The Contradiction of Living With Anxiety and Depression in 17 Photos
It’s two contradicting energies that seem to work both with and against each other. While depression brings you down, making everything feel pointless and cold, anxiety amplifies the importance of the very things you’re avoiding, pushing you in between, “I don’t care,” and, “I care too much.” Mighty community member Alexandra J. described it this way:
It’s like having two different people inside of your head. You have the anxiety that makes you panic about the smallest things — like the house being dirty or being late — and it makes you hate yourself. But you also have depression that tells you there’s no point doing anything because it’s all worthless anyway, so you stay in bed. But while staying in bed you’re also freaking out about everything else going on, you just don’t have the energy to sort it out.
We wanted to put a face to this experience, so we asked members of our mental health community to share a photo that shows what it’s like living with both anxiety and depression. If you can see yourself in their photos and words, know you’re not alone. Anxiety and depression may be different beasts, but they can both be tackled and managed just the same.
Here’s what they shared with us:
1. “I’m too exhausted from my depression to really keep my place in order. I would love to be able to organize and clean it. I would love to be able to invite people over. I’m actually very uncomfortable around gross and disgusting things, and don’t like it when anything is dirty. I’m also very lonely, and would love to socialize in the comfort of my home rather than try to force myself to go out to some bar or something like that. But, even when my depression isn’t holding me back, the moment I start to clean up the place, my anxiety takes over, and I feel incredibly overwhelmed. This, of course, triggers my depression once again, because I feel so inadequate and incapable. It’s embarrassing.” — April R.
2. “Due to anxiety, I drive around or sit in parking lots at gas stations, stores, beach ramps, fishing spots… (anywhere people are) waiting for the crowd to leave. Probably looks like I’m casing the joint or being a creeper.” — Todd B.
3. “‘High-functioning’ anxiety and depression… It’s all well and good getting up and dressed for work/school run/life. But the energy it takes to carry on for a job and be a mum winds me up in bed by 7 p.m. unable to shut my mind and thoughts up, or spending my days off with the curtains drawn and phone off just to hide away and recover from life.” — Hollie C.
4. “How I smile when I have the good days… some days it’s a lot harder to smile and some days it’s a lot easier.” — Annas B.
5. “I have both MDD [major depressive disorder] and several anxiety disorders including GAD [generalized anxiety disorder] and social anxiety. Some days I just can’t cope and break down and cry, other days I can’t get out bed, constant ruminating thoughts that distract you from everything else, but everything is not black and white. Try and present myself as ‘normal’ to the world by masking it all under makeup and trying to fake a smile but some days I can’t even.” — Allison M.
6. “This is a picture of me with my daughter when she was a newborn. I have suffered with anxiety and depression my entire life but after she was born it hit a peak. I had both postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety. Every time I looked at her, I would burst into tears, thinking I was failing her. All I could do was lie in bed and whenever I got out of bed I would be too exhausted to do anything. It was the most terrifying moments of my life and every day I remember that feeling and have to fight to not slip back.” — Kelly C.
7. “Almost every day with depression and anxiety. Usually 20 minutes before I have to leave for work I get up to get ready. Sometimes I have my cat on me. This is usually where I return to before bed. Most days it’s extremely hard to leave this couch. I do try, I just can’t.” — Mandi W.
8. “Living with both depression and anxiety is like your mind is against yourself. You have so much you want to accomplish and so many things you need to get done. But you can’t. You can’t get out of bed. You can try and sleep it off. But when you wake up you’re racked with anxiety about all the things you could be doing besides lying in bed. Your bed is your comfort zone, you feel safe, like nothing bad can happen if you stay in bed all day.” — Rana A.
9. “There is a constant battle going on inside my brain; a never ending war between anxiety and depression.” — Jade B.
10. “This was me last year. I had just finished helping a youth group plant flower bulbs and actually was having a genuinely good time (which is rare). Driving home myself I was overcome with emotion and was sobbing uncontrollably. It kind of freaked me out because usually the only feelings I have are anger or apathy/lack of feeling. I desperately wanted to post this picture on Facebook to share my struggle, but didn’t dare. I figured people would just think I was looking for sympathy.” — Brian W.
11. “I always hide both my anxiety and my depression from those around me until it is so bottled up I end up falling apart. I feel like I am not allowed to feel unhappy or sad most of the time and when that happens my mind spirals further down into the darkness, but I hide it all with a smile or I make a weird face. Can’t let people see my weakness now can I?” — Kasi W.
12. “Living with anxiety and depression means I always look away… Depression causes me to look away from the things I like to do… Anxiety causes me to look away from the things I have to do.” — Tristan K.
13. “This one comes with a little bit of an explanation. I got so anxious during a test I started crying. Now usually I wouldn’t but this happened to be at the time of a depressive episode. This was the aftermath of such an exhausting day, being completely numb.” — Alyssa D.
14. “I did this artwork during a deep depressive episode not long ago, accompanied with anxiety. It’s a self portrait of my inner emotions and turmoil. See, depression for me is like an invisible heavy weight that feels impossible to shift. It consumes you whole and steals any light that I have inside of me. And anxiety, it takes all my troubles and worries and intensifies them by 100 percent. This artwork, it’s surrealistic, it’s odd and bizarre to look at, but in one way or another, if you struggle with depression or anxiety, you’ll be able to relate somehow.” — Emily W.
15. “This is the face of constant sadness and despair. I can’t even look you in the eye because I don’t want you to look at the abyss that is me.” — Lucas P.
16. “Having a very heavy weight on you that you wish you could get rid of but also you must keep it from falling apart.” — Erika F.
17. “No sign that I literally had to force myself out of bed and took the last shuttle the resort offered to Disney, or that I took the first shuttle back. No sign that every time someone walked past me I was worried they were going to attack me in some way. No sign of constantly scanning my surroundings, just in case I need to get out in a hurry. Nope. Just a happy smile at ‘the happiest place on earth.'” — Sophie M.