Depression is more than just being sad, or looking miserable. Depression is not wanting to go to sleep because you dread waking up in the morning feeling the exact same way as the night before. It’s dreading waking up and knowing you have to go Uni today even though you find it too hard to get out of bed. It’s dreading waking up because even if you managed to get a good night’s sleep you know you’re going to wake up and still be tired because in fact you’re just tired of being tired. No one wants to be sad. No one wants to feel miserable all the time. It’s weird because in a way you feel trapped. There’s so many things you want to do, and so much you want to see but for some reason your mind just won’t allow you. You find yourself stuck in bed, doing nothing at all, wasting your existence, and you just can’t seem to figure out how to get out of this trap.
Depression is self-loathing. It’s hating yourself, and not just physically hating yourself and standing in front of the mirror picking out your flaws, but its hating yourself for feeling like this. It’s hating yourself because you feel weak every time you cry. You feel pathetic for having to think of an excuse to call in sick to work tonight because you just cannot bare the thought of having to actually make an effort, having to actually leave the house and having to actually interact with people. Depression is the inability in believing people when they tell you how pretty you look today, or how good of a job you done on your assignment because sadly you just fail to believe that you can actually be good at something. Depression in the inability in having faith within yourself. You lose sight of who you are.
Depression is guilt. You feel guilty for being around people when you feel so low because you don’t want to pass your negativity around. You feel guilty for not wanting to watch a film with your house mates because today you fear being around people in case you start crying, or you just haven’t got enough energy today to fake a smile. You feel guilty when someone tries to pick a conversation with you but you’re too low to respond and then you continue to feel like a complete and utter bitch.
This is when anxiety sneaks in, and takes its kicks. After using so many excuses as to why you can’t make it to the pub tonight for a catch up with old friends, you start to panic and worry. You start to think, ‘what if they think I just don’t want to see them?’ ‘what if they start to think I’m too miserable to be around and don’t want to be my friend?’
Anxiety is more than worrying about what shoes to wear for a night out. It’s excessive overthinking, to the point when you create a problem that never even existed. Anxiety is laying in bed staring at the ceiling overthinking the same situation over and over again, thinking how you could have done it differently and why you didn’t do that in the first place.
Anxiety is the want to take part in social events but feeling like there’ll be too many people there and you know the minute you walk in the weight of the world will just fall down on your shoulders. Anxiety is going to the gym for the first time and crying in the toilets because you can’t face the thought of people staring at you, when in reality, they’re not. Anxiety is not ordering food from your favourite restaurant because the thought of having to go up to the counter and tell the waiter what you want is too daunting. Anxiety is cancelling job interviews and not because your nervous, but because walking into a new place surrounded by people you don’t know is overwhelming.
But despite all of this, anxiety and depression are two illnesses that make people appreciate the highs in life. They bring you down to the darkest of times, they make you feel so vulnerable and weak, they make you cry, they make you numb, but they make you fucking strong.
One thing I have learnt is that it is so so so important to take time off for yourself and to not ever feel guilty about doing so. If you can’t go to the Uni today, don’t. Stay in bed, get yourself a pizza and watch that series on Netflix. If you can’t go to work today, don’t. If you can’t go to the gym, don’t. It is ok to not feel ok. It is ok to cry. It is ok to take time off and recover. Just because we cannot see the damage of mental health, as we do with physical health does not mean you are not well. But it is even more important to not get comfortable. Do not let this time off become weeks off or months off, it’s important to realise that although you need time off, you also need to get back up and keep going. It’s fucking hard, I know, but life doesn’t exist until you’re out your comfort zone, right?
To everyone who has been through, going through or knows someone who is going through a mental illness, 4 words that get me through every day is to just ‘stay strong and courageous.’
My sister once told me that ‘everything is okay in the end, if it’s not ok, it’s not the end.’ Just remember that.