What It's Like Living With Both Depression and Anxiety

21k
21k
31

Depression is like a sinkhole. One minute you’re standing on firm ground, and the next minute you’re falling into a pit of darkness. Depression is crying over something simple, like dropping a glass on the ground and breaking it, but not crying when something drastic happens, such as a family member passes away.

Anxiety is worrying too much about things we have no control over. Anxiety is like a river. It never stops flowing. Sometimes, anxiety skyrockets and we end up feeling too much, but it can also dry out. Then we don’t feel like constantly worrying, moving or being busy. A river never stays dry for too long — it always becomes alive with water once again. Also, a river will erode away at the walls encasing it, just as anxiety will eat us alive.

Depression and anxiety together is like staying in bed and skipping school because you don’t want to deal with anybody else. Then, worrying for the rest of the day because you don’t want to fail. Having both is like wanting to go out and hang out with your friends, but then talking yourself out of the plans because you don’t want to have to make the effort.

Did I work too hard on this project? I shouldn’t have put this much effort into this. Stop being such an overachiever!

Just stay quiet, it’s not like anyone is listening to you anyways. I mean, do you really think they care?

Alright, I’ll just go in here and pay this bill. I’ll be right out into the car. No one will be looking at me. Right? Right?

I don’t feel like getting up today. No one will miss me.

I missed the test today! Oh no, what if they won’t let me retake it? I knew I should have gotten up today. Oh no.

Look at yourself, do you really think you’re worth all the trouble you make?

I’m going to go through self-checkout. No one has to talk to me. I don’t have to stutter over my words. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Depression doesn’t just show up when something bad happens. For me, it’s always about the little things. Someone will look at me wrong. I drop something on a bad day. The weather will affect me. Even just thinking about something from the past will trigger me. But something bad can happen, and I won’t feel as affected. Then, the depression will build and just burst one day over something simple as shutting a door too hard.

Anxiety isn’t just something people make up because they need an excuse as to why they work too hard or try too hard. Anxiety is a motivator for many of people but for all the wrong reasons. Anxiety pushes people too hard for little things, such as a poster project in school, a practice writing exam, their looks, how they dress, what they eat or how they do everything they do. Anxiety convinces people they need to be and look a certain way in public.

Can I not just have one damn day where I’m content to go into public with just sweatpants, a baggy tee shirt and a messy bun? Do I always have to put on makeup, wear some tight fitting jeans, a nice shirt, do my hair just to go to the dollar store? Am I conceited or do I just care too much?

Sometimes, depression will win over my anxiety. I will go into public dressed in those sweatpants and baggy t-shirt. I will look like a complete mess and I won’t think anything of it, until I wake up fully, later in the day. Then, I will be consciously wrapping my arms around myself, shying away, scolding myself in my head for looking the way I did.

Can I not wake up one day and just be happy and content with who I am?

Is it that hard? Are you sure you’re not faking this for sympathy?

Why would you be depressed? You have no reason to be depressed.

Anxiety is just your excuse. Grow up.

Waking up every day is a struggle. It’s like waking up with an elephant on your chest and having to move around and act normal with that extra weight on you. Anxiety will never be an excuse. Anxiety is me. I am anxiety. It is a part of me. The same goes to depression. Depression and anxiety are two of the things I would never wish on anyone, even my archenemy.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

21k
21k
31
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

When Anxiety Becomes the 'Am I?' Syndrome

244
244
1

It’s summer. A time for renewal and relaxation. Except I can’t relax because I’ve been worrying about everything. This summer, my anxiety has kicked into major overdrive.

Six weeks ago I worried about whether or not to start my 6.5-month-old on solids (I did).

Four weeks ago I worried about whether or not I should stop breastfeeding my now 7-month-old (I did).

Two weeks ago I worried about whether or not I had remembered to sign my 5- and 3-year-olds up for swimming lessons (I didn’t. Oops.).

I’ve spent the rest of the summer wondering:

Am I wasting my summer? Because I haven’t written enough or read enough books or gone to the pool even once.

Am I spoiling my children? Because I let them watch Netflix every morning and eat crackers on the couch.

Am I feeding them the right food? See “crackers on the couch.”

Am I reading to them enough? Because I try to read Harry Potter to them every night before bed, but it’s rarely ever the cozy experience I imagined it to be.

Am I playing with them enough? Because I’ve only played catch with my son once this summer.

Am I playing with them too much? Because it’s important for them to play independently, too.

Am I letting them watch too much TV? Because I turn on Netflix every morning, so I can sleep in just a little bit.

Am I spoiling the baby who’s still waking up every night? Because the lack of sleep is killing me.

The list of “Am I?” questions never stops. With every decision I make, I question what I am doing. This is what my anxiety does to me — it’s dark and it makes me wonder if I am enough. After a lot of soul searching, I know I am not. I’m trying to be OK with that. As a perfectionist and typical “type A” personality, it’s hard for me to accept mediocrity. And I realized I can’t do it alone, so I’m finally getting help.

I saw a therapist a few years back for depression and anxiety. At the time, I was able to cope through journaling and exercise. Now, I barely have time for a cup of coffee much less journaling and exercise (as I’m writing this, we are driving across Canada and I’m multi-tasking by writing and soothing the now 8-month-old baby who’s been in the car far too long). I’ve started new meds. It’s too soon to tell, but I’m hoping these will work and help change my never-ending questioning to something a little more positive. Aside from meds, I’m working on a more positive mindset. While I’m still going to struggle with my constant wondering and worrying, I’m slowing trying to replace “Am I?” with “I am.”

I am reading — this summer, I’ve read four Stephen King novels and am re-reading the Outlander series.

I am spoiling my children — a little bit here and there.

I am feeding them the right food — they love fruit and yogurt.

I am reading to them — most nights, we read a few pages of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

I am playing with them — but I let them play and fight with each other.

I am letting them watch TV — because a good television show is almost as good as a good book.

I am spoiling that baby — because he’s the most beautiful baby in the world and he might be my last.

Image via Thinkstock.

244
244
1
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Anxiety Is a Director, and I Have the Leading Roll

15
15
1

Another take? “Do I really have to do this again?” I ask.

“Yes, but this time, his blood is draining from his head into the ditch while it’s raining. Then, you get the call from the officer that your husband has died! Now action!” she barks.

So I do my job. I go there in my mind. I imagine my husband splayed out on the highway, blood draining from his bearded face. My stomach knots and my throat tightens. I nearly break and cry actual tears.

Suddenly my husband walks in the door, and the real act begins.

“Hi Honey. How was your day?” I ask all perky and happy.

I show no trace of the agony I have just been through. For now, he is home safe, and the director has to shut her mouth and wait her turn, for now. She will be back soon though. She is very prolific, a creative genius really. I am so amazed at the amount of troubling and terrifying ideas she comes up with, and the range of emotion she elicits in me is inspiring.

With just a word or picture or smell, I am there, completely engulfed in it. Not to be immodest, but I am really good at my job. I have the passion and range to give her just what she wants. It’s a powerful partnership that is inspiring, motivating, controlling, but her endless ideas and my big imagination have spun out of control. I mean, she has four to five of my family members dying every day, and often, one of them is me! Do you know how exhausting a death scene is, especially when you have to hide it from everyone?

Some people have caught on and they try to be helpful. They say:

“Kick her to the curb!”

“Just ignore her.”

“Have you tried writing her a letter about how you feel?”

They mean well, but they clearly do not understand the complexity of our relationship. I have gone years without working with her, and then one day, she shows up at my door, persistently begging me to come back and telling me I’m the only one who can handle the job. It’s a lie, of course, but her flattery puts a wedge in the door. Eventually, I give.

Then, she creeps back in like a bad ex-boyfriend, and I am left crying, sick and exhausted. So I think I’m going to renegotiate my contract. Sure, she won’t like it, but I deserve some creative control! I’m going to ask her to collaborate. Let me come up with some ideas for once.

Maybe not a “Happily Ever After” ending, but not an “Everyone Must Die” ending either. How about a “Happy for Now” ending? Just maybe, we could play out the tragic scenes with me overcoming, instead of being overcome. Yeah, I like that. Oh that’s her knocking again. I’m going to do it! I’m going to tell her. Wish me luck!

“Hello Anxiety, we have to talk.”

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. 
 
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. 
 
15
15
1
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Dear Anxiety: Today I Take Back My Own Mind

420
420
1

Dear anxiety,

Today I let you go. You do not rule me.

You are a part of me, and your existence I cannot deny, but you do not have the final say.

I will breathe through the panic, through the pounding in my chest, the dizziness and the sound of blood pumping in my ears. I will survive, again and again; you will not win. I will not be beaten by that which my own mind created. You are a resounding voice in the back of my mind saying over and over how I am not enough, how I will always fall just short. You are fear and hesitation, the isolation that has kept me locked up for too long.

But today I say enough.

Dear anxiety,

Today I take back my own mind, even if just for a bit. There will be times when I stay inside because the fear of being seen is too great, times when the panic attacks come back unbidden and unwanted. But this war has not been won, and you have underestimated me. I acknowledge you for what you are, an opponent as strong as the day is long. But you are a monster of my own mind, and therefore you cannot be stronger than me. You are a part of me, but that also means you are smaller than me.

Dear anxiety,

Today I let you go. I am staring into the face of fear, but I will not blink.

Today I become the master of my own mind again.

Image via Thinkstock Images

420
420
1
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Illustration of woman using gold paints on white background

I'm Not Scared to Talk About My Anxiety Anymore

82
82
0

I have a friend who visits me sometimes. He often just drops in unannounced. Sometimes he stays way longer than he is welcome.

He doesn’t bring anything except fear and worry.

When he’s around, I feel like I’m just treading water.

I ask him politely to leave, but he hangs around, waiting to drag me down.

I make him a hot drink, but it’s never got enough milk. I bake something, and he tells me all the ways I could have done it better.

He brings the world news with him and explains all the reasons why I should be scared.

I would hide him from people and delete his messages, but he would always find a way to get to me, and he always uses the disappointed emojis.

He’s a hell of a guy, that Anxiety. And I hear it’s not just me he visits either.

Anxiety is a weight in the pit of your stomach, a million tiny little things you worry about and can’t get out of your mind. It keeps you awake; it knocks the wind out of you. Being a parent with anxiety means there are extra things around you to make you equally scared and worried. Everywhere you look. Sometimes I felt I was “crazy,” the amount I’d worry and lie awake at night waiting for something bad to happen. But I’m not. And you’re not either.

We don’t talk about it enough. We hate burdening people with our problems, as mothers, sisters, friends and daughters, so we bottle it up. We don’t want people to think we can’t cope, so we hide that Anxiety guy away in our cupboards. But he always finds a way.

I’ve realized I’m not scared to talk about it anymore. I want people to know they’re not alone. She could be your neighbor or the checkout girl at the supermarket or the mailman. Anxiety doesn’t define you — it’s just a part of your journey, and it’s nothing to feel ashamed about. It’s unfortunately more common than you might think.

So together, let’s stand up to Anxiety, that lying bastard. We are stronger and bigger than him.

Follow this journey on T Is For Twins.

Image via Thinkstock Images

82
82
0

RELATED VIDEOS

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

A Conversation With My Anxiety

421
421
0

Emily: Hey, how are you? You’ve been kind of M.I.A lately.

Anxiety: I don’t want to talk about me. I want to talk about you. I heard you got a D in one of your classes and barely scraped C’s for the rest. Not doing so hot in the scholarly world, are we? What a huge disappointment. That’s not even average, and mediocrity doesn’t cut it. I also heard you have no idea where you’re headed in your career, or life in general.

Emily: Look, I’m… I’m taking care of it! I have an internship this summer, and everything is going to be fine. I might be stuck in a rut, but figuring things out isn’t that easy, you know.

Anxiety: But you’re trembling, dreading the future’s arrival because you don’t know what it holds for you (that is, if it’s holding anything for you at all). The lack of control and perfection is paralyzing you. Your internship isn’t exactly industrial, and while your friends are gallivanting abroad or building relationships in the corporate world, you’ve failed to do either. You suck at school and in the work force. Can you even say you’re a part of the work force? After all, that internship is unpaid and you don’t do much.

Emily: What the heck man! I do a lot and I love my job! My coworkers are nice and treat me like an intelligent individual. I…I don’t suck! You’re a jerk.

Anxiety: They’re faking it, all of it. So are your friends and classmates. Trust me, I’m usually right about these kinds of things. You’re a useless peer and that uselessness poisons your family life, too.

Emily: Stop! Leave me alone! Leave my world alone!

Anxiety: You need me to keep it all in perspective, Emily. What good would it be for your character if I left you with this false impression that you don’t have to stress about your relationships or feel like you’re going to lose the people you trust the most? I can’t let you get too comfortable. It would only blow up your ego and damage your sense of humility.

You’re too privileged for me to let that happen. You really think when your family looks at you, they’re proud? They’re not proud. They’re aghast. They’re ashamed. Your dad held multiple jobs that took him away from home. Your mom left work to run a smoother household with more attention, more love. Do you think failing to keep calm throughout your youth is rewarding to them? You screwed up, Emily. You are the screw up.

Let me break it down for you: Your parents? They’re disappointed in you. Your sister? She thinks you’re a loser. Your auntie? She wonders how a girl can be so god**mn lazy.

The only reason why your friends keep you around is because your self-deprecating humor is mildly entertaining. They fell in love with the light-hearted Emily, but if they were ever introduced to sad, desperate Emily, they would leave as quickly as they came. I haven’t even mentioned your love life yet. I mean, if you had one.

Emily: Please, don’t go there. I’m choking on my own tears. My head is pounding from the pain. My chest is sinking. I can’t feel my face, and my hands are cold and sweaty. I’m tired.

Anxiety: You’re nobody’s first choice. You’re a back up plan, at best. You may have thought he was cute and kind, but you were a fool to catch feelings for someone you’ve just met. You want attention from someone who won’t give it to you. Pathetic.

Emily: Are you done yet?

Anxiety: You don’t ask the questions. I do. Are you done with this suffering yet? Because I know what I do to you. First, I pay you a visit while you’re working toward a goal, like a project or something. Then, I sit at your side, gazing at your silhouette, wondering what gives you this illogical idea you can accomplish the task at hand.

So then I stand up and peer over your shoulder. I watch you for a while, and then leave. I continue this for several moments, several days because I have a plan. At the end of a busy period, I pay you another visit, but this time, I don’t want to sit at your side and gaze upon your form. I engulf you.

I hold you and shake you back and forth so that your pen falls from your hand and your glasses drop to the ground. Your heartbeats are erratic. Your breaths are more shallow. Your face is prickly. Your hands are numb. It’s enough to make you done, isn’t it Emily? Are you done with me, with reality?

Emily: No, I’m not. I’m not done with you because you’re not a reality to begin with.

Anxiety: Excuse me? I don’t think you understa—

Emily: Oh, but I do. Anxiety, you feel real. All the things you said you do to me, yes, it does happen. When I was kid, you didn’t have this much strength. I remember you trying to peer over my shoulder all the time, but when we locked eyes you would cower behind the shadows and run away from me as fast as you could.

Anxiety: But, but this isn’t about me, this is about—

Emily: Me, I know. And I’m telling you there was a time when I could make you get lost with just one powerful, intimidating glare. Unfortunately, that glare has dimmed over the years. I want it back, and I can get it back. You scare me and hurt me, but you don’t own me. You’re a part of my life, but I still posses the power to vanquish you.

Anxiety: But—

Emily: My family loves me. My friends think I’m pretty cool. My classmates have generally enjoyed my participation in class, and my co-workers think I’m rather helpful. It is you, not me, that must face the truth, to understand you need me more than I need you. The only way you can be my reality, Anxiety, is if I let you.

421
421
0
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

8,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.