One of the many delightful* things about having Depression and Anxiety is occasionally and unexpectedly feeling like the whole goddamn world is a heavy lead blanket, like that thing they put on your chest at the dentist when you get x-rays, and it’s been dropped around your entire existence without your consent.
Physically, it weighs heavier on me in some places than it does in others. I feel it tugging at the corners of my eyes, and pressing down on the center of my chest. When it’s really bad, it can feel like one of those dreams where you try to move, but every step and every motion feels like you’re struggling to move through something heavy and viscous. Emotionally, it covers me completely, separating me from my motivation, my focus, and everything that brings me joy in my life.
I live with Depression and Anxiety. I take medication, I practice meditation and CBT, and I see a therapist regularly to help me handle it. It doesn’t control my life, and it doesn’t define my life … but when it’s really bad, it sure feels like it does. When it’s really bad, it feels like it is the only thing in my entire life, the Alpha and Omega of my existence.
And so it was on Saturday. I’d felt it a little bit during the week, but I honestly couldn’t tell if it was the slow, relentless suffocation of anxiety, or if I was just really tired. I also have occasional mono flareups, because that lives inside my body, and it could have been that, even. The fun** thing about anxiety and exhaustion is that, for me, they feel largely indistinguishable from each other, and one typically feeds the other in a perpetual motion cycle that is horribly efficient.
But by Saturday, I felt terrible.I didn’t want to be a victim, and I didn’t want to be a prisoner in my own life, so I took a walk that turned into a run that turned into a walk, that turned back into a run. It was really hard to keep going, but I did it, and while I was out on the road, listening to my playlist and exercising my body, I tried to use the rational part of my brain to objectively look back on the week, and figure out what the hell happened to open the anxiety floodgates. I got a ton of writing done, and I enjoyed every bit of it. I’m super proud of the work I’m doing, and I think I’m going to have something that’s worth publishing when it’s finished. I don’t feel creatively stifled like I did as recently as a month ago, so that couldn’t be it. I even had an audition I didn’t expect, for a role that I was perfect for, on a show that I love, that —
And there it was. The audition.
If you’re one of those people who decides that talking about this is whining, please stop reading this now and go fuck yourself.
I auditioned for this show about a year ago, and I nailed it. I know that I nailed it, because the producers told me I nailed it, and they wanted to wait until there was a larger role on the show for me, instead of using me to play a character that was in and out in a single episode. So when they called me back for a different role last week, a role that was on a few episodes and was right in my wheelhouse, I thought “this is the thing they were talking about! This is the thing I am going to book!”
For at least ten years — a fucking decade — I never book the job, so it’s really, really hard to go into auditions and not feel like Charlie Brown running toward the football. But this time was different. I prepared, I did a great job in the room, casting told me I did a great job in the room, and I even asked my friend who is on the show if they wouldn’t mind putting in a good word for me.
I had the audition on Wednesday, and for most of thursday, I let myself feel hopeful. But by the end of the day, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. I felt like an idiot for getting my hopes up, I was embarrassed and humiliated that I asked my friend to help me out, and I felt like a jackass for letting myself believe that this time anything would be different.
So that’s where all my anxiety was coming from. That’s why I didn’t sleep well all week. That’s why I felt the lead apron of Depression and Anxiety fall over me and wrap itself around me: I let myself feel like it could maybe happen, while I was simultaneously trying really hard not to get my hopes up.
I realize that to anyone who doesn’t have the stupid fucking mental illness that I have this seems really, incredibly, profoundly stupid. Most of being an actor who auditions is about being rejected, passed over, not chosen. It’s just the math of it.
But I let myself believe that this time was different. Just like I let myself hope that the time before it was different.
But it’s never different. It’s never going to be different, until it suddenly is different, and there’s nothing I can do to make that change … but I have to hope and somehow believe that this time it will be different, or I may as well hang it all up.
and that’s why i feel like i’m suffocating.
*not at all delightful
**not at all fun