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  • Writer's pictureAshlyn

i'm hysterical.

Updated: Apr 25, 2018

Welcome. I'm thrilled you're here. And also a little anxious.

Hi there. I have a secret to tell you. Come closer. A little closer. My womb is wandering. Truth be told, it’s been a traveler for as long as I can remember, longer than I’ve even known that I had a womb. But in recent years, it’s quit its day job and roamed throughout my body from top to bottom, never pausing in one place for too long.

I am, of course, hysterical over it. Who wouldn’t be if such an important organ decided to take weekly jaunts to the coast? I’ve tried all the normal remedies for hysteria, the ancient wisdoms passed down from the Egyptians to Galen to Queen Victoria: smelling salts, marriage, mint, belladonna, heroin, orgies, abstinence, hot baths, bland food, exercise. Only a few of those things are actually true. I’ll leave it to you to decide which ones. And yet my uterus resists. It refuses to be pushed back into its proper place. I honestly find it really rude.

"No one around me understood. No one I love could empathize with how trapped I felt. I had no one."

And it’s certainly affected my mental health. I’m always anxious. I feel sad and alone. I feel angry and resentful. I feel everything. In all seriousness, I have not one but two anxiety disorders—lucky me!—and most days, it takes everything in me just to get out of bed and talk to other people. One disorder feeds the other, and it’s an endless balancing act of control that usually lands me flat on my face.

For a long time, I didn’t know what was happening to me. I knew I was scared. I knew I didn’t sleep. I knew I felt overwhelmed and claustrophobic and damaged. I knew I felt deeply lonely. And once I did understand my mental disorder—that’s what it is, and that’s what I'll call it—I’d completely lost my footing and my foundation. No one around me understood. No one I love could empathize with how trapped I felt. I had no one. If it were just a wandering uterus, I would’ve had it removed a long time ago.

What I really needed was a community of people who understood my perspective, my broken brain. No one EVER talks about this. Like, ever. Have you ever noticed that? It makes me want to scream. I feel ashamed of it and of myself. Why can’t I control myself? Why am I overreacting? Why do I check the locks fifty times a day? Why do I watch my husband sleep? Why am I so creepy? Why, why, why? And acting like my anxiety is shameful feeds the shame and anxiety I already feel. It’s like my mind is a never-ending maze of regret and fear going one layer deeper to more regret and fear. God, it’s exhausting. You’re probably already exhausted, and we’ve barely begun.

"I want us all to feel a little less alone."

If it’s not obvious by now, my mental health is in the dumper. It has been for years, even if I didn’t realize it, and I’ve become very open about that. It makes most people very uncomfortable. Why is it that cancer or ALS or gout don’t inspire the same level of avoidance? Do we only appreciate the significance of illness when we can see the physical implications of it? When a limb is swollen or legs don’t work? I once had a woman, a stranger, say to me “Well, you don’t look sick.” Well, you don’t look stupid, but here we are. That was rude. Sorry. But what does sickness even look like? Please, I’d love to know. The encounter was deeply unfair to both of us. I am still outraged.

Because I am sick. Maybe not every moment of every day but still, every day. Sometimes, I make myself literally sick with worry. Sometimes, I go actual days without sleep. Sometimes, I wake my husband in the middle of the night, just to see if he's still alive. He finds it super annoying. But I can't help it. The compulsion is too powerful, the anxiety too overwhelming. Just FYI, before you ask, I am seeing a therapist about this. His name is Phil, but I actually call him Dr. Phil to his face and behind his back because he’s bald and my therapist, and frankly, I think it’s funny. He’s repeatedly asked me to stop because he is, in fact, not a doctor. I’ve repeatedly said no because, honestly, I don’t really care. I know, I know. We’re working on healthy boundaries.

This anxiety though, these flaws, they're part of who I am now. They're woven into the fabric of my story, even if they don't usually make my newsfeed. Who wants to hear about my panic attacks or my crippling hypochondria on Facebook? I'm sure between all the wedding photos and cat videos, my claustrophobia and low self esteem would fit right in. Truly, I'm tired of hiding behind a curtain of hashtag blessed and beautifully lit bullshit. I am not fine. There. I said it. With all the fake news and curated lives floating around, how about something real for a change?

So here’s the pitch: I will be honest with you.

I will spill the dirty parts about myself and my experience with anxiety and depression. I will be open about my never-ending imperfections. I will be vulnerable and sincere even when it terrifies me—which, just FYI, is all the time. I do have two anxiety disorders, after all. But I show you mine, you show me yours. Not like that. Ew. Stop being gross. What I mean to say is, I want to hear your stories too. I want you to contact me and tell me how you relate, if you relate, or if your experience differs. I want us to ask questions, connect with each other, and build a community of friends who support one another in our struggles. I want us all to feel a little less alone. But please, if you think I’m off my rocker—which, just FYI, I am—tell your mother or your boss or your best friend, but don’t tell me. My gray matter has that covered, and I don’t need to hear it from strangers too.

Because guess what, we’re all a little off our rocker. Sometimes, everyone’s mental health is in the dumper. Occasionally, we all feel a little hysterical. I can’t hide it anymore, and I don’t want anyone else to either. Let’s be vulnerable and panicked and sad and human together. I’m hysterical and not ashamed. Join me.

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