Andie M. Hayes

Author | Artist

Filtering by Tag: fear

Let's Talk About Depression

Something most people know about me is that I have an invisible illness. Endometriosis. Endo is what inspired me to write my first memoir. Endo is what has kept me fighting all these years to become a stronger, better me. But I actually have two invisible illnesses—four or five if you count the things wrong with my head. But one is much more common. Migraine.

Last week I had something terrifying happen. Half of my body went numb. My face tingled. My head spun. The pain in my head felt like the pounding on a bass drum. I thought I was having a stroke. My family thought I was having a stroke. At 28 years old. I was rushed to the ER.

Come to find out I had a rare type of migraine. One yet to be defined. Atypical or hemiplegic we’re not entirely sure, but it was terrifying to say the least. You know what else it was. Straining on my families’ relationships. Sure we love each other and I know they want what’s best for me, but in those moments after my incident, I felt alone even when I was surrounded by family. And I think anyone in my situation would have been too, to be honest.

Let me explain. When I was in the ER my aunt never physically left me alone except to put a fire under the doctor’s behinds. At home, my grandfather constantly came to check on me. My mother, who lives out of town, came back to Georgia to make sure I was okay. My dad and sister, who also live out of state, checked on me constantly. I was never actually ALONE. But in in the depths of my mind I was.

In my mind no one was doing enough to help me. But that’s what depression and anxiety do to you, even when you are taking your meds. They make you think that you’re alone no matter what others are doing to help you. I was terrified of what was happening to me and it felt like no one understood. How could they? It wasn’t happening to them. It was happening to me.

Depression is an uphill battle. And adding anxiety to the mix brings a wave of paranoia to the show that no one ever expects. So all that, mixed in with fear, literal paralyzing fear, and what do you get, kiddos? One angry, defensive, immediately shutting down, manic depressive person that will not and cannot express herself like the college educated adult that she is.

That’s depression and anxiety.

Depression is more than just “being sad”. It’s not being able to function when you need to. It’s not being able to sleep when you need it most. It’s not eating, but gaining weight anyway. It’s shutting people out when you need them, but not realizing it until it’s too late. It’s crying for 36 hours straight and not being able to explain why, but not feeling any emotion at all while doing so. Depression is exhausting. And it is always there.

Which is why in the ER with my aunt, I all but shut down. I retreated into myself and stayed there…for days. I’m just now starting to come out, but even still I’m afraid. Afraid that my freak incident will happen again. For days I was afraid to drive. Terrified that it would happen while I was behind the wheel, killing me and someone else. What if next time it’s worse? What if next time it’s so bad it really is a stroke? What if next time I don’t get to the hospital in time? What if this is my new normal? Why do these things keep happening to me??

Anxiety is pretty screwy too, ya know.

But that’s where having a stellar support system comes in. And I really do have one of those. My parents are pretty great, but don’t tell them I said that. And my grandparents are the best. My aunt and uncle tend to be good in a bind too if I do say so myself. I have great friends, that even though they’ve been weeded down, they’ve been trimmed down to the best of the best. Sometimes things work out in ways you never expected them to.

But honestly, this post has been really hard for me to write. I don’t talk about my depression much or my anxiety for that matter. Those things are personal. More personal than the woman’s disease that invades my ovaries. But we need to talk about mental health more. And I feel, for me, this post, feeble though it is, is a start.

I hope to write an essay to add to my endo stories about my depression soon. But that may be too hard to come by. Who knows, maybe my support system will jump into action and whip me into shape one more time.

 

Endo-Me-Tri, "Oh, Sis!"

So, yesterday an old college friend asked me about endo and infertility. I answered his question and then I thought to myself: “When did I become this big endo expert??” Since getting diagnosed with endometriosis 4 years ago I’ve had anywhere from 10-15 people—some close friends, some friends that used to be close, others people I barely know—ask me about endo. The questions have varied. Some folks have thought they had endo themselves, some have thought a family member or friend had it, some just had questions about how it affected me in general, but all had questions, questions for me.

That’s when I realized, I haven’t become her, this great big expert on endometriosis. I am her. Let me back up for a minute. I’m not saying I am the end all be all of endometriosis information because I’m not. I’m really, truly not. There’s SO much I don’t know about this disease raging on inside my body that it scares me half to death; but, at the same time, I am endometriosis. What do I mean? I’ll tell you.

I am strong. I am resilient. I am determined. I am resourceful. I am angry. I am fueled by the pain that lives deep within me. I am the very thing that has taken over me and I have taken that pain and made it my own and I am using it to make myself stronger and more powerful than I have ever been before in my life. I am all the things endo is, but better. New. Improved. But, I’m also beaten down. Sickly. Defeated in so, so many ways.

As I write this I’m being treated for walking pneumonia. That’s right, kids. Pneumonia. In the middle of summer. Well, I guess it’s “technically” still spring until June 21. But whatevs. It’s Georgia and it’s swampy and it’s hot and I’m totally getting off topic. Endometriosis!

Basically, this post is to say thank you to all of you who have come to me for advice about endo. Thank you for feeling that you can trust me with your health concerns. Thank you for not ignoring my pain and taking my story at face value, but for really taking my journey with endometriosis to heart. It really means a lot when people come to you and ask for advice about something as serious as a chronic illness and I didn’t realize that until I got here myself. When people ask me about endo I don’t feel like less of a person. I don’t even feel like a sick person. I feel like someone that can help others because of my unique situation. I couldn’t do that before.

Please don’t confuse this for me saying that I like being sick. In no way, shape, or form do I like having endometriosis and adenomyosis, but I have found a slight silver lining and that’s being able to help others get through their diagnosis or prediagnosis every once in a while. Having someone to help navigate through the mess surrounding endo is a blessing I didn’t have when I was being diagnosed, and so I like to be there when I can.

So please, keep asking and I’ll keep helping. Let’s keep the conversation flowing. Let’s keep the conversation simple. But mostly, let’s keep the conversation about endometriosis open.

Fear and Reasonable Doubt

So the past few days have been pretty big for me. I submitted to four journals and pitched to five magazines, which for me is HUGE. I’ve been writing for YEARS. Literally years. Maybe since I was eleven or twelve and sure I’ve had some stories published. A few in my college literary journal, one in a friend’s journal post college, but I’ve always been terrified of publishing beyond that. I mean, yes, I am a published journalist. I wrote for a magazine for three and a half years. The entire tri-city area and beyond has read my work so the question still remains: Girl, why are you so scared?!

And to be honest, I don’t have an answer. I guess it’s the same fear every artist has. The fear of not being accepted. The fear of not being liked. The total and complete fear of rejection. Yes, that’s it. Rejection. I’ve only been rejected twice. And both times were when I tried my hand at poetry. Honestly, I knew I’d get rejected. I’m no poet. I’ve never been one and frankly I don’t even like poetry enough to try to write it. I’m an interviewer. A person that likes to get down and dirty with the details. A storyteller. Always have been, always will be.

But, I’m also an artist. A terrified artist. It’s not as if I haven’t been trained properly, because I have. But for some reason the confidence that I’ve needed to show the world my true raw talent never built up the way it needed to. People love my art…they just don’t love my prices. That’s not my fault, right?

Making it is hard. As a writer or an artist. Try doing both. stares. But I’m learning that in order to make it. To really, really make it you really do have to put yourself out there. SO guess what kids! Andie’s been doing some very hard things lately!

First, I’ve been writing and painting like a mad woman (those things aren’t necessarily hard, but they are very, very important to the task at hand). I’ve been researching journals and magazines that fit my art and my endo stories. I’ve been working non-stop with my mom-editor on pitches, cover letters, author bios—things they DO NOT teach you how to do in undergrad mind you. I’ve been eating, sleeping, and dreaming success! I’ve been teaching myself to become FEARLESS!!

I’ve been thinking about those guys that talk about going out there and grabbing success by the gnads, ya know. And I’m doing it. Now, do I know if Oprah will write me back? No! She probably won’t! But, I wrote her! I PITCHED AN ESSAY TO OPRAH WINFREY’S MAGAZINE, Y’ALL! And you know what, I’m excited about it! Not about the fact that she might like my idea (I mean yeah that’s exciting too) but just by the sheer fact that I finally had the guts to do it. I was finally confident enough in myself as a writer to say “you know what, if that girl can do it, I can too”.

And I finally, FINALLY took the leap and stopped doubting myself.