Panic Attacks

The room is too small and the walls are closing in

I can’t breath

My lungs are collapsing under pressure from this

elephant that has planted it’s beautiful self on my chest –

The world is spinning faster and faster –

I’m on a tilt.

My fingernails dig into the rich earth,

searching for a hold,

something to keep me from falling into the blackness lying below –

I scream

But no one can hear me because

my mouth never opened.

– Chan Eliza

You Are Not Alone

“What reason do you have to be depressed?” “You’re so young, you don’t even know what real problems are, believe me, you’re not depressed.” “You’re just over reacting.”

These statements only begin the list of doubts I heard from not only strangers, but even family and friends when it first became apparent that I was struggling. Struggling being the watered down term I began to use when depressed caused people to tip toe around me as if I were made of glass.

While it didn’t take much to admit to myself that I was depressed, telling others was another story. I knew that people wouldn’t believe me. And even worse, people would.

To this day, several years later, my history with depression isn’t a story that I tell very frequently. There is such a stigma around the word, especially for young people. People immediately want to know every reason you have to explain why you are depressed. They think that just because you are under the age of twenty five, your life requires their expertise to determine the legitimacy of your mental illness.

Dozens of therapy sessions and many long nights crying later, I can proudly say that I survived my battle with depression. But that was just one fight. The truth is, for most, depression is a long war that has to be fought many times before it’s truly won. But the difference is, I’m not scared this time.

I swore to myself after I was quote on quote determined “cured”, that I wouldn’t speak of my depression publicly again. The truth is, I’m not even certain why I am doing it now, but what I do know, is that there are way too many young kids hiding in their rooms, suffering, afraid to tell anyone because they are afraid they won’t be heard.

I remember all to well being sixteen with my head between my knees in the corner of my room, sobbing into a pillow in hopes that no one would hear me. Just as awful, I remember the days that I couldn’t cry at all and my body felt numb.

I know I am just one person in billions. But we all are. If nothing else, I hope this post makes you think. I know it’s different from my previous poems and stories, some even uplifting and inspirational. But the truth is, if I hadn’t been able to make it through my very real depression, a depression many people didn’t want to recognize existed in me, then I wouldn’t have been here to write these posts.

You’re not alone. Your depression is real. You can beat it. Thankfully for me, I had very loving parents and an amazing best friend that pulled me through to the other side, while I kicked and screamed right along side them. But many people aren’t as lucky. All it takes is for one person to say “This is real. This is not in your head. This is scary, but you are going to be okay.”

Be that person.

Please leave me a comment, let’s start a discussion. And please, feel free to share. The world needs you.

What Anxiety Feels Like

When I was a little girl the monkey bars at the school playground were my worst enemy

They were out to get me, I know it because

All of my friends could crawl across them like they were born to scale buildings but

When it got to my turn the bars became fire and my hands were sticks

At the first touch I would burst into flames

Imagining falling three hundred feet to my death with no one there to catch me –

Of course –

When I did fall, that one (or ten) times

There was always someone there who would catch me

In their outstretched arms as if they knew the whole time

That I would not make it to the other side

Now the other side is my own happiness

And the monkey bars, the dreaded monkey bars

Are my own mind

A burning fire living and breathing to take me down into the depths of an ocean

And I can swim pretty well

But I never learned how to stay afloat above waves ten feet tall

I don’t know if I can get across

But shouldn’t I be able to? – because all of my friends did it

On their first try

They are smiling and I don’t think they have to think about how to move their face muscles into the correct position just to prepare themselves to do it

They are talking and I don’t think they have to prepare themselves five minutes for the simple interaction of saying Hello

My worst enemy now lives within me

Getting to the other side looks like it should be so simple

But I have felt the heat of the flames too close for comfort licking at my hands

And what if I catch fire?

I hear “Someone will be there to catch you when you fall”

I can see them below me

With their arms outstretched

An army of ants swarming beneath with the sole intent of breaking my fall

Before the fall breaks me

Why do I need a safety net?

Shouldn’t I be able to cross without the help of these warriors who seem to be able

To handle their own lives so well – why do they have to handle mine too?

My mind, this anxiety, these monkey bars stretch before me

It is not that I don’t want their help

I have depended on others for too long

The fire is licking and the ocean is raging and my heart is pounding

But for fucks sake I am going to make it across this time

And I won’t need anyone to catch me

– Chan Eliza