The Mighty Logo

Living With Anxiety and Depression Is Like Fighting a Daily Battle

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I sometimes like to pretend I’m an Mixed Martial Arts fighter when a bout of depression or anxiety attacks me or the one I love. I imagine depression or anxiety have taken shape as a solid thing I can kick, punch and, generally, smash my way through to gain some peace or clarity. I think about the intricate moves I can do, like a kick to the side of depression’s head or a roundhouse to anxiety’s face.

Then, I watch them fall. I stand over them and mean mug them, hoping they’ll stay down, giving them my best “don’t even think about getting back up again” face. For a brief moment, I feel like a champion and I look around for my gold belt. I don’t hear cheering crowds or the announcer stating how I won with a KO. I just feel the brief respite from the darkness and fear that typically surrounds me.

I don’t get to win every battle. Some days, depression and anxiety will get the best of me or the one I love and the darkness blinds me so all my intricate moves seem to miss their mark. On those days, it is I who gets knocked down, feeling beaten and bloodied, but somehow crawling back to my corner of the ring. The weariness will cling to me and the weight of the loss of the day will weigh me down. The restless sleep will come to drag me under, but I always wake to fight again the next day.

This is my life every day. I’m not always the fighter, sometimes I’m the dragon slayer, the unmasker of the monsters or the s-hero on a journey of redemption. I find ways to cope and deal with the threats my brain has created in its mixed-up chemical soup of depression and anxiety.

On the outside, you will never see the battles waged in my mind. Most likely, you’ll see an average woman, with brown hair and brown eyes, of average height and weight. You know nothing that would portray the fierce warrior that lives inside me. I fight like hell to maintain some sort of balance in my mind, and so do so many others just like me.

Take my husband, for example. He is one of the fiercest competitors I’ve ever met. When he sets his mind to doing something, and being the best at it, nothing gets in his way. He faces challenges daily, as well. He is one of the reasons I fight so hard. I have seen the thought monsters that invade, sometimes not just my mind, but his and others around me. When they arrive, I know it’s time for battle.

I do know moments of peace. I have them when I wake up calm and the daily struggle for control of my brain hasn’t begun. In those moments, I can sometimes win the entire day and keep the fighters, dragons and monsters at bay. On these days, like today actually, my mind is clear, focused and quiet. The quiet allows me to see things with my eyes wide open and I get to experience the world in a way that always feels new.

I become the observer and the absorber of everything that is good around me. I feel loved, safe and content on these days. I relish every minute of it. On these days or in these moments, I see depression and anxiety locked away on an island far from me, and I can finally catch my breath.

The trickiest part about my big, beautiful brain is for all the beauty it allows me to see and create, within it lies the modalities for destruction. It is in constant flux and each day, sometimes moment to moment, is different. I’m at its mercy and so my inner warrior is on constant vigil, ever weary and sometimes too tired, but always there.

I dream of a time when I can lay my warrior to rest for good and when peace will become the new norm. For now, I am grateful she exists and is aware of the warriors in others. I see the struggles and the strengths in each of you who fight as well. I know we do not fight alone.

Originally published: July 9, 2016
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home