My grandparents loved to tell stories. My grandfather’s stories of his navy life and how much traveling impacted the way he viewed the world and viewed people inspired me to travel as soon as I finished school. My grandmother loved telling stories of what it was like to grow up on a farm in the Midwest. She discussed tornadoes as if they were not a natural disaster, but part of her life. We never really get a chance to stop and look in a mirror and notice how accustomed to our bodies we have become – how we feel in our own skin, living this life that no one has never and will never get to live. We become accustomed to that life without even realizing it because we only have one. That is what makes life worth living. Some people believe that doing what everyone else does will provide happiness, as if it’s going to show up in a package on Christmas day of the first year that you receive your first bonus and have your first child. But happiness is not a first. It’s not lined up in a direct, black and white set of symbols like words on a page of a book or numbers on a graph; happiness is the tone of your book or the title of your graph. The way you think and the way you speak and the way you do things is what creates happiness. That’s the only weapon I use against my war with depression – the concept that happiness is not a moment in life or even the reason for living, but it is a state of mind that I strive to reach for. Having depression is like trying to grab your kite that’s stuck in a tree, but it’s just out of reach and even if you grab some books to stand on, it still seems just as far away.
And just like how my grandmother became accustomed to tornadoes, I became accustomed to my anxiety, and that’s not to say I couldn’t handle it. Battling anxiety is like battling a tornado inside of your body. You can secure yourself as much as you wish, but the storm will come just as strong, and if it hits you dead center, parts of you will be picked up, mangled, and thrown back down. Anxiety hurts – It physically and emotionally hurts, which is why depression tends to follow people who suffer anxiety like a shadow.
But the most important thing that I learned from my grandmother is that the storm will always pass. Whatever trauma you suffer, whatever type of panic attack you have (because they’re different for everyone) will pass. You just pick up the pieces and find a way to put them back together.