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The Words I Use to Describe My Depression


Fighting, battling, dealing with, surviving, suffering from, beating… these are all different words you often hear placed in front of the word “depression” or other mental illnesses. For the sake of trying to think positive I will omit “succumbing to” and a few other, equally depressing alternatives. Each of the above words and phrases have come out of my mouth over the past two years. And at the moment each one was applicable and what I believed. Just in the past few weeks I am becoming more aware of my thought process when choosing the words I use to refer to my mental illness.

I’ve been quieter than usual as my exhaustion and frustration with my situation yet again came into focus. That’s when I’m struggling or suffering from what I have come to think of as my enemies — ones that live in my f*cking head. There is often no time to retreat and rest and refuel. And at that point I can honestly feel like holding up a white flag or throwing in the towel. I hunker down and usually don’t want to talk or share what I’m going through. I feel pathetic because my depression and/or anxiety are getting the best of me. I have learned so many skills and tools, to use a metaphor (which by now you know I love me some metaphors), I believe I have been trained by the best military weapons instructors and equipped with top of the line artillery, yet since I am often alone on the battlefield (or at least it feels that way), I can’t really win. Then I begin to wonder why I am schlepping these weapons and wasting the specialists times with additional training. 

And then, after hiding in my foxhole for a while and realizing I can’t spend my life underground, with trepidation I peek my head out once more. Sometimes I retreat for a few minutes or hours, or when the depression or anxiety really mess with me, I can go into hiding for days or weeks. Luckily, each time I have taken a break from the fighting, battling and surviving, the people around me, both professionals and friends and family, are there to encourage me to get back on the battlefield. Many of them I am happy to report, realize when I have retreated and know I might need to be thrown a rope or given more ammunition to continue my fight (that’s where the texts, coffees and walks really help). Often times someone will join me and serve right beside me. I am watching so many friends, many whom I have met in recovery, who are having their own battles. We who are in the trenches are able to give each other pointers and strategies to advance on our enemies. We are fighting over our minds and emotions and each of us is embroiled in a war that really is for our lives and the quality of them. If you know someone struggling, please help them back on their feet. Figurative yellow ribbons and care packages can do a lot to boost morale even if you don’t see the results immediately.

For me, I know that without my support system, I would not have the hope for the possibility of recovery. Today I am starting fresh and lacing up my combat boots and getting ready to reengage my own personal enemies — depression and anxiety. I hope to spend the rest of this seemingly never-ending episode using my war synonyms. I look forward to writing I have beat my depression, or at least that I have conquered it and we are surviving together.

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