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When You're the Third Wheel to Depression and Anxiety

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As a child, I loved sleepovers. On any given weekend, I’d ask my mom if I could invite two friends over to stay the evening. Her reply was always the same, “You can invite one friend. Three is a crowd.” She would then explain to me how inviting two friends over would inevitably leave one person out. They would become the third wheel. Occasionally, she would succumb to my incessant asking and let me invite two friends over. Everything was always great until the other two girls became best friends and I became the creaky, third wheel.

This is how living with both depression and anxiety feels like. Depression and anxiety are the best friends and I become the girl in the corner they both want to pick on. I live in a constant state of wanting to befriend these girls (depression and anxiety) and wanting to have nothing to do with them. I’m terrified of what my life would look like without them, but I’m also terrified of their continued abuse.

Anxiety can be a loud and obnoxious companion, which causes my glands to sweat, my hands to tremble and my lungs to hyperventilate. Or, she can be a silent companion, leaving me feeling fatigued, nauseous and helpless. Anxiety feeds off making me feel inadequate. Anxiety makes me think none of my friends actually like me but have just learned to tolerate me. It leaves me unable to speak when I have something to say and inhibits me from leaving the house when I need to be somewhere.

Depression allows me to believe all the things anxiety is whispering in my ear. If anxiety tells me none of my friends actually like me, then depression makes sure I don’t forget it. Depression tells me to quit trying, to give up and no one likes me anyway. Depression encourages me to isolate myself. Depression wants me to binge eat or starve. It knows no in between. It encourages me to skip work, school or any other place I’m obligated to attend. So instead I may sit at home and wallow. This companion enables my unproductivity.

Then, there’s me, the third wheel, the friend depression and anxiety thrive off making feel miserable. They feed into me so much there’s hardly anything left at times. When they knock on the front door, I always answer, unable to avoid hanging out with them. I’m continually learning how to say no when depression and anxiety ask me to come over for a sleepover. I’m also learning to accept depression and anxiety will probably always live in my neighborhood. One thing is for certain though, Momma was right, three is a crowd.

The Mighty is asking the following: What is a part of your or a loved one’s disease, disability or mental illness that no one is aware of? Why is it time to start talking about it? Check out our Submit a Story page for more about our submission guidelines.

Originally published: June 28, 2016
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