The Small Part of Anxiety and Depression That's Always in Me

This article was originally published by Active Minds and was written by Colleen Coffey, a member of the Active Minds Speakers Bureau who speaks to schools and groups nationwide about mental health.

I think mental health issues exist on a spectrum. I mean this, of course, in the context of the range of issues we all face and the spectrum of severity of diagnoses. I also mean this as it relates to how issues appear within us.

The best analogy I can think of when it comes to mental health issues is a Russian nesting doll. A little doll, inside of a medium sized doll, inside of a larger doll that presents to the world. Usually, the larger doll is me — the best version of healthy, happy me. The little doll is anxiety and depression — it’s always there but kind of little in comparison to the rest of me.

Most days I feel great and my quality of life is pretty awesome.

Some days I still struggle.

Even after years of being well — I still struggle.

I have learned over the years how to manage that struggle. Whether it’s sadness or stress or worry or grief — I know how to feel those feelings, deal with them for what they are and not let them rule me.

But the truth is, some days I feel like dying.

These are days (and they are few and far between) when I can’t get ahold of what I am feeling. When the little doll — the depression and anxiety — seems stronger than the real me. These are days when I couldn’t feel sadder, when I couldn’t possibly be more anxious, when I could not feel more out of control. These are days when I just want to give up.

Do I really want to die? No.

I just don’t want to feel that out of control anymore. What I really mean is that I want the feelings to stop. Those feelings that can seem so impossible to manage. Those feelings that are out of the realm of what’s real and good in life.

Most people who die by suicide don’t really want to die — they just don’t see another way out. I’m here to tell you that there is another way out. All that feelings do is change, but living and dying are both immutable states of being.

The way out is in.

The way out is about having the courage to tell someone you are not OK and to seek help at the first signs of feeling out of control. The way out is to learn how to cope with things that seem impossible and to continue to surround yourself with people who love you. There are so many resources available that specifically address suicide prevention.

Dying is not the best option. It means that the world misses out on you. Whatever it is that you are going through, there is hope and I promise it gets better. It will stop, you will feel better, you will get yourself back.

The world needs you here — stay with us.

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.

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