When Multitasking Hid My Depression and Anxiety From Others
I battled depression and anxiety for 12 years before talking about it publicly. I shared my struggles for the first time just over a year ago.
I never (consciously) hid my struggle; I just never really shared it. I, like so many others, wore a mask to cover my bouts as they would ebb and flow. I was the master multitasker and overachiever; there were few obstacles I couldn’t overcome, and this wasn’t going to be one of them. My depression was simply going to be one more thing on my to-do list I would cross off at the end of the day.
Being a mom, especially a working mom, only complicated matters. There is only so much time in the day to get everything done, and everyone depended on me to get things done. There was soccer practice, school projects, doctor appointments, dinner to be cooked; all the responsibilities moms take on because we feel an innate sense to take them on. I didn’t have time to be sick, let alone deal with the torment that ripped through me and often propelled me into darkness.
I worried if people were clued into my internal battle, they would deem me weak and incompetent. I didn’t want to let anyone down, and I didn’t want to be judged. Instead, I went about each day trying desperately to hold it together. I had everything going for me, and I truly believed that a total breakdown or the appearance of a crack in my façade could (and would) jeopardize all I had worked for. Unfortunately, when you don’t let anyone in on your “secret” is when the darkness can take its strongest hold because you feel the most alone.
So I managed my work and my family and tried to deal with the consequences of the depression and anxiety. The bouts often left me with feelings of resentment toward my husband and resulted in angry outbursts against my children. I would find myself crying uncontrollably in my car or in the shower because the burden was so heavy. Sometimes I could almost feel the weight crushing my body, and I lacked the energy to fight for freedom.
So why did I finally share my struggle publicly? In early 2015 I was on a good path until I suddenly found myself in the throes of another bout with the depression and anxiety. The struggle was the worst I had experienced in nearly four years, and it brought me to my knees. I was paralyzed with darkness and decided not to battle it alone any longer.
I realized that wearing a mask to hide my struggle did more harm than good. I am not weak or incompetent because I battle depression. And I might be more valuable to others who are wearing a mask by not staying hidden behind my own.
I no longer battle the depression alone — I let it out instead of keeping it in. I have found peace and relief in asking for help. I know I am stronger, not weaker, for being open and honest about my battle.
Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images