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What to Know If You Feel Your Mental Health Support System Isn’t There for You

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I’ve found when you read anything to do with anxiety or depression, you always read about having a “good support system” around you. Which makes a lot of sense; having lights in your life can help banish away the dark. Having someone to talk to about every day things (and the harder times) makes a lot of sense on the road to recovery. It also offers a sense of normality, when everything else feels like it’s turning into dust.

Having a support system is fantastic, and helps to anchor you when you feel like you’re drowning or floating away from who you are. And, in the beginning — and I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks this — it seems like you’ll never find yourself without them. When the first real bad thing happens, they’re there, hands in yours or with their arms around you. But as the week ticks on, the fight to keep hold of yourself remaining, it seems like the support system dwindles.

It’s not them.

And it’s not you.

It’s your brain.

And what happens when anxiety and depression eat away at that light? When your inner circle becomes less and less interested because your mind has twisted you to think that way? It makes you feel like you’re alone, that reaching out is something difficult, but I want to remind you it isn’t.

It’s easy, when struggling, to forget to reach out to those who promised to be there. It becomes less critical by the hours as you focus on doing the “small things” like washing, cleaning and trying to be alert even to consider sending a text. Reaching out, in whatever medium, seems difficult. For some, it’s the last thing they need to think about.

Frustratingly, it’s also not on the inner circle to remember. Your support system doesn’t want to bother you; they don’t want to wake you when you may be sleeping. It’s also not their job to make up for what you can’t do; they have lives too, something your mind is often swift to remind you.

It’s only then, when the walls seem to close in a fraction, that the candle lights — those few who know you’re struggling are holding — flickering until they’ve either gone out or are too dim to fight anything. You’ll find then the darkness slipping in at the edges, everything becoming more challenging.

Then, you manage a text, or someone else texts you. It’s small, and yet it’s … everything, but then you find that the walls between you and your support system begin to build all on their own. You didn’t ask for it, you haven’t authorized it, but it continues building up, brick by brick all the same. It’s when the “I’m fine” and “yeah, I’m OK” is spoken. You say it because what else is there to say?

And, that is where the wall between you and your support system begins to form.

You don’t want there to be any space; you want to be close to those you’ve shared this difficult conversation with. But you can’t stop it, and it’s building quicker and quicker, and you find your words are sticking in your throat. And between the cracks of what isn’t yet built, you throw your hand out to anyone, hoping someone is still there, grasping and clenching but finding nothing but air.

Depression does that to you.

Anxiety does that to you.

It makes space where there wasn’t one before; it twists perception to make you think you’re alone when you’re not. It makes you believe people are further away than they are, and it’s always too late, no matter how quickly you’ve realized it.

It isn’t true.

It is never too late to reach and take the hand of someone from your inner circle.

They are always there, just silent and waiting; just like you are there, needing and wanting. Don’t believe your brain, even when it twists light into dark and makes mountains so big you know you’ll have no hope in climbing because they’re barely hills.

You have got this.

And you have your support system too.

Don’t believe your brain; you have this.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

Originally published: January 28, 2020
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