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The Metaphor That Helps Me Convey What Living With Depression Is Really Like

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When I picture my anxiety and depression, I have a very specific idea of what they would look like in the physical world.

In my hands I’m holding a fragile bubble, and with each breath of wind or small movement of my hand, it could break. I am going through life holding this bubble. I eat with it, I sleep with it, I work with it, I go to events and hangout with friends all while holding this… bubble.

If you are like me, you have a fragile bubble because of depression, anxiety, and/or PTSD/C-PTSD.

When friends or family members tell me to take one day at a time, I want to take in a deep breath and blow it out in frustration, but even that might pop this bubble. I mean it’s a joke, right? I’m doing the best I can. I’m carefully trying to traverse these obstacles that to some, who don’t hold these bubbles (or have stronger more durable bubble material), can easily navigate. My sense of frustration at myself and lack of ability to do and be more makes everything seem even more tedious and like I’m on the edge of the abyss where these bubbles go to be ripped apart.

The question I’ve been asking myself recently is:

“How do I live my life without the fear of the bubble bursting?” 

How do you get through the relationship ending that made you feel like your entire soul was breaking? How do you get through the stressful days at work? How do you sit at home alone with your own thoughts about your life and how you want it to be versus how it is? How do you do it? Life?

I sadly do not have the answer for you. All I know is I keep moving forward. I pause whenever I am afraid of my sadness overwhelming me, and I ask for help despite so desperately not wanting to need it. I am realizing that regardless of my issues:

I am worth so much more than people in the past have taught me I am.

I am realizing and repeatedly telling myself that needing help and having these issues is not a failure.

I am counting my blessing — every single one. I am no longer hating myself for my tears, my sadness, my fears of abandonment and feelings of unworthiness. I try to recognize that my experiences make me empathetic, open-minded and willing to listen to and help anyone. I could be your friend of many years, or I could be someone you just met on the street. My pain, my struggles, my trauma, my anxiety and my depression lend me the ability to hear your pain, struggles, trauma, anxiety and depression. I feel for you and that incites a desire and drive to help in any way I can.

Over the last year or so, I have been following the cliche of taking it one day at a time. I still feel such deep encompassing sadness that I have difficulty breathing sometimes. There are days I still feel hopeless that my life, seemingly a series of bad luck and events, will never get easier. There are days and weeks where my life seems so dark and pain-filled, I sob to my partner and say, “I don’t want to go on.” I still feel everything I always feel, but I am realizing and coming to terms with the fact that I am still an amazing, intelligent, loving, compassionate, supportive, funny and capable person.

My anxiety, my depression, my PTSD/C-PTSD are all a part of who I am. But they do not define me.

The fact that I may be emotionally or mentally more fragile than others does not make me a bad person. It does not make me less deserving of respect, compassion, happiness or success. My bubble may make my daily life much more difficult for me to manage, but with my gradual and increasing acceptance of needing help to organize my thoughts and feelings, of the necessity for me to communicate when my bubble starts to look like it may burst, I will manage. And there is a real possibility that this bubble may burst, and I may yet again need to pick myself up from the depth of the darkness that sometimes swallows me whole. But instead of accepting my “fragility” as the best I can do or be, I am taking steps to ensure an environment where my bubble can survive and last longer. I am trying to make sure I make myself see that I will survive.

We will all survive.

And more than surviving, some, and hopefully many, of our days we will be capable of truly living.

Getty image by HHelene

Originally published: September 25, 2018
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