Living with depression & anxiety means spending a lot of time looking for answers. I tried everything from Buddhism to special rocks!! Yep rocks! And when, after two years in “therapy” I still hadn’t graduated, things looked decidedly bleak.
The questions were endless. Who am I and why am I like this? Why am I such a failure? Why can’t I just be normal? And of course there’s the guilt! The people around me (like my husband) have to pick up the slack! When I can’t work he needs to work twice as hard. When I can’t get things done, he has to do twice as much.
I’m also plagued by the notion of normal and have never been satisfied with “nobody’s normal”! It seems a platitude. A phrase designed to stop the questioning rather than a real response to my self-doubt and confusion.
I understand that everyone has their problems. Up and downs. Worries. But those problems are “real”. Not like my pathetic worries that are triggered by… well “nothing”. I know, I know… my body has a permanently elevated base stress level that makes everything more stressful. But how do you explain to the world that you’re stressed because that’s the way you woke up today?
It’s taken me some time to become acquainted with myself. To understand the notion that I’m okay the way I am and I can be myself in spite of my deficits. I’ve been knitted together in a way that makes me who I am and if I were any different I wouldn’t be… me!
It’s easy for me to get stuck in the distress of what I can’t do and sit helplessly alone throwing kindling on the smouldering embers of hopelessness. Not that the fire needs stoking. It’s always burning ready to flare up in a breeze.
That’s the power of the chemical imbalance. Given the right conditions the heat becomes intense and razes everything else in my life for a time. It takes a change in the weather, a dying down of the winds and perhaps some rain to dampen the flames. But the smouldering continues, waiting for another opportunity.
Interestingly, it’s those same embers that ignite to produce fight in me when I see an injustice. Responsiveness when others need help. Action when a result is necessary.
Now all I need is for some control over the uncontrollable. A way to control the fires within me but where’s the fun in that!
There are challenges that I think I’ll never overcome, that overwhelm and frustrate me to the point of exhaustion. But in that is the ability make things happen. After all isn’t that what “fight or flight” is for?
So, I’m taking time this week to make some things happen. Here’s my list of “I hope I can do this” things.
- I won’t be something I’m not.
- I’ll be kinder to myself, just like I would to someone else.
- I’ll look for ways to make a difference in my life and the lives of others.
- I’ll be more gentle with the people close to me.
In the words of Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.” May the force be with us!
Deb Shugg is an awarded business woman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety. To contact Deb click here.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor. If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.