When ‘Good Days’ Seem Impossible With Anxiety and Depression
This morning I woke up without that all too familiar pressure on my chest. There were no thoughts in my brain telling me that I shouldn’t bother getting out of bed. I managed to get straight up, get myself some breakfast, brush my teeth and get on the bus before I even realized the change. I had done all of these tasks without thinking. For the last few weeks, all seemingly simple things have been a struggle. I’ve been battling for the motivation just to get on with my day. Most of the time, I’ve been losing the battle. But today was different. Why?
I guess this is what you would call a “good day.” I felt physically lighter as I went about my tasks; rather than having to force myself to do things, I could just do them. For the first time in what felt like forever, I was hopeful. My depression had decided to take a day off, and I was glad for it. But once I noticed this unusual behavior, my anxiety started creeping up on me.
How long can this really last? You’ll just be useless again tomorrow. You need to make the most of this and get everything done. If you don’t do it all today, you’ll end up being a failure again. You were crying on the floor of your bedroom two nights ago, that’s who you really are. That’s all you ever will be.
The absence of brain fog had given me a hopeful attitude. It encouraged me to push past the negativity that was trying to cloud my mind. I used meditation and mindfulness techniques to allow these anxious thoughts to breeze past me. Mercifully, it worked. I could carry on enjoying my good day. I was engaged in my lecture, taking helpful notes; even giving a presentation in front of my tutorial went well. It had been so long since I felt so positive about my life — it felt a bit weird. As soon as I acknowledged the strangeness of this feeling, the invasive thoughts came back again.
Things are too perfect, something bad is going to have to happen soon. You probably did a lot worse than you think in that presentation. You probably made a fool of yourself. You don’t deserve to have things go well for you. Remember all the bad things you’ve done.
This time, the negativity won out. I felt defeated. Even though I had been given a day of respite from my depression, my anxiety rushed in to take its place. Fighting it doesn’t always work. I spent the rest of the day worrying about what tomorrow would have in store for me. It couldn’t be another easy day because I wasn’t worthy of that.
Living with both depression and anxiety is difficult. They are two polar opposites of negativity, constantly waging a war inside my head. When one decides to take a step back, the other grows in strength. It leads to a feeling of hopelessness that only serves to feed both conditions.
For me, the best thing I have found is to hold on to those good minutes, hours, days for dear life. Remember them, even when your mind begins to cloud over again. You are not the clouds, you are the blue sky behind them. The weather is transient, those clouds will eventually pass. But you are permanent, and you will be able to outlast this storm.
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Unsplash photo via Alex Iby