Depression V Anxiety
Anxiety is what keeps you up all night; depression is what keeps you in bed all day.
Since starting my blog and sharing thoughts and experiences across social media, I have made no secret of the fact that one of the biggest reasons that I turned to exercise and specifically running, was to help with the depression and anxiety that I suffer. Although it’s a very difficult and sensitive subject to write about, it’s one that I feel people should strongly be encouraged to discuss and not hide away from. It took over 10 years for me to admit that I was poorly, but it just wasn’t physically visible. When I could finally say the words out loud to the doctor, it provided me with a certain sense of relief, but I also felt like a complete failure too. I had convinced myself that “I was fine, I could cope and crying every day was normal.” This consumed so much energy and I don’t think I realised the toll that it took physically. These monsters have inhabited my mind since the age of 12. At the age of 33, I can finally accept that on some occasions, they occupy more room than they should. If I could write a letter to my younger self, the advice I would give would to not be so proud and not to pretend. The internal battle is beyond exhausting. On the outside, I knew people thought I was some super, positive person: on the inside, I was dying. Still, I refused help.
My black dog
In a quest to seek answers and make sense of things, a close friend of mine ( who was suffering from crippling depression) sent me the ‘Black dog’ analogy and this really helped to understand some of the complexities of this mental illness. “Black dog” is a powerfully expressive metaphor to describe depression. The combination of ‘blackness’ with the negative connotations of ‘dog’, noun and verb, seems an eminently apt description of depression: an ever-present companion, lurking in the shadows just out of sight, growling, vaguely menacing, always on the alert; sinister and unpredictable, capable of overwhelming you at any moment. Some days, the black dog can be a savage. That’s kind of what happened last week. I’m able to identify trigger points now and at the start of the week, I felt overwhelming sadness and emptiness as it approached Dad’s birthday on Monday. Everyone faces loss and that’s an inevitable part of life. I’m an adult and in my rational mind, I know this, yet, in the part of my brain that I can’t seem to get a grip on, I still struggle to accept death. Very simple things can trigger an episode. A song; a date; a smell. Recognising these triggers can help, but I think, the best medicine at times like this, is to just lie down, accept these thoughts or state of mind and have faith that it will pass. That is not failure, that is strength.
If you were to listen, this is what they say: “You’re ugly, you’re fat, you’re shit, no-one loves you, you’ll never be good enough, you’ll always fail, you’re lousy, you’re horrible. You are a looser!” ~depression demons.
The animal anxiety screams back “Get out, scrub, clean, everything must be perfect, buy 3 of everything, you can’t ever run out…”
It’s a fierce fight of 2 minds and it’s staggering to think that one in two of us suffer from this. I guess it is a cancer of the mind. There is no correct advice on this subject. We are all unique. Personally, I find that shutting myself away for a few days helps to unwind and reconnect, but getting back and telling the road the problems is great therapy too!
I’m really grateful that there is less stigma around this subject. You wouldn’t let a person with a wound in their arm stand there and bleed to death and we shouldn’t let people with hurting minds suffer in silence.
My initial reaction was to close this post by apologising for the negativity, but I’ve come to realise that it is reality and does not warrant a ‘sorry’. Depression doesn’t define me, it builds my character and makes me more appreciative of the beauty life has to offer.
Show kindness, you never ever know the power that can have on a person and their day. Next time you look at someone and cast a judgement such as ‘What the hell have they got to be depressed about?’ Just remember that this is not a choice, this is an illness!