It’s real, it’s dark and it’s controlling.
For nearly six years now, for those of you who don’t know, I have struggled with severedepression and anxiety. I don’t even know where to begin. All I know is that my heart is in my throat as I write this and I’m ready to, again, delete it all.
I’ve written about five posts about my depression and have deleted every one in my own fear. It’s hard to write about depression and anxiety so that it makes sense, and although I don’t think it will ever make sense for anyone who hasn’t gone through it, the time has come for it to be told.
It’s all very overwhelming. It’s hard for me to describe to you what I go through on a daily basis.
Every day is a different day from the last. I have good days and I have bad days, but even the good days are the “average Joe’s” bad day. The times when my depression is really bad are difficult to put into words. People need to know why the suicidal rate for depression and anxiety is so high.
- People with depression hide their illness from others out of fear.
“My biggest fear is that eventually you see me the way I see myself.” — Anonymous
This was the best way I could put it into words. Imagine having a “split personality” and it’s trying to kill you. My “split personality” is my mind. I say “split personality” because this disease is not me, but it is me.
It’s something that took over my mind, but I’m (the original Sherri, fun, loving, happy) still there in body. It’s constantly trying to bring you down, it constantly tells you your worthless, you’re hopeless, you’re a horrible wife, mother and friend. It’s constantly telling you that life would be so much better for everyone if you weren’t in it.
There isn’t a day that goes by where I wish I wasn’t on this earth anymore and those thoughts can be triggered by something as small as “too many dishes in the sink.” CRAZY, isn’t it? I KNOW, but that’s what depression is. It’s real, it’s dark and it’s controlling. It takes complete control over your mind.
My “split personality” (my mind) continues to tell me all these lies, and in my mind, they’re all true. I’m not suicidal — I would never harm myself, I know that for a fact. My daughter is my lifeline through this darkness. She’s the reason why I’m breathing today. She’s the reason why I know that I will not be defeated by this.
Now, I don’t want to minimize my love for my husband, because you’re probably wondering why he isn’t my lifeline as well. I love him just the same but in my mind, I feel like he would be alright. He’s old enough to understand. He can move on and be OK, at least that’s what my mind tells me.
Cadence is different. In the beginning I was at home alone with Cadence (who was three at the time) and I had those suicidal thoughts. I didn’t want to live anymore. Cadence would play and I would lay on the couch and watch her. My mom would call and ask if I wanted her to take Cadence for the day so I can rest, but I couldn’t let her. I didn’t trust myself without Cadence around.
I knew I would never harm myself if she was there so I kept her home with me, and everyday I watched her play and laugh and run around. It not only saved my life but it brought us so much closer together. She’ll never know how much I love her. It’s an indescribable kind of love. She saved me. My three-year-old daughter saved my life without even knowing.
As I write this, my heart is in my throat and my breathing is becoming heavy. My heart is overflowing with pride. She saved me.
2. Choosing to live and cope with depression is one of the bravest things you can do.
“The bravest thing I have ever done was continuing to live when I wanted to die.” — Juliette Lewis
It takes an extraordinary amount of strength just to exist in the midst of a depression. Depression is real and people need to know how real it is. It’s not just sadness, it’s much much more than that.
The fact that it’s so hard for other people to understand what it’s like to have severe depression and anxiety can add to so many feelings such as frustration, jealousy, resentment, irritated, anger, rage, hatred, paranoia, feelings of hopelessness, exhaustion, despair, selfishness, self-pity and low self-esteem. Let’s not forget extreme shyness, anxiety, fear and dread.
After my mind flows through all these feelings and emotions, in the end, the worst one is the heavy feeling of guilt about having these feelings in the first place.
3. Sometimes, the best way to describe this illness is with silence.
“I wanted to write down exactly what I felt but somehow the paper stayed empty and I could not have described it any better.” — Unknown
I’ve had many people try and “comfort” me. Nothing really comforts me. Frustration usually gets the best of me when someone tries to “comfort” me. I know most people have good intentions and really think they’re helping, but in reality, telling someone…
- There are a lot of people worse off than you.
- You have nothing to be depressed about.
- Get some exercise and you’ll feel better.
- Get out of the house and do something.
Comments like those will put someone with depression further down. I’ve come to realize thatanyone saying those kind of comments has NO idea what depression and anxiety is and it often becomes frustrating. Never judge what you don’t understand. It could have a fatal effect on someone close to you.
People will often ask me “How are you doing?” and that’s where you’re going to hear “Fine” or “Good,” Of course you’re not going to hear, “Well, I thought of dying today and really felt like I let everyone down and of course my anxiety got to a point where I nearly passed out, only to respond with, the normal fine, how are you doing?”
Anyone suffering is probably feeling ashamed or embarrassed for feeling those emotions, and that’s when it goes silent. That’s why people need to know and understand what goes on behind that smile.
4. You can be screaming for help without saying anything at all.
“Silence is the most powerful scream.” — Unknown
To my family and friends, if I’ve cancelled on you over and over and over again or you may have felt “ignored” by me, I apologize. And if I’m being truthful, it will happen again and I’m truly sorry, but please don’t take it personal.
When I have to cancel on you or cause you to feel “ignored,” trust me, what my mind goes through to get to the point to tell you is punishment enough. The guilt, along with other feelings and emotions, become very overwhelming. They most often turn into my bad days.
5. Your body and mind are constantly at odds with one another.
“Depression is living in a body that fights to survive with a mind that tries to die” — Unknown
I’ve never really had a justifiable reason to feel this depressed, which doesn’t help. I have a good life, I had a good job and good people that surround me, so why am I not happy? I’m still trying to find that answer. It’s a powerful disease, no doubt.
I don’t identify myself as someone who “has” these feelings. They’re not me; they are my “split personality” (my mind). It’s my disease that causes my brain to react in such a way; they are not me, and all I can do is not let them beat me.
I am a survivor, and I have no doubt that one day I will be free of all this. That day will be the first day in a long time that I will be able to breathe without fear.
6. But a true survivor can overcome even the darkest things.
“People with depression are not looking for sympathy, they are merely trying to stay alive in a world their own mind doesn’t want them to live in.” — Sherri Tully