Almost everyone in my active life knows that I have struggled with depression and anxiety for a lot of years. I have tried western medicines, I have tried alternative and natural medicines, I’ve tried relaxation and meditation. In short, I’ve tried it all to beat the dark thoughts which fill my mind on an almost daily basis. None of it has come close to curing me – probably because, in my opinion, depression isn’t something that can be cured. You can treat the symptoms, you can mask the appearance of your demons, and you can hide them away, but they are always there waiting in the deepest parts of your mind to emerge and screw you over once again.
That being said, if you have a medication or therapy that is working for you, that’s great! For me, it’s not so simple.
I have periods of time where I am genuinely happy, I can laugh and smile with honesty and an open heart and mind, but lately, those days have been rare. Which is why I’m this blog has come into fruition.
People who have never experienced true depression or anxiety, have no idea what it feels like day in and day out to constantly have your demons lurking within you and never knowing when they are going to pop up to say Hi, or even why they are. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate it when you tell us you know how we feel. Or when you want us to open up and talk to you about it. We really do, it’s just some days, we cannot for the life of us figure out why you care.
We also understand that you have been down at times, we get that, we feel for you, we worry for you, and we want to comfort you. But depression goes so much deeper. It gets into your roots and it drags you down to a place you never wanted to be in the first place, but have no choice in going along.
I have been asked a few times now why I’m so depressed some days… The answer? I couldn’t tell you the honest truth. Sure, there are things that happen in my life that contribute, but to answer why I feel like nobody cares about me when it is clear they do, or why I feel like I’m not good enough for anyone or anything, or why I cry for seemingly no reason at all, or why I feel like I need to shut myself away from the world and push myself away from the people I love… They’re not questions I can answer.
Depression and anxiety for me make me feel like a walking contradiction. I want to be cared for, but when people care, I push them away. When I post anything on social media about my depression and anxiety, I feel like others will think I want attention – which isn’t the case. When I feel sad to the point of crying or wanting to sleep so I don’t have to deal with anything, I feel like I am being weak.
It causes my insecurities to inflame beyond that of the norm. I cannot honestly look in the mirror and think ‘I look nice today.’ I don’t take compliments, and when I do get them, I reply with humour to deflect the fact that I’m being spoken of in a way that I can’t process. Of course there are a few people I trust with compliments, but they are few and far between.
My anxiety has a similar effect. If you are chatting on facebook/via text/ what’s app or any other platform, and someone doesn’t answer you, or stops talking to you abruptly, you go about your day, and think ‘Oh, they must be busy.’ For me, some days, I can search back through every message I have ever sent to see what I did, or said, wrong to make that person not want to talk to me. I know it’s irrational, and I tell myself that, but it doesn’t help. This doesn’t happen as often as it used to because I have come to learn to suppress that part of me, but some days I can’t stop it no matter how hard I try.
I think the hardest part for me is feeling not good enough for anyone or good enough at anything. The thoughts constantly plague me, and I tend to give in to them far too often. I give up, or I start shutting down because my mind tells me there is no point in trying anymore. And giving up, or giving in in actual fact makes me feel worse than before, but the majority of the time, it’s too late. After all, if someone pushed you away, would you want to come back to them? Would you want to care for someone who makes it quite clear they don’t care for you? No, but the thing with people with depression is, we make out that we don’t care because we’re afraid of being hurt and spiralling out of control yet again. We don’t believe that we deserve the care and affection we are being given and that any given moment it will be taken away from us, so we push it away. It’s a vicious cycle that is hard to stop even when that is all we want.
The point of this post isn’t to gain sympathy or attention. It isn’t even about how to deal with depression. It’s about understanding what it feels like to be the person with depression. I have only ever so slightly touched on some of the feelings associated with depression and anxiety in this post, but I want people to know how it makes your mind reel with confusion and doubt, and why we act the way we do at time. I don’t want the people in my life to feel like I don’t want to be around them, or to feel anything like I do.
Depression and anxiety need to be acknowledged more often. The stigma surrounding these illness’s needs to stop and people need to take a more active role in understanding what is happening in the lives of those who suffer with them. It’s not something that is easy to live with, it’s not something that can be fixed by someone telling us ‘Just get over it,’ or ‘You’ll be okay, things always work out.’
It’s hard to live with, and it’s hard for the people around us to live with, but, there is hope that one day, things will work out. Tell your loved ones today that you care for them. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
So what can you do if you know someone who suffers with depression?
- Ask them if they are okay.
- Remind them that you love and care for them.
- Talk to them like a normal person. Don’t baby them because they’re not feeling great.
- Offer to take them out, and understand if they don’t want to go, or want to come home early.
- Ask them if they want to talk, and understand if they say no, it isn’t because they don’t want to talk to you, it’s just because they’re not ready to.
- Just ‘be there’ for them.
- Hug them.
- Let them know you’ll still be around when they’re ready.
I’m sure there is more to add to that list, but it’s a good starting point.
Trying so hard to be happy and not understanding why you’re failing.
Being tired of hating yourself, and not being able to stop it.
Being surrounded by people, yet feeling so alone.
Wanting to talk to someone, yet not wanting to bother anyone.
Struggling to unjumble the mess in your mind only to make it worse.
Having a good day, and suddenly having an onslaught of emotions you can’t process.
Wanting to stick around for the people you care for, yet being unable to force yourself to do so.
Smiling on the outside, and screaming on the inside.
Trying your hardest to make everyone around you happy because you never want them to feel what you do.
Making sure you’re there for others, yet not expecting, or sometimes, wanting anyone to be there for you.
Struggling every day to keep the demons at bay.
I get it. I live it. I understand it.