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The Faces of Depression and Anxiety: We Are Not Alone

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I know I’m not alone when I say I’m struggling. I’ve been struggling and the day came to finally do something about it.

Anxiety has had a presence in my life since I was a young girl. Unfortunate circumstances and stressful times dealt me a hand of heavy responsibility and crowded emotions. We all have a story, one that’s left us helpless and scrambling. However relevant it may be, that story isn’t the focus of this. The damage is done, and time ticks on. Life carries on. Here we are.

There I am, a young adolescent, moving through the drudgery of life. As I look over my shoulder, I build a defense so the past never repeats itself, a wall sturdy and strong. While I calculate my plans and analyze those in them, I steer clear of any opportunity to feel pain or hurt. I am being introduced to anxiety, although I won’t know it until my late 20s. It’s there from a young age, and grows as I grow.

Anxiety feeds me insecurities and fear. It gives me sweaty palms and a racing heart. It keeps sleep from me and wakes me with thoughts that don’t make sense, but they somehow do in the dark quiet of the night. It depletes relationships and group gatherings. It hinders my role as a wife and mother. It takes from me my confidence, all that was left of it anyway.

Depression introduced itself to me as a young adult. I’m maneuvering through my 20s, feeling like the world is my oyster (if only I could manage this anxiety better.) When my nerves get the best of me and my anxiety gouges me with fear, depression is there.

Depression hovers over me like a fog, fog that has the potential to develop into thick, dense, rain clouds. Showers pour over me without knowledge of why it is so dark. I search for light, and when I find it, the clouds eventually follow. This feeling is foreign, yet familiar, reminding me of darker times as a child. I want to run from that feeling as fast as I can, but it always catches up.

Depression feeds me anxiety and irrational thoughts. It engulfs me in a feeling of being overwhelmed. It gives me sadness and loneliness. It keeps me isolated and unproductive. It takes me away from my family, both physically and emotionally. It provides me a dark hole to hide away in, in pain and achy from stagnation. It places me in the dark, gives me back to the light, only to return again, again and again to take me away.

I’m tired of leaving. I’m tired of missing out on life, because “I just can’t.” I’m exhausted.

I see myself suppressing the anxiety and depression. Everyone else sees my smiling face. My mask I wear it so well. I see myself running on a hamster wheel, trying to keep going. Trying to keep my mind busy from the thoughts that attack me time and time again. Everyone else sees a woman who is accomplished and can do it all. The pressure is suffocating.

I see myself running the rat race and beating myself up when I fail. I see my abilities and potential flying out the window, landing on the opportunities that pass me by. There’s no way I could attempt anything more than I’m doing, which feels like absolutely nothing. I see myself rationalizing the feelings and dismissing them as if they’ll soon be gone with each passing circumstance.

After I finish school, I’ll be fine. After we move, I’ll feel better. After this, after that, everything will be OK. But it’s not.

And I’m not alone.

I finally hit bottom, sitting at the edge of my bed alone with my thoughts of failure as a mother and failure as a wife. I pick up the phone and call my doctor. I walk into her office sweating, on the verge of tears. I sit down with a racing heart and blood pressure so high, you’d think I had just taken five shots of espresso. I sit in her gaze, crying and asking for help as she compassionately asks me the hard questions.

She confirms I am a therapist.

“Yes, an intern,” I affirm.

“Wow,” she replies.

“You should feel so proud of yourself for taking this step,” as she writes my prescription.

I am proud. In this moment, I am more of a helpless child, but proud I am. As long as it’s taken me to get here, it’s not because I think I am exempt. It’s not because I don’t think it can happen to me. It’s not because I am embarrassed. I needed to have a moment of clarity, a moment of realization that I can’t actually “handle” this or “manage” this on my own.

It was an emotional bottom that no one sent me into, not my kids, not my husband, not family or friends. It is no one’s fault. It was my depression and anxiety. They ganged up on me and attacked me all at once. I thank them for that. If it weren’t for that bottom, then I wouldn’t have made the gigantic step I did.

And I’m not alone.

I’ll never be alone in this struggle. I do not stand alone. I stand with a brave and courageous legion, who fight for their lives every day by using therapeutic interventions and medicine. Now we stand together to fight the stigma.

We are not alone.

Depression and anxiety does not discriminate. Every gender, every race, every size and culture suffers from these debilitating disorders. It’s OK because we aren’t alone. We have each other, to rid the shame and embarrassment from our minds and the stigma from our society. I am not ashamed. We are not ashamed, and you don’t have to be ashamed.

Because you are not alone.

A photo grid of multiple women's headshots
It is my gratitude and honor to include the beautiful faces of women I call friends, who also battle anxiety and/or depression. We are not alone.

Please find my courageous fellow writers’ and bloggers’ social media links below:

Alison Tedford at Sparkly Shoes and Sweat Drops
Bianca Jamotte LeRoux at Real Mommy Confessions
Jorrie Varney at Close to Classy
Christine Suhan at Feelings and Faith
Susanne Lewis Kerns at The Dusty Parachute
Mary Katherine at Mom Babble
Emily Krawczyk at The Laughing Lesbian
Kimberly Zapata at Sunshine Spoils Milk
Bonnie Guy at Unrestrained Laughter
Sara Farrell Baker at No Purple Walls
Ashford Evans at Biscuits and Crazy
Denise Scott Geelhart at Adventures of a Jayhawk Mommy
Eran Suds at Good Mother Project
Kathryn Leehane at Foxy Wine Pocket
Jill Eitnier Silvius Dinos, Daydreams and Lollipops
Gina Marie at Stage Too
Alyce Kominetsky at One Word at a Time
Jenny Ball Tufford at The Happy Hausfrau
Shannon Parry Johnson at Joy in the Works
Jennifer Bly at The Deliberate Mom
Mary McLaurine at Sassy Lassie
Chelsea Nelson at Mommy Makes
Steena Hammer at The Angrivated Mom
Elizabeth Broadbent at Manic Pixie Dream Mama
Kristen Flerl Eleveld at The Plucky Procrastinator
Rachel Bledsoe at The Misfits of a Mountain Mama
Jessica McNeill Azar at Herd Management
Glynis Ratcliff at The Joy of Cooking (for Little Assholes)
Sam Wassel at Between the Monkey Bars
Kristi Rieger Campbell at Finding Ninee

This post originally appeared on Appetite for Honesty.