“You’re a joke. You know that, right? No one likes you and if no one likes you they for sure won’t like your writing. Your story is shit. Your writing is shit. Give up now before you embarrass yourself.”
That’s my anxiety talking, or maybe my depression. It’s difficult to tell sometimes. Either way, they’re both total bitches. I can go from caring too much to not giving a shit in the split of a second. It’s fucking exhausting.
It wasn’t always like this. I used to get excited about things. Genuinely excited. Not the “excited” that I get now, where something good happens and I wait for the inevitable — that something else will come to take it away. I used to be genuine, maybe I still am.
At the beginning of 2016, it became clear that it was time to start telling my story. I’d wasted the last 20 years feeling sorry for myself. I don’t have anymore time to fritter away living in the cozy shell I’ve build up around myself. It was time for me to not only be honest with myself, but with the rest of the world. Maybe my honesty would help others going through the same issues.
That being said, it was never my plan to write about my childhood. At least, not yet. I thought I would ease myself into it by talking about my mental illness, starting my story right after my mother died when I was 17. After she died, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety with a touch of borderline personality disorder mixed in because, why not? I already knew I had depression and anxiety. My college freshman psych class taught me that much. When they brought up borderline, I told my therapist to “fuck off” and never went back to therapy. I don’t know why exactly. I suppose it’s because, as far as mental illness goes, depression and anxiety seemed “normal,” manageable. Borderline meant that I might actually be crazy and I just couldn’t deal. While I find this piece of my story the most interesting, it’s not what the world is necessarily interested in, which I find unfortunate.
No one wants to know that I sometimes sit up at night because my mind won’t shut off or that there are days when I don’t want to get out of bed because, why bother? That stuff’s not sexy. It’s real. Having panic attacks while grocery shopping isn’t me just “overreacting.” It’s me being overwhelmed by the emotions of others swirling around me. This is why I used to drink A LOT. Drinking numbed that part of me that was so affected by others. But most don’t want to hear about that. At least, not yet.
Once I started writing, I learned quickly that when people find out your mother died of early-onset Alzheimer’s disease they don’t want to know about what came after. They don’t want to know that you once thought about killing yourself in a boyfriend’s bathtub out of spite. They want to know what it was like to grow up with Alzheimer’s in your life. And maybe I knew that in the back of my mind, but was too scared to admit that I was ready to share that part of my story. It’s much easier to write about what an asshole I was in my 20s than to actually write the words: My mother forgot me.
Being ready to share any part of my story terrifies me. It means I’ve evolved into someone who gives a shit.
Mar Andras is moderately adjusted adult human who writes from her desk overlooking Philadelphia. Thus far, her essays have appeared on VOX and xoJane. She is co-leader of the Twitter movement #imnotashamed because she believes no one should hide in the shadows of mental illness. She is also an avid Alzheimer’s advocate.
Mar Andras can be found on Twitter.