Why Love Can't Save Me From Depression and Anxiety
Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.
I’m loved and adored — of this, I’m sure — by my family, my friends, mentors, teachers… they remind me of this fact daily. I’m beloved by God, and I’m dearly loved even when I don’t feel like I am.
But knowing I’m loved is not enough to make my depression go away.
Love is not enough to make me not anxious about the future, the past or the present. As much as I would like for love to be enough to cure me of all my ailments — mental, physical and emotional — it’s just not.
Love was not enough when panic attacks kept me up every night for three months.
Love was not enough when I cried nightly in fear I wouldn’t wake up the next day — when I refused to sleep in fear I’d die before I woke up in the morning.
Love wasn’t enough all the times I’ve thought the world would be better off without me.
Love wasn’t enough when depression grabbed hold of me after quitting student teaching, or in middle school when I was drowning in fear and apathy and loneliness.
Love wasn’t enough when I felt alone in a crowded room.
Love wasn’t enough to save me from me.
There are so many times I’ve wanted love to be enough. No need for counseling or medicine or vulnerability required when friends ask how I’m really doing. If the love of my friends and family was enough, I’d never struggle with this crap. But it’s not.
Love isn’t enough for anything else; we can’t love physical illness or injury away. We can’t love mental illness away either – it’s not called illness for nothing.
If love were enough, I wouldn’t be anxious about my next chapter, no matter how excited I am for it.
If love were enough, I would not spend my nights terrified of having more panic attacks. I wouldn’t pray for God to wake me up the next morning because I’m unsure if I will or not, and it scares the living daylights out of me.
If love were enough, I’d never have to worry about the feelings of hopelessness or loneliness or darkness that surface when I’m struggling. They’d never appear because love triumphs over those things — but not when your brain works against you.
If love were enough, I’d never have to take medicine to fix the chemicals in my brain that try to convince me to self-destruct. Every. single. day.
If love were enough, the voices in my head that tell me I’m not enough or forgotten or unworthy would never interfere with the voice of God’s, calling me beloved and welcomed and wanted.
But love isn’t enough for me to overcome this hell on my own. I can’t love my broken brain into healing. Love helps. Love heals parts of me. But it doesn’t fix. It doesn’t cure.
Love – and being loved – is an incredible thing, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not enough to save my life.
I love that people love me – without it, I wouldn’t be me. But it’s not what makes me better.
I have other things (like medicine and therapy and sharing my story) to fight for with me. I have strategies and plans for when my anxiety goes haywire and I don’t know where to turn. I have friends I can call or text when things get muddled by the darkness and I begin to feel lost. I have God to lean on and cry out to, even when that involves me screaming and crying about why this is what’s been given to me to struggle through.
The last thing I need someone saying to me is: “oh, but you’re so loved, how can you be depressed? You have so much going for you, how can you be anxious? How can you be depressed when you’re so loved?”
I am so loved. I do have a lot going for me right now. But that doesn’t mean anything to my mental illness. I could be in the happiest time of my life and it would still steal my joy (and it has). It doesn’t care about what’s going on or who I am or how loved I am.
It’s a thief that steals and kills and destroys. It’s a liar that makes me believe what it says, no matter what other voices say.
And it doesn’t care one bit about how loved I am because it will do everything in its power to make me feel as unloved and useless as possible.
Love is not enough. It will never be enough for me to save myself.
But I sure do wish it was.
Follow this journey on the author’s blog.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.
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Thinkstock photo via berdsigns