I don’t think I knew I had it
I never gave it a second thought
I don’t think I realized
That anxiety is every “what if I can not?”
What if I can’t do it?
What if I can’t finish?
What if I let out everything of me and nobody likes what I’ve done with it?

Every time I question myself
Over and over and over again
Standing by the microwave rubbing circles on my palm with my thumb
Staring absently at the numbers on the clock
Not quite thinking anything at all but feeling that I’m dumb
That there is no point in even trying
You see, my depression and anxiety don’t often involve crying
Maybe when my chicken died
But that’s just downright sad
It’s when I’m quiet and with myself
That I believe that I am bad

Too annoying to be loveable
Too burdensome to care
Too broken to be believed in
Too ready to be left standing there
It’s the pit of feeling inside me when I share that I am broken
That I don’t know what to do or what to expect
It’s staring at my phone knowing I want to reach out and share

It’s the terrifying feeling that arises
When I remember the completely awful words
“When your depression is better you’ll be amazing”
And thinking everyone else feels the same
It’s never being confident in knowing I’ve been chosen
That one has forsaken all others but me
But wondering if he really wants to be free

And when it all gets to be too much
It’s wanting to give up and quit
To permanently be done because I just can’t handle it
Not necessarily wanting to die
But to be able to tap out
To walk away from the thoughts and fears
That seem to linger within and without
I know that I’m not good enough
For the positions I am in
Of wife and mother and daughter and sister and friend

Could others actually love me?
Am I really that okay?
Or is this hope another disappointment that I’ll find somewhere down the way?
Of all the things that pass through my mind
I feel I can’t control
Waiting for the other shoe
Has to be the worst of all
It sucks away my joy
And robs me of delight
It turns bright and sunny days
Into the cloudy blackest night


It does not own me
I am more than this
I will stand in door and window and I will shake my fist
You will not defeat me
You are not the best
I am loved by those around me
And many will attest
To what I bring to the table
And how I brighten rooms
And how my raw honesty
Lifts up part of their own gloom

You see, anxiety is part of me
And maybe it always will
But I will not sit silently by
For it to torment me still
I won’t stop working
I won’t stop writing
I won’t stop loving
I won’t stop living

I defy this fog inside me
And accept that I’ll do less work
That sometimes I’m more irritable
And sometimes I’m lazy and I shirk the responsibilities around me

Only for a short season, though
Things will get back on track
As I lean on others to claw my way out and back into the sun
Depression and anxiety
You do not own me
I belong to another
So move along, go away, and let me be a mother
Let me love my family and let me serve them well
I know you’ll be back, history will tell
I’m better than you’ll let me think
But I don’t need your permission
Soon I’ll fly as long as I keep the vision
One step at a time is all it takes
And one step I can do
But today, dear mental illness
I’ve had enough of you


I’m a wife, mom, writer, and runner. I live with depression and anxiety. They absolutely do not define me.

Cari Jehlik can be found on her blog, Facebook, and Twitter.