I am the eternal optimist. I am that happy, perky little person that probably drives you nuts on a Monday morning. You may catch me doing Sean Connery “Celebrity Jeopardy” impersonations or spot me dancing down a hallway at work. I love to post inspirational things, make people laugh with crazy stories, and fight for those I love to see their glass half-full.
I also suffer from severe depression and anxiety disorder. I fight it every day. Most of the time, I win. Other times, I crawl into bed with the covers over my head and let the tears flow like a waterfall. There are days I feel paralyzed and spend most of the day willing myself to “suck it up” and do something productive.
I think that the majority of people who know me would never guess that I have to fight depression and anxiety daily. I laugh through my pain. I find productive ways to try and deal with it. As a teenager, I dealt with my issues by pretending to be someone else. I took on a persona and rolled with it, while dumping my real feelings deep inside of me. I was a shy person, but my persona was totally out-going and fun. I was scared of the world. She wasn’t. She took chances and spoke up for herself. It was perfect, until I got to the point where I lost my authentic self entirely. It was like a drug. Little by little, I had to wean myself of pretending. I’d promise myself that I’d be my real self for one hour, then two hours, until I finally made it “home”.
In college, I dealt with my problems by keeping myself busy. My philosophy was that if I was busy, I’d have no time to think about things that bothered me. I was a Musical Theatre major, so there were tons of classes to take up my time. If I wasn’t in vocal, dance or acting lessons; I was working on the stage crew, doing homework or working in the college bookstore. This all worked out wonderfully until a series of events sent me into a downward spiral. One day, the theatre department had a bake sale. My friend left me alone to tend to the baked goods, while she went to the restroom. There was a large knife on the table, and I couldn’t stop staring at it. All I could think was “She shouldn’t have left me here alone with this knife”. In that moment, I knew I needed real help immediately. When my friend came back, I told her I needed to go to Health Services right then. That began my road of therapists and medication that continues to this day.
I began my journey of wellness 18 years ago. Sometimes, it’s frustrating that I still have to take medication to combat my illness. In fact, there were times in the past where I thought that God would be angry with me because I didn’t just rely on Him to fix my problem. I thought that taking my medication was not trusting Him. I started going to a Christian counseling service a few years ago, and my therapist opened my eyes entirely. I’m asthmatic and she asked “Well, do you feel guilty about taking your inhaler when you have an asthma attack?” I thought she was nuts. I thought “Of course I don’t! That’s crazy!” I told her I didn’t, and she said “Well, it’s the same thing.” She explained that God created these medications to help us with the chemical imbalances that cause these issues. She told me that the medications can go along with prayer and that I’m not trusting God any less by taking them.
Today, I take one day at a time. I’m still on medication, but only see my therapist when I feel myself on a downward spiral. I fill my spare time by reading books, volunteering, practicing my Spanish and doing community theatre. I’m blessed with amazing family members and friends, who comfort me with hugs and love. My mission in life is to make others feel as loved as I do. That’s why I enjoy making people laugh so much. I let people know I love them by taking them away from the harshness of this world, even if just for a moment or two.
Sometimes, when I’m feeling down, I list three RTL’s (Reasons to Live). It may not always feel like it, but there is always a reason to live. You may have to look around for a bit, but you’ll always find it. It could be someone very dear to you or something as simple as the perfect caramel sundae. It could be the adoring dog or cat who greets you at the door, or it could be that perfectly placed cloud in the sky. Just take a breath, look around, and never lose hope that you’ll find your RTL’s.
Nique Eagen is a Bay Area transplant from Pittsburgh, PA and is a graduate of Point Park University. She is married with two beautiful cats and loves doing theatre. Nique is the author of findingthefuninad.blogspot.com and is currently in the process of starting a blog with her RTL’s, which will be found at rtls4life.wordpress.com.
Thanks, Nique for bravely sharing your story. So many of us can relate to having that mask – that other self… smiling while dying on the inside.
I’m wishing you a thousand RTLs!
I love the asthma analogy. That therapist is brilliant. There is no need to feel guilty about treating a medical condition. Nique, you are so brave for sharing your story. Thank you for being awesome!