There are some who have a hard time understanding a person with depression and/or anxiety. I hear all the time that depression is just an imaginary illness and anxiety is just me being too “shy”. Well friends, I’m here to try and help you understand how someone who seems to be “normal” on the outside… battles with these two very exhausting illnesses.
I personally battle with depression and severe social anxiety every day. This is something I wake up and fight Monday thru Sunday and I continue to have an ongoing battle with in my mind and the voices I hear, hourly. Yes we are all shy, yes we are all introverts in one way or another, but social anxiety is like your inner voice constantly telling you how dumb you sound, how insignificant what you have to say is. It will scream at you that you are not important, no one wants to see or talk to you, and it creates a battle field inside your own mind. Thankfully I have learned in my adult years to pretend I’m an outgoing person. I’ve also learned not to hesitate in conversation and to even step in and meet new people. For goodness sakes, my job involves constant communication with different people every single day so I had to learn, or else I would fail at everything in my life. This doesn’t take away from the mental exhaustion I feel after a particularly challenging day at work or with large and small groups of people.
Once I walk in the door to my house I instantly want to be shut in. I don’t want to talk to anyone, I don’t want to see anyone, and the only thing I want to do is tidy up my house, make my kids food and do laundry. I keep a pretty active presence on social media because it seems simple. All you have to do is hide behind a phone or a computer screen and still communicate with the outside world. I feel like the internet/social media has taken over everything and in some ways this is bad, but in my world…. it’s absolutely life saving. I have no idea what I would do if my phone actually rang while I was at home. Actually, yes I do. More times than not family or friends will call me and I will literally stare at the phone debating on answering – I’m terrified and I question “what do they want? What if I don’t have the answer? What if they want to stop by? they can’t stop by – i haven’t cleaned the house! Maybe I will text them in a couple hours and see what they needed! They probably don’t REALLY need anything!”, and by this time… the phone stopped ringing and I feel instant relief. Of course I instantly feel regret, remorse and an ongoing battle with “WHY AM I LIKE THIS!!!!!” and I begin to hate myself all over again.
My anxiety doesn’t just affect me and how I feel, it’s also beginning to affect my children’s lives, especially my oldest daughter. She very much wants to build friendships with peers in her class and have sleep overs and I want that so very much for her. The struggle I have is meeting their parents, and it doesn’t even stop there; I’m scared to have other children in my house. The noises, the messes the anxiety is so fierce that I just need to stay in my bedroom. Of course I push through these thoughts quite a bit when she has sleep overs. I always want my children to have a fun filled childhood, but the constant struggle is physically and mentally exhausting.
Meeting other children’s parents is awful because this is not just over the phone conversations, this typically is face to face. The voices start, the sweating starts, the heart racing starts and before I know it I’ve fallen into a complete panic attack filled with anger, frustration, emotional mess and I can’t calm down from it until the exact moment I finally say hello to this person I am meeting. I can’t show them I am feeling like this, I can’t put off that I’m nervous … I must use the skills I have gained over my life to make this meeting the most pleasant and enjoyable experience so my daughter can have friends. So my children don’t see the struggles I have. I pray they never feel what I feel.
I do not know where this stems from and I do not know why I have these emotions. I remember as a child being shy, but I don’t remember being scared of people and their opinions. The extreme part of my anxiety started around the age of 21. The only thing I can contribute it to is the abusive relationship I was in from 16 years old to 20 years old. He taught me that NO ONE would like me, except him.
I am also an only child.
My parents worked A LOT!
I was alone, A LOT.
Maybe these contribute…. but I don’t know. I just know I deal with it now.
Depression stems from my anxiety and many other things going on in my life. I have a hard time finding joy in certain things. I am envious of everyone around me who builds great friendships because I can’t, or at least haven’t learned how yet. I fight with the constant feeling that my life isn’t good enough, or that I’m not being the mother I should be. I also deal with thoughts of my children not being happy in their life or looking back on their childhood and realizing how shitty of a job I did raising them. I often have no energy or motivation. I tend to sleep my weekends away because the desire to get out of bed and enjoy my two days off work seems like an absolutely horrific amount of energy.
Depression is real.
I’ve often battled with the idea of medication for these two specific illnesses and I have even gone on two different types of anti depressants and anxiety medicine, but they always left me feeling like I was too dependent on something when all I wanted to do was be “OK” on my own, naturally.
I recently stopped smoking which is going… OK… I’ve stopped drinking soda and have all around tried to improve my eating habits and that seems to be working well with the depression. My anxiety is the struggle… nothing seems to help with that.
I mainly just wanted to bring awareness to those that think these two illnesses or in any way shape or form imaginary, because they are not.
It’s a family disease.
And they are real!