For those of you who struggle with a mental health issue, you know how frustrating, confusing, and exhausting it can be, especially when you have other stressful things to worry about in your life. We know the struggle all too well, so this blog isn’t necessarily for us. This blog is for those who aren’t as familiar with it and don’t fully understand what it’s like. I want you all to get the inside scoop on what it feels like when I go through a spell of depression and anxiety. This will probably be one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written because I’m usually not this open about myself, but I guess that’s the point of Let’s Flourish Together. I want to grow with my readers as we become better educated on topics of importance and become the best versions of ourselves, and that requires vulnerability and honesty. My hope is that after you’ve read this blog, you’ll know a little more about me and have a much better understanding of what it’s like to suffer from depression and anxiety. Understand that what I’ll be sharing in my blog is specific to me — not everyone who deals with this feels the same way I feel or has the same experiences.
For starters, let’s define the two terms. Depression is “a condition of general emotional dejection and withdrawal; sadness greater and more prolonged than that warranted by any objective reason” (Dictionary.com). Anxiety is “distress or uneasiness of mind caused by fear of danger or misfortune” (Dictionary.com). It’s a very common misconception that depression must be caused by something, but that’s not always the case. Most of the time, when I get depressed, usually I have no clue what triggered it or why I’m feeling that way. It’s like going out for the day expecting sun, but out of nowhere it starts pouring down raining, and you’re stuck outside without an umbrella. It’s completely unexpected, and I usually don’t have a clue that it’s coming until it’s already staring me in the face.
Most people who don’t fully understand depression will say, “Well, why don’t you just go do something that you enjoy so that you’ll feel better?” Honestly, it’s not that simple. For me, it’s a struggle to even get out of bed, so to get up and go out feels impossible. Lacking the energy to get out of bed can sometimes mean that you won’t eat, shower, or brush your hair until you gather up the strength to swing your legs off of the bed, push your weight onto the ground, and get up. Yes, it’s literally a struggle.
For those of us who go through this pretty regularly, talking about it with our loved ones can be pretty challenging. Don’t get me wrong, I want to talk to my mom and my fiance’ about how I’m feeling, but it’s not easy. It’s like trying to explain something you learned in an anatomy class that you barely passed ten years ago. Explaining my feelings is difficult because it’s hard to talk about something that I don’t fully understand myself. The best thing that you can do as a loved one if you know someone that struggles with depression and anxiety is to be a listening ear and make yourself available to talk. However, understand that just because you make yourself available to talk, that doesn’t mean that the person will want to talk. Just let it be known that you are here when they need you, and keep that promise if they ever eventually need to talk to you.
Anxiety is quite challenging to deal with as well. I tell my family all the time that it feels like my mind is trying to poison me, and it sounds all dramatic, but that’s the best way to describe what it feels like for me when I’m experiencing this. I’ll give you an example. I know in my heart that my fiance’ loves me 10,000% and will stick with me through whatever happens, but my brain will try to challenge that even after being together for almost six years. It’s as if there’s a voice in my head that constantly tries to poison my mind with bad thoughts. It’ll say, “He loves you now, but he’s not going to deal with this forever. All of the spells of depression are going to be too much, and he’s going to leave.” Now, my fiance’ truly is the most amazing, supportive, and caring man that I’ve ever met, but my brain doesn’t care. It doesn’t acknowledge what my heart knows. It just takes my fear of being a burden on others and makes me think the worse.
I’m not using these things as an excuse — I just want to inform you all of what it feels like to be in this position. It’s hard, but I do understand that it can be just as hard for our loved ones who don’t understand but want to do whatever they can to help. For me, personally, I ask for patience and guidance. Be patient with me because it’s an internal battle, and there are consecutive days where I feel like I’m always getting armored up for war. Guide me because feeling alone can be the worst part of it; I’m open to advice, random messages of positivity, and acts of kindness.
If you know someone who struggles with depression and anxiety, please reach out to them more than just one time. I know life gets hectic sometimes and we tend to forget, but keep those people in your thoughts and prayers. Let them know that you’re thinking of them so that when the anxiety hits and their heart begins to go to war with their brain, the heart will have a better chance of winning because of all of the love and affection you’ve consistently shown. Not saying it will work every time because, as we all know, anxiety doesn’t work like that, but every effort helps. Also, don’t be afraid to ask what they need or want from you to make things easier on them. Just as I need patience and guidance, your loved one might need something much simpler or even something a little more complex.
Now, before I send you off to go about the rest of your day, please understand these final two points that I want to emphasize:
- Depression can come when someone dies, you lose your job, or you go through a bad breakup, but depression can also come when everything in life is going really well too.
- Not everyone who is depressed is suicidal, so don’t assume that your loved one is thinking of committing suicide. However, understand that suicide is a thought for some people. If you ask your loved one if they have suicidal thoughts and they say no, the only thing you can do is believe them and let them know you’re there for them regardless. If they say yes, let them know how loved they are and be there for them.
Thank you all for reading this blog; I know that this one was a bit heavier than normal, but I feel like it needed to be said. Feel free to leave me any comments or questions you have, and I’ll be sure to answer them as best I can.
“That’s the thing about depression: A human being can survive almost anything, as long as she sees the end in sight. But depression is so insidious, and it compounds daily, that it’s impossible to ever see the end. The fog is like a cage without a key.” — Elizabeth Wurtzel