I honestly can’t remember what life was like before anxiety and depression.
Was I always this introverted? Was I always so insecure? Was I always so afraid of going out?
I’m now intimately familiar with fear and tension. I encounter them on a daily basis. The knot I get in my stomach when I’m stressed is like an old friend now. Or maybe more like an old acquaintance who you know almost as well as you know yourself, but who still annoys you more than anyone else on the planet. Guilt is also something I know better than I’d like. Guilt for being so insecure, guilt for being such a burden, guilt for not being good enough, guilt for every time I lose my temper or can’t keep a lid on my panic.
Then there’s the fact that I’ve learned to live with the battle between rational and irrational inside my own head, and frequently not being able to tell which is which.
Not to mention the agonising fear that visits often and makes me want to curl up and cease existing. The desperate pleas for reality to somehow be different. The sense of being completely overwhelmed by life.
I have days when I feel no motivation to do anything. I have days when I can’t stop my over-active imagination from concocting some terrible scene in my head that I can’t shake. I have days when I feel worthless and repulsive. I have days when I feel incapable of even the smallest of tasks.
Most days when my husband is working, I count down to when he comes home. But then not long after he does the low mood hits and I sink into a lethargic, short-tempered, hopeless feeling of despair. It’s a cruel irony that I don’t like being alone but often the anxiety/depression makes me not like company either. I literally can’t win.
I know that I must have had a different life at some point. I know I used to be confident (well, more so than I am now). I know I used to go out and socialise. I know I used to do things that terrify me now. But that version of me is so long gone that it’s hard to comprehend her existence. And as for the future… well, I hope that one day I will be free of this, but in truth I can’t see anything but this in store for me.
Mental illness is just as real and just as debilitating as physical illness. It’s just as painful, just as cruel and just as unfair. The only real difference is that mental illness is less accepted and less understood. The difference is feeling too ashamed to tell people when you’re suffering mentally, for fear of being judged as lazy, attention-seeking or selfish.
Anxiety is real. Depression is real. I suffer with both. Bipolar is real. Post traumatic stress disorder is real. Anorexia is real. Bulimia is real. The list goes on. Mental illness is real and it hurts. And sometimes, it kills. I wish the world was more aware.