What I Wish I Could Tell My Mum About Anxiety and Depression
Mum: “I’m lonely…”
… even in the house, even at a party surrounded by a group of people, I feel lonely. I feel abandoned. I hate being lonely because that’s when the thoughts appear.
Mum: “I’m dying.”
This is what I want to say to you when I’m in dark moments engulfed by anxiety and panic. My heart is pounding so hard I can hear it in my ears; my mind is racing, buzzing back and forward trying to fight with my body which feels cold, yet hot and alive. Sore, yet dead and numb. All I want to do is scream, “Help, I’m dying!” but instead I go silent and tell you nothing… because imagine telling a mother her son is dying.
Mum: “I’m scared.”
Every day I wake up afraid, afraid to leave my bed in case I do something that might hurt myself or others. Mum, I’m a coward afraid of life — the life that you gave me with all your heart.
Mum: “I’m hungry.”
I’m hungry not because I need sustenance, but because while I eat I’m happy. Food is one of the few things that gives me any sort of comfort. It’s familiar and it fills a gap.
Mum: “I’m OK.”
This is a lie. I’m never OK. That smile on my face is just a mask, a decoy, a farce to hide my pain and depression; that laugh, well if you don’t laugh you cry and laughing calls much less attention than crying. Mum, my depression and anxiety are always in the back of my mind, always leaving me in a state of fear and panic. So no, Mum, I’m not OK. But I don’t tell you that. I just remain silent and try to ignore everything.
Mum: “Help me please.”
Every day I want to scream this out loud and ask for help, but how?
Mum, I need space to breath! (You have enough space.) Mum, I need to calm down! (Where are you going?) Mum, I’m sorry, but I tried to tell you to stop, that I needed air, that I needed to escape, but you didn’t let me. (Why did you break that?) You must understand that when you’re questioning me, what you say is nothing new. I already hate myself, and now I feel like you do too.
Mum: “I’m tired.”
I’m not tired because I only got four hours of sleep last night. I’m tired because my brain never shuts off. I’m tired of living. I’m tired of being afraid and lonely.
Mum: “Can we go home?”
Mum, I know to you it’s only going shopping or out, but to me it’s much more. To me, going out means panic attacks. I hate the fact that everyone else seems to have some sort of manual given out at birth on “how to function in society,” and I just didn’t get it. Instead I got “how to look bad in front of people” when I’m out of the house and anxiety engulfs me. All I want to do is go home or go to a quiet spot and pretend I don’t exist.
Mum: “Why don’t you listen?”
Mum, I’m incapable of talking about my problems to you because I’m afraid of the outcome. Just because you can hear me doesn’t you’re listening to me.
Mum: “I hate myself.”
I hate myself because I can’t keep good habits. I hate myself because I’m fat and unappealing to most because I eat my feelings. I hate myself because unlike my friends, I can’t “just” leave the house. Instead I sit afraid in bed mapping the pros and cons of getting up. I hate myself because I have no one to tell me otherwise. I hate myself because I’m being selfish and ungrateful. This is the body you gave me, and I don’t appreciate it enough and so for that….
Mum: “I’m sorry.”
I’m sorry for being the way I am. I’m sorry for either being too emotional or basically dead inside. I’m sorry for having fought with you and all the bad things I’ve said and done. I’m sorry for the way I’ve behaved growing up. I know it wasn’t easy, but you want to know what? It hasn’t been easy for me either, Mum. Living with mental issues is a burden I wish on no one.
Mum, you are the strongest person I know. A true iron lady and one of the many regrets I have is that I’m not as strong as you. I need your support.
Getty image via Brian Niles