Moment of pure honesty, internet: I feel like a fraud writing these because today/the last few weeks have been some of the worst I’ve experienced so far. I know I likely won’t share this with people I know, but even in my current state of mind, it seems important.
As someone with anxiety and depression, I read every list of facts/to-do lists/lists of things you should know/etc. in hopes of finding solace in not being alone and also to find one that sums up all the things I can’t articulate to give to those I care about and don’t want to be scared off by my mental illnesses. There isn’t a list that exists that has felt 100% true, so here’s a try at my own list that I’ve been writing for a weeks.
1. While my anxiety attacks or bouts of depression aren’t personal towards anyone else, during those times, my overactive brain analyzes over and over again any interaction I may have had with you. That seemingly friendly exchange of hello this morning? I’ve probably relived it enough times to convince myself that the tone of your voice was slightly off and we’re clearly in a fight I don’t know about.
2. While I crave alone time because it seems safer, I long for interaction with people who I feel safe with. Let me qualify that “interaction” here typically means simply co-existing in the same space, separately. Your mere presence can make or break my mindset.
3. I get frustrated at how frustrating being anxious or depressed is. This quickly becomes a never-ending cycle. If you notice it, gently remind me that it’s okay to frustrated, but it’s also okay to be anxious and/or depressed. Dwelling in those things though, is not okay.
4. I will doubt everything. Rationally, I can know things, but rational thought gets pushed out of the way for the irrational anxious thoughts without my approval.
5. I will crave reassurance in a million different ways and I know it’s annoying. Am I doing a good job? Am I good friend? Am I good person? Am I being too much? Are you as frustrated with me as I am frustrated with me? I talk/text/message you too much, don’t I? Have I asked about you enough? Do you hate me? Are you sure you don’t hate me? You texted back with (or without) punctuation, clearly you hate me. I have a degree in math, but 12 times 12 is still 144, right?
6. I will apologize a million different ways for a million different things that I likely don’t need to apologize for. This essentially breaks down to being sorry that I’m such a burden on others, so I must apologize for existing, profusely. I have also been on the other end of anxiety/depression with friends and due to my job, have some extra knowledge as well. I know how draining it is to be on the other side and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. But if you’re there, I’m going to apologize for that.
7. There is no list that could ever be made to encapsulate everything for everyone. How anxiety/depression manifests itself in me is different from others. That’s okay- we’re all different for a reason.
8. I will feel like the worst friend/family member/coworker/person in the world and there is pretty much nothing that you can say to convince me otherwise.
9. I will likely want to talk, but not know how to start the conversation. Questions help and provide structure I can adhere to.
10. I may ask for help, but not know what will help because I am too stubborn/worried about asking for help to actually do so when it would be helpful. Make sense? Great.
11. If I avoid eye contact and am fidgety, I’m not okay. Tell-tale signs. Add in more than normal crying and being extra spacey to have an extra definitiveness to this.
12. Hugs help. They will also likely induce crying, but typically most things do at that point.
13. If things get really bad, I will push people away. Pretty much all people. Or at least the ones who have proven to see past my bullshit faking.
14. I may not want to talk or be talked to. As much as I wish there was a magic solution someone else could provide, I know it’s on me.
15. Don’t minimize my feelings or point out others have it worse. I know that. And have thought it probably a million times already.