As someone with anxiety and manic depression, I realize that this not only affects me, but the people around me as well. Knowing this is why many of us seclude ourselves when we are going through a rough patch.
If you’ve never felt this way it’s hard to understand, but some days it just seems impossible to get out of bed. Standing, showering, smiling, eating and leaving the house all seem like the most difficult of tasks. There have been people in my life who don’t understand. I’ve been told, “Just get up, get dressed and get out of the house.” That’s all fine and well, if only it were that easy. Our inability to just “shake it off,” can lead others to become frustrated and feel as though we’re choosing to be difficult.
I would never choose to be this way. No one would. I try to explain it to people like this, I literally have to wake up most days and talk myself into being content. It’s not a natural feeling for me. It’s not because I don’t have a great life or because I’m ungrateful. It’s just how my brain works. Most people with depression, anxiety or mood disorder appear to have a life worth NOT complaining about, which leads others to tell us, “Things could be worse.” Believe me, we realize that. And that realization only makes us more anxious.
It’s difficult for people to understand depression, anxiety and mood disorder because you can’t really see it or touch it. It’s not tangible. We may not appear to be broken or injured on the outside, but inside is where our wounds live.
I think part of the misunderstanding lies in all the motivational crap that’s posted online and the signs that are sold at my home away from home, Kohl’s. They oversimplify emotions and are unrealistic. They say things like, “Choose Happy!” But again this is not a choice.
Happy is not a constant feeling. Happy is merely one emotion in a sea of many that people feel throughout the day. The only scenario I can think of where you would only feel happy throughout the day is if you were on some really potent drugs. Like the “twilight” drug they gave me during my colonoscopy. This drug is so amazing that it made me repeatedly thank the doctor and nurses after the procedure. These people made me drink a liter of disgusting fluid that made me poop for 12 hours straight and then stuck a camera up my butt and I couldn’t wait to get home and give them a glowing review on Yelp. Sadly, this drug only lasted a short period of time and soon I was back home hoping the 10 years until I had to get another one would be the 10 longest years of my life.
I had a particularly hard day yesterday. I woke up under a blanket of anxiety. My moods were all over the place. I contemplated sleeping the day away with my good friend, Melatonin. I hate when I feel this way, and I hate the effect it can have on the ones I love. I knew I was going to spend the day struggling to find peace within my mind so in a brief state of clarity, I encouraged my husband to go out and do something fun. He went to watch a football game with friends while I stayed home and re-watched Season 1 of Felicity. Watching melodramatic teenagers navigate their first year of college is my Klonopin.
The point of me writing all this is to say that we’re trying our best. However, we realize that our best can appear to you as though we’re not trying at all.
The best way to be with us during a hard time is to be empathetic. We know that you love us and we only ask that you try your best to be patient, gentle and kind.
Please understand that we appreciate a suggestion, but not an order. We appreciate an inquiry, but not an interrogation. We appreciate your candor, but not your accusations. And if you’re dealing with me, I appreciate, “You’re pretty” and then braid my hair.