I wrote the text below when I was in the midst of my anxiety and depression. I was diagnosed with PND and PTSD after having our second son earlier this year but, after looking back, I had been struggling with my mental health for a lot longer than I let myself realise. We push on, shake it off with an ‘I’m fine’ mentality. Tiredness and stress gets pointed at but the reality takes a while to face up to. Sometimes you need to hit rock bottom. That’s what I did.
I was dubious about sharing this. It is heavy. Negative. But it is also real. Honest. And it might help someone who is feeling the same way. It may help them feel more understood and less likely inclined to wonder why everyone else has their shit together when they feel like they don’t…
I feel like I am in the dark. Not in the sense of being idle or not knowing information about someone or something. I mean, mentally – emotionally… my soul or whatever our sense of self is contained by… is in pitch black.
Along with the dark is the feeling of heavy. Just. Plain. Heavy. In a physical sense, it manifests like a huge mantle has been placed across my shoulders, lead has taken over where my muscles used to be and every thing hurts.
It takes conscious thought to get up off of a chair. It takes a phenomenal amount of effort to stay standing up when all senses are screaming at you to sit down… lie down. Feel the heaviness sink you into a floor or chair or mattress just so it is that bit more bearable. Less like a fight and more like acceptance. Easier. Sleep is the only sanctuary. The only place where peace floods in and all the inner turmoil stops.
Emotional heaviness comes from the turmoil… weighing your heart down like a brick and making the cogs in your brain creak around so slowly that your head aches at the very thought of thought. You flit between going hyper with energy… the by-product of denial that we all go through with depression and anxiety… the driving force that makes you take on five thousand tasks for a day and then become sluggish again. And, soon, on comes the sense of being a fraud, an idiot and the merciless berating of oneself for taking on too much to do in such little time.
And everything becomes frightening. Petrifying. Just too much. So you back out. Flake out. Cancel things. Reschedule things. Apologise despite being numb from all the overwhelming feelings that are happening and for a brief moment you feel relieved to not have to face things anymore.
Then the guilt sets in. The worthlessness. You let yourself down. You let other people down. You made plans and broke them. You gave in. Gave up. It got hard and you quit. You just chose the easy route. Shame. Shame on you for being so weak. For not being as together as everyone else. For not being ‘normal’. For not just getting on with it.
Then, anger. Angry at feeling like this all the time. Anger at yourself for not being stronger. Anger at not being able to do everything and anything you want to do because you can’t just do them and stop thinking. So much thinking!
Then resentment. Resenting the people who try to force you to face things. The people who disrupt your train of thought or your coping strategy. The ones who question why you are obsessing over one small detail instead of seeing the bigger picture said detail is part of and who you wish with all your heart could realise that the small detail is, to you, just as big as the bigger picture. To be challenged on the control over things that seem so trivial, yet to you make you feel safe and worth while. To feel like you are a nobody. And that the only qualities you do have aren’t any good. To be called horrible, mean, abusive. When actually, you are just eaten up with hurt and anger that is spilling out of every pore and you don’t know how to stop it.
That is my take on anxiety and depression. It is an illness, like any other. As it is possible for us to break a bone, it is possible for us to break the brain. The mind is sick and it needs to heal. And it can heal, with time, understanding and patience.