Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Letter to My Future Self

Dear Future Alison,

If you are reading this, it means you have hit some turbulence. The oxygen masks haven't fallen down from the ceiling, metaphorically speaking, but the captain has definitely turned on the Fasten Safety Belts sign and your brain is gearing up with anxiety. I don't know what the anxiety is about, but I'm almost certain it's getting worse by the hour as you try not to panic about panicking.

The first thing I want to say to you is: Remember that you love your life (mostly). (Yes, you stole that line from Glennon Melton of Momastery, but it's true for you, too.) You love cuddling with your husband in the mornings and then seeing your son wrapped in blankets on the living room couch and feeling his warm little arms wrap around your neck. You love the conversations you have with your daughter on the way to her school. You love the flexibility of working for your own company so you can bring lunch on birthdays and chaperone field trips. You love your tradition of Saturday morning breakfasts at your family's favorite restaurant. You love helping with homework and bedtime prayers. It's a good life, and it's the real-life embodiment of the life you used to try to imagine before you met your husband.

Not only do you have a good life, you also have a purpose. You are the best person to love the people who come into your life--the ones who will be in your life forever AND the ones you will only know for a moment. The world would be different without you--it would be poorer, the same way it would be poorer if any of the people around you didn't exist. Try to remember that and treat people with kindness. There are no ordinary people.

Remember not to make yourself feel bad about feeling bad. It's not helpful, and (your brain needs to hear this) it isn't justified. It's not your fault that you struggle with depression and anxiety. See, along with the good things you inherited from your family, like your dad's empathy and your grandmother's eyebrows, you also inherited the tendency toward mental illness. Many of your family members have struggled with the same thing you deal with. You're not a bad person for feeling this way. Yes, it sucks that you got those particular genes, but remember to be grateful that you didn't also get an abusive family, one who really strives to make you feel worse about yourself.

Gotta remember this every once in a while:
Instead, you were born into a loving family who did their best to nurture and support you--which they have done every step of your journey thus far. You also made a smart decision to marry an amazing guy who promised "till death do us part" and he apparently means it.

Finally, remember that your track record for getting through bad days is 100%. You've survived bad days, weeks, months, and one long difficult year. Maybe your emotions are screaming at you that this is it, the one time you can't make it out of despair...but remember that depression lies.

Hang on, take care of yourself as best you can, and wait for the turbulence to end.

One Who Knows