I suffer with both anxiety and depression, both of which are usually triggered by the fact that I have a chronic physical health condition. The anxiety can feel like I am constantly howling at myself within my mind as that part of my mind assumes terrible things are imminent. The depression can come almost as a relief as it is the opposite of caring so much, it’s total numbness. Ultimately the depression is worse because it can bring apathy and a lack of desire to take care of myself properly which only makes my physical issues more impactful.
When I first realised the extent to which I struggle with mental health difficulties I went through denial and anger, neither of which were useful. With a lot of education, therapy and support I’m learning that this stuff is part of being me and that while I can be ashamed of feeling weak or incapable nobody else judges me as harshly as I judge myself for these things.
Therapy has been invaluable in helping me learn more about the patterns of my mental health stuff. Even more important is trying to accept that it’s part of my make-up and that I shouldn’t pretend to be something I’m not. It is crucial to talk about mental health, in my opinion. To health care professionals (my GP is awesome and really gets it) and, even more importantly, to family and friends. Trying to keep it a secret when you’re struggling only makes the struggle harder and increases feelings of shame or of certainty that you can’t cope. Not everyone wants to hear chapter and verse but simply saying to someone “Sorry if I seem out of sorts but I’m suffering with extreme anxiety today” can go a long way to feeling like you’re more in control of the situation.