How Depression and Anxiety Feels Like Walking Uphill and Against the Wind

“Walking uphill and against the wind; that’s what every day feels like with a mental illness. Regardless of the weather and what’s going on around you, it’s still hard. You have moments of peace and acceptance, followed by annoyance and frustration. You’re sore the next day from your journey, only to do it all over again. There are days when you can almost see the top and peer out over the landscape, invigorated and relieved, so you keep going. There are some days your illness will ride on your shoulders and bring you to your knees, but you don’t give up. You will never give up. Eventually, there will come a day when you reach the top of this hill, only to find another one in its wake. This is life. This is mental illness. This is living.”

This is a passage I wrote during the dark days on my anxiety. The constant racing thoughts and irrational fears had beat me into a deep depression I thought I’d never come out of. This was when I realized I needed help, and I found some. Throughout anxiety treatment, one thing remains constant — you have good days and bad days. When I went into treatment, I assumed I would get a magic pill and everything would be alright again, but that’s not how it works. Why? Because we need anxiety to survive. Even people without anxiety have the capability to be anxious in a stressful situation.

I used to wish, on my birthdays, that my anxiety would go away forever. How sad, right? I didn’t know any better. Learning about the biology behind anxiety and the reason it exists helped a lot with learning to cope. When I understood that anxiety was just a reaction to a perceived stressful event, I also learned that our body has programmed ways to calm us down, just like it works us up. “Fight your emotions with your knowledge,” is what my therapist used to say.

What is going on inside our minds is like reading a book to your body. As you think things, your body reacts to them, almost like watching a movie. You can choose how to react to certain thoughts and emotions which will condition your mind to cope better later on. These tidbits of information, along with a lot of self-coaching, has made it easier to cope when I feel like I am spiraling downward into the circle thoughts of anxiety. One thing every person living with anxiety should be aware of during their journey: you will have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks, good months and bad months. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you don’t feel like going out with friends one night, just don’t make a habit of it. Don’t feel pressured to explain yourself when people don’t understand what you are going through.

Stay positive and keep positive people around; the bad days will come to an end. This feeling you’re feeling will go away, even if it takes longer than you’d like. Eventually, before you know it, you will be walking downhill and with the wind.

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