Guess what? I have depression/anxiety, and here’s what that means for you:
Depression is such an easy fix: exercise, eat avocados and kale, do breathing exercises, make sure you have a friend to talk to, and of course medicate yourself. Now, take what I just told you, squish it into a ball, light it on fire, and throw it out the window! This list has good things, but when someone tells you they have depression/anxiety, don’t give them a laundry list of stuff you think they need to do. I used to get frustrated when people didn’t understand my depression/anxiety. Why don’t people recognize this and care more, show a little more compassion? Like I was Just One Thing… Like a thumbprint, every brain is different, therefore, each person with depression/anxiety is going to have a different ‘manifestation’, let’s say, of this thing that people still don’t understand.
I have run into people who, after telling them I have depression/anxiety, treat me different. They are unsure of what to say to this admission (sometimes guarded, other times casual), or I am seen as unstable, but a more accurate reaction is a look of “pity”. That’s the fear I have anyway. Anxiety makes that notion even more entertainable. Some people don’t understand, and others do understand, to a degree. But no one in truth will understand your depression/anxiety the way that you do. No one has your brain. No one is able to understand your thoughts the way you do. This is perfectly fine.
The moment I realized this fact, I felt better prepared to handle my mental health. For way, way, way too long, I was subconsciously putting the expectation of my happiness on someone else, trying to fill this void that I thought I could not fill. I became wary of other people, and I stressed out when I thought my anxiety was evident in front of others. Eventually, I just didn’t care anymore. It made things easier, but I didn’t improve, because I was not expecting to make myself happy.
One noteworthy thing about depression/anxiety for me is that everything is compounded. There was a time when I thought my depression controlled me, and that I had to deal with it for the rest of my life, so I let it become a part of my identity…
For me, I cannot and will not think of myself as a depressed/anxious person, because then I am already defeated. I am a person that deals with all of this. Depression can make something on the ‘sadness scale’ feel like a 7 or 8, when in reality it’s a 2. And I think the scale is between 1 and 5, so we should probably update that.
Pity can be a good thing, at times. Taking pity on someone can show you care and want to see that person’s suffering end. But I would caution against pity without action. By itself, Pity is a feeling from someone who recognizes that they don’t struggle with this. For me, I never want to hear someone’s pity for me, unless it is a genuine desire to help me and support me. Without action, pity is nothing more than treating people’s struggles as victims, rather than as survivors, as warriors. I’ll repeat, Pity can be a good thing, and it’s nice to know someone cares, but what I believe people with depression/anxiety need more of is someone who recognizes the strength inside.
Flaws are a part of any human life; I know I have mine. But I am done believing I am weak, because I am not. And finally, I believe it (at the age of 24, no less). Remember if you struggle with this, that I have no pity for you. You are strong. You are here. We are here. You survived. You will continue to be strong, and things will get better. You have people to turn to. Getting help is no weakness, but it is your choice that matters. Your happiness and joy is in your hands. Your past does not define you, your future does.
Bringing the overarching point into view, it is never Just One Thing. It is all of our trials and experiences made worse by this thing that we deal with every. single. day. I am not here to talk about my depression; I don’t want it. Someone else can claim it. I am talking to you, yes you, the one with the face. Whether you struggle with depression/anxiety or you are reading this in the hopes of understanding a little more, I hope you walk away with the notion that we are more than Just One Thing. And I want to show you how everything is connected.