Ok so a little bit off the normal theme of the page.
I have been seeing a lot of posts recently regarding mental health in people these days, in particular around handling depression and anxiety and I have decided now is a tip-top time to share a wee bit about me.
Over the past 5 years I have been diagnosed and treated for depression and ridiculous amount of anxiety, from panic attacks upwards and I wanted to share a little bit about what that actually has been like to live with, and dealing with it on a day to day basis as I thin it is an incredibly unknown issue amongst young people today, and a growing issue, if my experience or thoughts on the subject help one person than this has been a worthwhile thing to have done.
Firstly I want to talk about what people ‘view’ depression as being. There is this Hollywood picture of it as being ‘withdrawn’ and unable to socialise normally, and crying whilst looking out a window watching the rainfall on a lonely night. Now I am not saying that these things do NOT happen, but that is not the reality that the majority of people I know, or I, have faced whilst dealing with our own depression. Some people call what I have as ‘highly functional depression’ or ‘normalised anxiety’ and I think this is something a lot of people deal with.
For starters I rarely cry…. When I was diagnosed I had been fighting for years with a lot of issues, the death of my father, difficult relationships at home, a divorce, but I was also doing my day job, every day, without fail. Many of my friends view me as the joker in the room, the real energy that could lighten up a room, and I loved that… But it was not strictly true.
My highly functional anxiety took the form of a little voice, we all have them (hopefully not just me) who forms your internal dialogue… Mine was, and is still, a vicious little bastard who gets in the way of everything I tried to do.
It is a constant dialogue in your head, circling round and round telling you that “You are worthless, you are not good enough, you are a bad friend, why would anybody love you?, you are pathetic, whatever you do will be terrible, so why try….” The list is fairly endless, and the above is some of the nicer ones…
Now you have to understand what this dialogue does to your day to day life… Simple things, like really basic, easy things, become impossible. You keep yourself eternally busy to not have to deal with things and in the end get nothing done. You fill your day with anything, running, training, writing, showering, tv, you lie to yourself and tell yourself it is for fun, it is for productivity, it is what you want. The saddest reality is that it is nothing more than an itinerary designed out of desperation to distract your brain from the noise in your head, the 200mph never ending noise.
And on the outside, I am calm, nobody else hears it.
These are 24 hour panic attacks, hidden so well behind smiles. Anyone close to me who you spoke to would describe me as busy, so busy working towards my dreams. And yes, to a point that is true, but a lot of it is merely misdirection.
Whilst I am busy I also avoid so much, so many basic things. Emails, easy friendly ones, can take weeks, and to this day I do not know why, I just sometimes can’t deal with them. I rarely answer my phone, very rarely actually, even if I am sitting on the sofa, don’t get me wrong, I will phone you back, but when I am ready, 30 minutes later. I will let things pile up rather than reach out for help.
Part of it is a fear to say the wrong thing, and I do occasionally, I think we all do. The problem is when I do, it wrecks my head for days, weeks, years. Now my father died 12 years ago this year, and I can still vividly recall arguments, things I said etc which still feel as raw as when he had only passed 6 months before. When I am in conflict with something, work, a friend, family member, I play out the worst case scenario over and over and over again until I can feel my heart pounding in my chest…. It is relentless.
So how do I deal with this?
I don’t all the time.
Sometimes, like whilst I am writing this, it is hell, a genuine hell. The difference is that I sought the help required to help me deal with it. I have control mechanisms in place to help me through things and if anything, I have learned to channel it and retieve a sense of normality in my life.
For those of you who are not ready seek ‘professional’ help or don’t think it would help in any case, let me break down a few of the lessons I have learned, hopefully it will help.
You need to admit, if only to yourself what you have depression or anxiety, call it out for what it is, there is absolutely no shame in it, none, nada, you will find out soo many more people you know have struggled with it, or indeed are stuggling with it. It is the validation of your feelings that will prove to be a massive help. You may not feel you are enough, or will ever be enough, admitting you need help doesn’t confirm the inner voices opinion of you, if anything it strengthens you to shout back at them that YOU ARE worth it.
I know that one of my biggest struggles is social media. Everywhere I look, everyone has it together, doing brilliantly, better than me anyway, their shit is locked up tight and I know I am a blubbering mess… I want you to realise though that is the futility of Facebook, of Social media. Everything we read is a projected persona of a reality we want to convey. Instagram filters hide the spots, holiday photos and inspiring quotes are not peoples deepest, darkest secrets, it is not the voices. God knows I do it all the time, because ‘why the hell would anyone else want to hear about how I feel today’.
We can get out and talk about this, and speak to friends, family, and you will be amazed how far you can come out of this.
Depression and Anxiety are silent killers, they ruin lives. The “bad” news is that it is rarely a fight you are ever ‘done’ with, anxiety is not the flu, it takes willpower, it takes daily fighting, however when you give it it’s real name, and find a place for it in your existence, and stop letting it ride rough shot over your life, it can get awesome…
I do hope that this is relatable to at least one person, please leave a comment or share it for other people to read, you just never know who you might help by doing it.Thanks for reading. Feel free to message me here and I will be happy to have a chat.