept silent, fearful that I was imagining it all. Afraid of the ramifications of a diagnosis, and all the stuff that comes with it. Mostly, afraid it was somehow my fault. That I should try harder. Do better. Force myself to pay attention. Not be so anxious all the time.
This opened up a floodgate, and I opened up about my anxiety, as well. We decided I should pursue a clinical approach along with the counseling approach I had been taking. Counseling had been incredibly helpful, for sure. But if the issue was in my brain wiring, it would take more than just wishing it away.
Why was I so hesitant, you would probably ask. Anyone who has what would be termed “mental health issues” would laugh. The stigma follows you, but not only that, your own fears and stigmas do as well. We are our worst critics.
I’ve already addressed here about finding freedom in the midst of mental illness. It doesn’t define me, or you, if you have similar struggles. But how do we wrestle with the fact that there is an element of who we are that could be rejected by our society? A society that tells us we need to keep ourselves bottled up, and only show what it deems beautiful? Being real and genuine requires opening up parts of ourselves that others might despise. That is the fear that haunts most of us who have diagnosable mental problems.
So when my husband asked me that question, a Pandora’s box exploded open. And we both walked through it together. He wasn’t going to reject me, or despise me, for something that was a part of me that couldn’t be medicated away. And as I took baby steps to talking about it, seeking help, and embracing how I was made, that Pandora’s box became insignificant. Not in the way most people would think: it was still a big learning curve. It’s still a struggle to talk about. But to the people who matter most to me, they love me not just in spite of my ADD and anxiety, but because of it. And THAT is what makes the difference.
If you, too, struggle with mental health problems, let me beg you to surround yourself with people who will embrace you. Get medical and counseling help. Find a community, church, or organization that will walk through it with you. There is freedom to be who you were made to be.