By Kimberly Zapata
“Can we go the park, Mommy? I want to go to the park.”
I look at the clock. It is 7:37 — 7:37 in the freakin’ morning — but the skies are clear, the weather is warm, the sun is up, and my coffee has been made. In fact, it is already cooling.
“Sure, babe. Why don’t you go to the bathroom, wash your hands, and get dressed.”
“OK,” my daughter squeals, as she runs out of the room toward the toilet. “I hope my friends are there. Mommy,” she yells, “do you think my friends will be there?”
Of course I don’t, because it is 7:37 in the morning, but I respond with one word: “Maybe!” Because who knows, she may not be the only kiddo headed to the playground at the crack of dawn.
However, as she futzes about, trying on tops and attempting to locate a pair of matching socks, I begin to worry. What if her friends are there? What if anyone is there? Because while my daughter is social (very social) and loves playing with old friends and making new ones, I loathe it. I never know what to do or how to act. I rarely know what to say, and the thought of approaching strangers and talking to them makes me ill and shaky.
My mind starts racing, my stomach starts churning, and my back and shoulders tense. My head pounds.
Why? Because I have depression. Depression and anxiety, and while the former affects my ability to keep friends, the latter affects my ability to make them. Anxiety keeps me stuck in an apprehensive, agitated, self-conscious funk.
Of course, to the untrained eye I probably appear “normal.” Hell, I probably appear better than “normal,” I probably seem “good” or “fine” because I have both friends and a social life. Because I hang out and hold it together at a work function or a cocktail party. But it is what you don’t see that matters. It is what you don’t hear that matters…and inside, I am yelling. Inside, I am screaming and shaking. I am struggling to slow my heart and catch my breath.