Todays word of the day challenge is anti-. Interesting word.

When I think about choosing to be anti- about something my first thoughts are anti-hate, anti-violence, anti-hunger…the big picture, humanitarian causes, but when I dig deeper, I have to say that in my life, the things that I really am most anti- about are trying to live days with positive thoughts and life affirming emotions, in other words, anti-anxiety and anti-depression.

I live with both and fight daily to keep them at arm’s length. My weapons include medication, exercise, yoga, meditation, positive thinking, reframing and affirmations. My armory in my castle is well stocked, but sometimes my arsenal is not enough. I know that having a predisposition to mental illness is not my fault. I know it is a chemical imbalance in my brain, but it is difficult not to blame myself or feel shame and guilt over the negative changes in my mood that appear for no apparent reason, seemingly out of the blue.

I have days filled with great joy. I find many things to feel deep gratitude for. I focus on the good in my life and embrace the moments that I am blessed with along with the simple pleasures that make me smile and laugh. These are the things that make life worth living. But then, like thunder and dark clouds in the distance, threatening to overtake the blue sky and sunshine, there is anxiety and depression.  I have little control over it, much like the weather. It is bigger than me, dark and menacing. Sometimes I know what triggers it, these changes in my perception of the world and myself and I can successfully use my weapons to keep it at bay, but sometimes it just comes and engulfs me and I have no means or energy to fight. Sometimes it wins the battle, but I fight hard enough that it will never win the war.  In mental health circles, depression is sometimes referred to as the black dog. In my life, my black dogs will obey me and sit quietly at my feet, at my command.  Someday, they might even leave my side and find a new home. I do not wish their presence on anyone. They are loyal to a fault, but not in the way you want. They are not sweet, cuddly or friendly. They are not a pet to be adopted, so please, if you can, stay clear of the animal shelter with the big black dog.