A friend of mine said to me once: "Medication isn't made to make you happier; it just makes life livable."
Sometimes I wonder if I am allowed to feel the way that I am—maybe that's the anxiety speaking. The thing about having that and depression is sometimes I don't know where my thoughts are coming from. Is it the depression? The anxiety? Is it normal? Or am I not normal?
That's what happens. You doubt yourself constantly. You're scared to speak up. You're scared to ask for help. You're embarrassed.
I don't know what it's like to not live with the symptoms, but I wish I did. I wish I could "just stop thinking about it." I wish I could "just be happier." I would kill for a chance to not have my own thoughts haunting me as I go throughout my day.
I don't like to talk about this because I don't want people to get tired of me. I don't like to talk about this because I know the stigmas. I don't want people's pity. I don't want people to feel sorry for me. The important thing to understand is that I am normal. People who suffer from mental illnesses like depression and anxiety are perfectly normal—but that doesn't mean we aren't in constant fear that other people don't think so.
Some days, I can't get out of bed. Others, I can't wake up.
Some nights, I can't fall asleep. Others, I can't at all.
I often forget to eat or practice self-care. It takes active reminders for me to do so on some days. No, I'm not sad all the time, but there are days where I am overcome with hopelessness. There are others where I am overcome with panic. There are days where I am overcome with both.
I'm not an expert on this; I just live with it. I can't compare my experience with someone who doesn't have anxiety and depression because I don't know what that's like.
I'm not going to sit here and sugarcoat what my day-to-day life is, but I don't want people to think I'm throwing myself I pity-party. That is the paradox that has always persisted throughout my life. Even though it is a valid reason for me to be upset, sad or anxious, I am afraid of people thinking I'm weak or annoying.
Articulating this experience, even now, has always been difficult, because I don't fully understand it myself.
Have I ever tried ignoring it? Yes. It's impossible.
Have I ever tried just not thinking about it? Yes. It's impossible.
Have I ever tried to just be happier? Yes. I can't.
This isn't to say that I lie around sad all day, but when these feelings of anxiety and depression come creeping up, it's not like I have an on/off switch to prevent it. If I did, I wouldn't be taking any medication.
Depression and anxiety aren't just mental. There are physical symptoms: heart palpitations, sleeplessness, lethargy, fatigue, loss of appetite.
It is a constant war between hating myself, hiding that hate, feeling hopeless, hiding that hopelessness, panicking and hiding that panic. Maybe it's not constant, but I can never tell when those lingering feelings will become stronger.
This isn't a call to action; it's a call to understanding. I don't want to feel bad for myself, and I don't want people to think that I am. I don't want people to think I'm weak. I don't want people to feel sorry for me. I just want people to understand what it's like to live with this. I certainly am not claiming to speak on behalf of anyone else, but if I can provide some account of what it's like, then maybe I can also provide an understanding for those who don't suffer from these symptoms.
It's also absolutely vital to understand this: I will be OK. It's not like I'm completely falling apart or need someone to come save me, or anything like that. I am fine now, and I will be fine. People worrying about me actually increases my stress—it would just be nice for people to stop asking that I cheer up.