What I Want You To Know About Depression and Anxiety

This wasn't a post I planned on doing but soon as I opened the laptop, words came flooding out so here it is. Everyone in the world has a story. My depression and anxiety just happens to be involved in my story. Being someone in their early twenties is hard. Being a woman in our society is hard. Add depression along with anxiety to the mix and it's almost too much for one person to handle. 
I didn't ask to suffer from a mental illness, i didn't ask people to silently judge how i am coping. I'm simply asking for you to be empathetic of our feelings and our space instead of pressuring us to 'get on with it.'

We have good days and bad days, each day is different to the one before even the one before that. We all have different copying mechanisms, a majority of us take an anti-depressant to help us cope with the daily tasks, like myself. The medication I'm currently taking is Sertraline which treats my depression and anxiety.

People think that depression is just being sad and anxiety is just worrying all the time, but there is so much more to each disorder. Having both of these at the same time is hell. They affect mood, behaviour, emotions, and thoughts each in their own ways. It doesn’t make you weak, and it doesn’t make you damaged goods. There are so many layers to it and it manifests itself in different ways among every single person who experiences it. I am no psychologist, and I cannot possibly speak for every single person struggling with some form of depression, but these are a few of the things that I wish more people knew about me and my mental illnesses:

Medication aren't "happy pills."
Do you really think antidepressants are happy pills? If those existed, we would all be on them. Seriously. My medication just helps me to function like a proper human for a little while. It decreases some of my obsessive and intrusive thoughts to help prevent me from spiralling into a depressive episode, but it isn't some magical cure-all pill that reverses every negative thought I have. My medication also helps with my anxiety.

Trying to describe how you feel. 
It’s honestly equivalent to describing colour to someone who is blind. You’ll only understand what it feels like if you, god forbid, experience it. The feeling of being a prisoner in your own mind and body is unexplainable and trying to relay the feelings we experience won’t do any justice. If we could explain what it feels like we would just so you could see anxiety is real and we’re really not attention seekers.

Depression is not synonymous with sadness.
Depression is more than a feeling of sadness. It's loneliness, hopelessness, worthlessness, irritability, detachment, and feeling out of control. It's feeling disconnected from everyone and everything around you, like you're watching your life happen from outside your body. It isn't always being painfully, devastatingly sad - a lot of times it's feeling nothing at all, it's just emptiness and numbness. Things that used to make me happy don't -- same with things that used to make me sad. Sometimes it's a relief just to feel anything at all.

Our symptoms just show up. 
One day you’ll be fine, living like a “normal” person almost forgetting your anxiety. The next you’ll wake up or be in the middle of a conversation and you’ll have been struck. The best way to explain this – it's like a light switch in your brain, it turns on and off as it pleases, and suddenly you’re not the same person.

I'm trying.
I want to be better. It doesn't always look like it, but I do. I take pride in my smallest achievements because I know there's another version of me who would've given up. Each day that I go to war with my brain and win, I get stronger. It's really, really hard being trapped in this head constantly and not fully understanding all the emotional phases that pass by. Please don't assume that we aren't aware of our troubles. We. So. Are. And we're doing our best to heal ourselves, in our own ways.

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Your pep talks are annoying. 
We know, “life is great” and “there’s more to life than the problem you’re facing right now”. We hear it way more than we should for our own good. Contrary to popular belief, we agree with you, we know life is good. We do have good days and for the most part, we are genuinely happy. We enjoy life just like you, we just have a significant more amount of stressors and they affect us differently. If we're being honest the pep talks can come across as belittling, I understand that you mean well but please understand what this is doing to me.

Stop treating us like we're broken
We have an illness, that doesn't mean you have to treat us any differently. We just want to be normal. We aren't fragile. We won't break into a million pieces if you don't baby us all the time. We don't need you to protect us from the world. There will be times we fall apart, you tip-toeing around us isn't going to stop that from happening. We are not children. We are not inferior to you. Just treat us like equals. We are a lot stronger than you realise.

We can feel like a burden and that we’re too much to deal with
Depression can cause us to feel like an inconvenience to others, leading us to become feeling isolated and finding it difficult to talk to others. We can sometimes feel that we're too much to deal with and that we’re bringing others down. When feeling low we can avoid other people in order to hide how we feel from our family and friends. This is when friends and family need to be compassionate and reassure their loved ones that they're not a burden to them. By letting us know that we can talk to you about how we are feeling, we can gain a sense of safety and support around us. 

It's hard for us to open up
Don't get mad if we don't tell you stuff. This goes back to the whole trust thing. Even if we do trust you we don't want you to see us differently. We worry that if we tell you whats going on in our heads or how we feel you will get freaked out and leave. We are worried you will judge us like so many people have before. Sometimes, we don't even know what's going on in our heads. How are we suppose to tell you about something we don't even understand ourselves?

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Don't pity me; I'm more than my illness.
Don't view me as less than fully human because I'm mentally ill. I'm not weaker because of it. I'm not damaged, not weird, not "less than" anything. I'm just different from what you believe to be normal. Depression is part of who I am, but it's not all that I am and it doesn't define me. 
If you define me by my mental illness, it makes me feel like that's all I am. Knowing you appreciate me for being the complex and real human being I am when I'm in the worst possible state can make me feel a little more whole. I'm still me despite having depression and anxiety.

Don't tell me how to handle my depression
While I agree that leaving the house or doing something productive might help me, you repeatedly suggesting I do that makes me feel bad about myself. Depression can be debilitating at moments, and you're basically stuck. It sucks. 

I can't "snap out of it."
If I could, I would. I can't flip a switch and "just be happy." You wouldn't tell someone with a broken leg to "just get up and walk," so please don't tell me that the chemical imbalances in my brain can be adjusted by simply willing them to. Not all health conditions are visible to the naked eye. But just because you don’t notice an illness, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

I don't know why I feel the way I do.
People experience depression and anxiety in different ways. It can be long-term, and there isn't always a cause aside from brain chemistry. I don't know why I am this way, I don't know what triggers my flare ups, I don't know why I act the way I do. It's frustrating and confusing and I wish I had more answers, but I just don't know and I'm trying to be okay with that. It's not only mentally exhausting, but they are physically exhausting too.

I need you to push me, but gently please.
If I listened to all the lies depression whispered in my ear all day long, I’d never get out of bed again. That means I may need your gentle persuasion every now and again to do a little more than I feel I want to do. With your feet on solid ground, I need your hand to pull me up out of the dark hole. I know that for example, going for a walk will help. You could help me by coming with me for walks or giving me goals. But at the same time, please also respect some days I just won’t be able to. I’m not being lazy or rejecting you. Some days are just harder than others. Please be extra gentle and kind to me on those days. Everyday is different but i'm still facing the same battle. I'll appreciate it in the long run.

Everyday activities can be a struggle, as i said above i have good days and bad days. It can feel like the end of the world when it all gets a bit much, It’s hard enough holding it together but it’s even harder when you know people are misjudging you and not giving you credit just for getting out of bed. 

Depression and anxiety don't always look the way the media portrays them. The media tends to romanticize depression and anxiety when it reality its so much darker for some people, me included. Self-harm is not beautiful. Being so consumed by your self-hatred to the point where you think you need to tear your skin open is not something to be proud of. It is destructive. Looking down at the old scars is a constant reminder that you've been through the worst. They are battle scars.
The Internet and the media need to stop making our situation look desirable; it is one of the most painful things you can go through. You can't run away from your problems if they're in your own mind. Having your mood shift drastically in a matter of minutes is not fun. Crying yourself to sleep, questioning the sincerity of everyone around you, even those you think really care, takes a toll. Constant negativity, apologizing when you're not to blame, never doing anything right... it is not something to be longed for.

I have depression and anxiety, and I don't spend my all days crying in a dark room. I have happy moments. I have carefree days. Not everything in my life is bad. Most people who know me probably wouldn't even notice I have a mental illness. 
There is so much more to mental illness than people realize. It's not poetic, it is in no way romantic, it is something to be taken seriously. We are fighting a never-ending war, and every day is another battle. All we ask for is a little understanding and a little respect. Help us along the way, and be grateful you are not in our shoes.

Having a mental illness sucks, and if I could magically wish it away, I would. But I also know that it has shaped me into the strong and compassionate person I am. It has given me the ability to empathise with people, and to imagine them as complex, whole human beings.

Your support means alot to me, honestly. I know some people would bail on me when things get a little too much but for those sticking around, thank you from the bottom of my heart - it means the world. The ones who stick around, makes sure to get educated about the condition, and goes out of their way to help in small and big ways means the world to us. You don't need to understand every emotion or always know the right thing to say, but you're making a huge difference simply by being there for us and being a supportive, nonjudgmental friend.

Thank you for reading this post, this was a little hard to write but i'm glad i did because we all need to talk about mental health more, it shouldn't be a taboo subject to talk about, it should be something we talk about openly. If anything, my mental illness shaped me into a kind, understanding and strong person. It proves i'm willing to fight my illness even more so on the bad days. As the song goes 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' and that couldn't be any more true. 

To those who are struggling right now. Keep on fighting, you can do it. I believe in you. You are enough, you are worth more than you know

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