One definition of depression is 'a prolonged sadness and loss of interest', but wow it is soooo much more than that! So I've written this post to highlight some things that no one ever tells you to expect from depression and anxiety but are certainly a part of it in hope that it will not only help me come to terms with some of them as I start to try and take back my life from this monster, but also to give an insight for those who have never suffered, that they might understand what their friends or family might be going through.
1. First of all, depression is a liar.It lies to you, it makes you lie to others, it's a huge flippin liar!! It will tell you that nobody likes you, nobody cares, that people would be happier without you, that you're not good enough, that everything is your fault and you're a bad person. But how can someone living 4 hours away from me having a bad day at work be my fault?! Therefore, depression is also a liar that doesn't always make sense, and yet you still believe it! It makes everything your fault and piles on a huge weight of guilt to go with it.
2. This illness is NOT YOU!It may be inside your head, and consuming your mind but it's not the real you. The real you is blocked out while this black cloud takes over, the real you is trapped, fighting to get out again. It's also not your fault, you didn't do anything to deserve this, you haven't done anything wrong, unfortunately it just happens.
3. It completely changes your view on daily achievements.Sometimes very small things deserve an over reaction of excited achievement - like getting out of bed in the morning!! Or getting dressed. Or going outside for a walk. Or breathing!
4. But on the other hand it also enlarges problems...making them much more unbearable, spiralling out of control in your mind. But you keep them in because you're terrified of anyone seeing what is really wrong, scared of what they might think if they see you're struggling, so when the next challenge comes along, that spirals into a much more colossal problem than it needed to be, until eventually you're so full up of thoughts you've held on to and worried about and escalated in your mind that the tiniest little thing sets you off and unfortunately someone takes the hit or you take it all out on yourself.
5. It makes you say and do stupid things...you hurt people around you which adds to the cycle of feeling down and anxious. The thought of hurting others completely tears you up inside but depression tells you it's okay, because it pushes people away and they'll be happier without you as their friend anyway. On the flip side, anxiety is freaking out because it is not okay, and what are those people now thinking about me?!? And the real you sits there in the middle, exhausted while this argument plays out between these two loud voices.
6. It doesn't mean you are constantly sad!Sure, I have good days, sometimes I have reaaaaaaally good days. This doesn't mean that the next day I won't suddenly go back down the spiral, but it also doesn't mean I can't have a few good days in a row. So you end up feeling anxious about what bad thing will ruin your day next, who you're going to upset next. So if I'm having a good day (And its not fake) don't assume that I'm suddenly cured, just enjoy it with me.
7. Catching yourself just staring at walls is normal in this frame of mind!And it's totally okay, sometimes you need a day to sit and watch paint dry or watch the tv without really watching the tv or to lie in bed staring at the ceiling until noon. When your motivation is so low that you don't want to go anywhere, or do anything, those days happen, and that's ok.
8. Depression and anxiety togetherIt seems like a never-ending cycle of feeling down, feeling all alone and wanting friends around you, wanting to chat to someone but at the same time, not wanting to send that first message or go out and be around people either - that's a tough cycle to be in, but a very, very real one!!
9. The horrid vulnerability that anything (no matter how [in]significant) can make or break your day!This one time, I cried because I couldn't find my toothbrush!! I'll let you in on a secret, (now definitely not a secret!) I'm not really someone who allows myself to cry a lot, sometimes I'll try and hold it together for so long that all of a sudden I have a few days where I'll cry at anything, the TV isn't working, or I can't find that piece in the puzzle etc etc! So usually if I cry in front of you, I feel comfortable around you!!
10. "What have you got to be sad about?" -possibly the most infuriating thing to hear, but you hear it more often than you might think!!!
Granted, people think it will make you feel better by telling you all the good things you have in your life that you should be happy about - in reality though, it just makes you feel worse about yourself, that you're ungrateful and you're 'just being silly', it makes you feel more insecure and guilty about your mental health issue and therefore more likely to try and hide it.
11. You become a really talented actor/liar!!The phrase "I'm fine" features quite regularly. You start to live different lives, one for when you're on your own and it's safe to take off the mask, and another when you are around friends, because you're 'always smiling' and you don't want people to notice how down you are. You want to enjoy time with your friends and the only way you can do that is by putting on this act that really, isn't you at all because depression and anxiety will try and tell you that if you act how you do when you take off your mask, no one will want to spend time with 'the sad one' who is down and anxious about everything.
12. Thought you had plans? Think again!!Anxiety decides these things for you, you may want to be sociable and do your best often to just get on with it, but some days, its just not possible, you'll have plans but you'll find an excuse to cancel, or someone will ask you to do something, and everything in you wants to say yes but you just can't find the strength to be sociable. So it not only tries to ruin your friendships, it attacks peoples social life too!
13. It IS just as important as physical health!!!!
Why is it that we can accept it when any other part of our body is broken, like an arm or a leg that can be put into a cast, what about when our mind is broken? Why is it so much more difficult to understand and accept when someone is struggling mentally??
Here is a link to a video that will show you how ridiculous if we turn it round and treat physical illness the way some people treat mental illness...
I'm sure there are many more things that I will learn about depression and anxiety down the line. But one thing I already know is that talking about it and being open about it is really important, we need to get rid of this stigma so more people can talk openly about it and help each other out, people can't do it on their own, I can't do it on my own.