Living with anxiety is hard. Living with depression is hard. Living with both is hell.
There are days when the thought of going outside on my own makes me physically cringe, and I’d rather curl up in bed with a book, avoiding the real world. But I can’t. On those days I force myself to get up and go out, no matter how much of a struggle that may be. Because the alternative is to let myself fall into an abyss of paranoid and dark thoughts. Not again.
Anyone who hasn’t experienced a mental illness simply won’t understand any of it. It’s not easy to explain either. It’s not easy telling someone how I find myself constantly looking over my shoulder whenever I leave the house, to admit to being on the verge of a panic attack just because someone is walking behind, to feel threatened if a stranger looks at me for longer than two seconds. I’m not sure I understand it either.
And of course there are those days where I feel completely alone, but more than that, I feel trapped. And useless. A cruel cycle of self-loathing starts all over again. Some people describe depression as being stuck in a tunnel with no way out. That’s how I see it too. People say cliché things like ‘oh, it will get better’ but it’s been years now and the truth is that sadly nothing has changed. Except I know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there has to be, but for some reason I can barely see it. I try moving towards it by taking a few steps each time – only to take two steps backwards.
The common link with depression and anxiety is that overwhelming feeling of being so scared that it consumes you completely. You’re also afraid of opening up to people in case they start seeing you differently, in case they start thinking you’re completely mad. And that’s what it all comes down to: isolation. None of us wants to be alone. And depression makes you feel like you are. It plays tricks on you. It makes you doubt everything. You have that constant need to be reassured, to be loved, to be appreciated, but as soon as someone attempts to get close, tries to convince you that you are loved you either push them away or you choose not to believe it. Well here’s an interesting concept: they aren’t lying. Depression is the one deceiving you. Yet we continue to listen, we continue to believe the lies.
Honestly, I haven’t found a way to block the thoughts out. It’s always there, and maybe it always will be but that doesn’t mean that I should let it win. Remember this: your mental illness can’t dominate your happiness – not forever. So what gets me through bad days? Sometimes it’s that one friend who always lends a shoulder, who knows exactly what to say at the right time. Or that family member who brings up a bacon sarnie and a good cuppa when I’m feeling low. Reading. Music. Writing. But mostly knowing that there so many others who feel the same way I do, and knowing that some people have already found the light at the end of the tunnel. And if they can reach it, so can I.
If you are concerned about the mental health of you or someone you know, talk to Mind on 0300 123 3393 or visit their website, here.
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