Living with depression and anxiety is like trying to mix oil and water; no matter how hard you try, they will always contradict each other. Each person experiences mental illnesses differently, but those who haven’t had much exposure to it have a tendency to not understand what it feels like. By sharing my personal experiences and hardships, I hope that people will begin to put aside the stigmas against mental illness and have a sense of understanding of what it’s like to live with depression and anxiety every day by seeing the kinds of things that might go through one’s head in completely normal situations.
Your alarm goes off in the morning.
Depression: It takes too much energy to get up. You can’t do it. You’re not good enough. You’re so useless. It’s not even worth trying.
Anxiety: You have to. You’re already a failure to everyone. If you miss school today, your grades will drop. It’ll affect your entire future. You have to be better than this. You have to try harder. You aren’t doing everything that you can. GET UP!
Result: You slink out of bed, numb, wondering how your legs are even working because you feel so empty. How can your bones and muscles still exist if you can’t feel anything? But you can’t stop. You aren’t good enough for anything. You’re not worthy of anything. The only form of motivation is the motivation that you have to do everything you possibly can to become worth something. Maybe that’ll make the emptiness go away.
You eat cereal for breakfast.
Depression: Why are you still eating? There’s no use. There’s no use in anything. If you disappeared, it wouldn’t matter. Not one bit. Why even try anymore? You’re not worth it. You’re not good enough. You don’t matter.
Anxiety: KEEP GOING! YOU ONLY HAVE 30 MINUTES BEFORE YOU HAVE TO LEAVE! WHY ARE YOU SO SLOW? EAT FASTER! YOU’RE NOT GOOD ENOUGH!
Result: You eat a bit faster, not tasting anything. You feel so heavy. You don’t entirely remember even making a bowl of cereal. What just happened? You aren’t quite sure. You put on a smile when your parents see you and say “Good morning!” It takes more energy than you really can manage. They don’t notice.
A friend casually mentions to another friend that there’s going to be a group of your closest friends going to a movie this weekend. You overhear but aren’t invited.
Depression: Oh, look at that. They’re not even considering asking you. Even if they did they would probably just be doing it to be nice. Obviously, it would look a bit rude if they talked and didn’t invite you, but let you overhear. You’re friends are nice people. They don’t deserve you. That’s why they won’t invite you. They know they don’t deserve to have you around, since you’ll only ruin their fun. It’s ok. It’ll probably be a lot better if you aren’t there. It’s not like you even want to see the movie that much. It’s probably not that good………. right?
Anxiety: HA! They’re going to a movie without you. It doesn’t matter. You don’t have the money to go. Actually, maybe you do, but I don’t know. You shouldn’t be spending your money anyways. They don’t need you around. You should seriously stop trying so hard to be their friend. They probably don’t want you to be around. Maybe they hate the way you look. The way you stand is so awkward. That’s probably why no one is talking to you. Look at you, honestly. It’s probably everything about you. It’s just not good enough. How can you be better? How can you force yourself to improve? I don’t even know anymore….
Result: Your friends come over a few seconds later and invite you to come to the movie with them. You are thankful for being wrong, but your thankfulness is quickly destroyed by what the voices in your head are saying: You aren’t good enough. They’re only trying to be nice. You decide that they’ll have more fun without you. You tell your friends that you’ll ask your parents. You don’t actually ask your parents, but instead just tell your friends that your mother said no. You tell yourself that you’re doing your friends a favor. Still, you can’t stop hurting so much, even though you know they’re trying to include you. What’s happening?