Let’s play a game. Imagine that you are having a wonderful day, you got your school assignments done, you did your laundry, you took care of the errands. You decide to say yes to dinner with your friends. It’s been weeks since you have had the time to see them. You should be excited, right? But you aren’t. The thought of it starts to become panicked the closer you get to when you are supposed to leave. You don’t want to get ready, the thought of being around people talking to you is horrible, and you start to try to think of excuses so you don’t have to go. But then you just feel guilty because “I don’t think I can come tonight” is never good enough for anyone.
You are sitting in a room, the room has no light and you can’t find a door. The room starts to shrink, it starts to get warmer, and you hear what must be hundreds of people surrounding the room. Everything around you seems to be spinning, and it’s just getting faster. Before you know it, you are in this box, you can’t move, you have trouble breathing, your entire body feels fear. You start to shake and you can’t seem to grab hold of anything. It feels like someone else is controlling your entire body.
You are trying to reach one of your friends, and it’s been a few hours and you haven’t heard back. Logically you know they are busy or their phone died, but you panic. There are a million things that could be wrong, or what if you did something wrong and you don’t know what you did. What if they had you now?
You feel like you have always done something wrong and always have something to apologize for. You feel like you are constantly not good enough. I am always saying I’m sorry, and when people ask why I say I don’t know, I’m just sorry. You always feel like you are just worse than everyone else.
Imagine hating yourself so much that you don’t want your dog to even look at you. You want to cry because he loves you so much, and you don’t deserve that love. You feel like you don’t deserve him at all.
All of these things, and so much more are things I’ve felt in the last year. For the most part, with a lot of help from therapy and doctors and medication and friends and family, I can realize sometimes when I am having an anxiety attack or going into a depressive state. I can’t always stop it but I do know what’s going on. It has gotten easier, and I promise for you it can get better. It will never go away, that isn’t how this works. I’ll always have to fight this. I know that is not the most encouraging, but it is a sickness that you have, and you have to fight it constantly. You can do this.
For those of you without depression and anxiety, some of those descriptions are what it feels like. It’s scary, and it’s painful and you feel like you have nowhere to turn. It’s hard to be honest with friends and family about what is happening, it took me a long time. There is this stigma about mental illness that it is bad and shouldn’t be talked about. People are judged for having it. Some people think it is made up, I promise you it is not. It is very real. It is very hard to come forward about because society seems to think it is a black mark or something.
I know how it is, and I know it’s possible to get through it. I know it can get better. I just want everyone who deals with this to know, they have support and maybe everyone else can tell that this is real. The things I described are not even the worst of it, it is just part of what people deal with.