When My Mind Tells Me I Don't Have Anxiety and Depression
Sometimes my mind will tell me I don’t have anxiety and depression. It will tell me I’m just being a hypochondriac. It will tell me lots of people, including the people I know, have it a lot worse than me and they have problems to deal with, too.
They do, but so do I.
My mind will tell me yesterday when I was having an extra low day, I was being silly. It will tell me to just get over it and get on with my life because I’m an adult now. Adults are supposed to just get on with their lives and put up with stress. So I should stop being a baby.
This is a part of having anxiety and depression. They will both tell you you’re not being smart. They’ll tell you a lot of things. A lot of things that aren’t true.
My worries are big to me. Some of them are bigger than other worries. Some are more serious than others, but they’re all important to me. The physical symptoms, the mental symptoms, the emotional symptoms. They’re all important, and they’re all very real.
We try to cover our symptoms too often. We make out like we’re fine to people around us when generally we’re not. My boss asked me how I was the other day, and I was so close to being honest. I almost told her before I started work I had a major panic attack outside to the point where someone sat with me because they didn’t know if I was OK or not.
I was not OK. Yet, I said I was, thanked him, apologized to the man and went to work. I then smiled at my boss and said, “I am fine,” with a breathless smile as I turned and walked away. This way he didn’t see my face as it started to crumple and as I held the tears in. I felt as if I was in a box, and it was suffocating me. Yet, nobody but me could see this box. It took a lot for me to get on with my work and not just break down on the spot.
We go to therapy. We learn techniques to try to control and hide our anxiety, our depression or any other mental illnesses we’re struggling with. We always say we are fine because that is what society does. When people say, “Are you OK?” Usually, they’re not looking for an actual answer. If they are, then we lie anyway.
I’ll admit. I was messaging my friend yesterday to say just how bad I was, but this was because I was distracting myself before I got into work. My friend is the best as she understands and listens to me even when she doesn’t want to. I was losing my mind and honestly didn’t know what I was doing. Then, I made a joke and said I would be fine when I knew 100 percent I was lying. I went into work and I did my job to my best ability, and nobody noticed anything different about me.
We become the best actors when we have a mental illness. We become great at saying we’re fine. We become great at putting a smile on our face when inside we feel anything but happy. We become great at acting like other people do so we blend into society when all we want to do is curl up in our beds and cry.
All we really want is to be happy and is to be able to feel. We want to properly feel emotions that aren’t just emptiness or crushing. We want to wake up in a morning and struggle to get out of bed because it’s 7 a.m. and we want to stay in bed, not because we can’t face the outside world. We want to be able to smile and have it reach our eyes, not smile and know it is partially forced.
Now, we can have good days. We can have days when we really belly laugh, and we smile and joke with our friends. We aren’t permanently “doom and gloom.” It is just something we have to deal with a lot of the time.
So I am currently sitting in the bus station, waiting for my bus to work and writing this blog on my phone to post when I get home. If I sit and do nothing, then the anxiety becomes unbearable. The depression becomes smothering, consuming me and overwhelming so much that I feel as though a set of weights are on my chest.
This is when I start to lose it. This is when I nearly turn my back and go home to hide out in my room. Then, I have to explain to my parents why I’m suddenly home on this lovely Saturday morning when I should be at work. I’d have to explain to my boss why I haven’t turned up for my shift. Reality hits me like a ton of bricks and I drag myself into work feeling like lead because I don’t want to be there. I want to be in my room with some nice music playing distracting me from reality.
However, I can’t do that. We can’t do that. We have to get on with our lives. We have to go to work, bring up the kids or go to school. We have to participate with other people. We have to try to act normal.
This is why I wish there was less stigma and more knowledge around mental health. I wish people understood if I do say I am feeling anxious, then please give me a minute. I wish people understood that saying, “Just get on with it and stop worrying,” is not going to solve the issue. It makes us feel worthless.
I wish people would stop saying, “Smile. Stop thinking negatively. Just stop thinking about it and think of something nice. Just man up and get on with it.” It hurts and it is annoying. I’ve tried to think happy. My gosh, I have. Yet, when you’re spiraling downward there doesn’t always seem to be something happy to think of. Saying things like, “Aww, it’ll be fine,” is all fine and dandy. We know it’ll probably be fine, but that doesn’t stop our overactive imagination from imagining all the worst case scenarios possible.
I just wish people would understand us a little more. I just wish we were taught about mental illnesses like we are infections and bacteria. I just wish people would see us as normal. Most of all, I wish people would be more understanding of us and stop the stigma.
Image via Thinkstock.
This post originally appeared on Fish Out of Water 96.