When you’re living with depression and anxiety, life can take on some scary new elements that may include seeking help.
In the midst of some of my worst times, my fear that I will hurt myself is so overwhelming I won’t allow myself to be alone. Even though I’m not very good company I’ll torture my friends and family with my tearful demeanour and ongoing liturgy of worthlessness and my desire to be dead.
They in turn, will offer up words of encouragement and support.
If you’ve ever tried to comfort a person suffering from depression you’re probably used to having your own feelings of sadness, frustration, anger, bitterness and desperation. You’ll maybe cycle through a desire to hug them and a desire to hit them (not that you really would). You’ve probably even felt angry toward them for not trying, for not getting over it, for not being “normal”.
You’ve probably said everything one likes to hear but sadly, your calming words of reassurance and encouragement never quite cut it. Your words don’t seem to make any difference and you’re left feeling helpless and frustrated. You’ve probably even yelled a bit, but it just made things worse.
The words you speak to someone living with depression and anxiety are like chocolate. We eat them greedily expecting it to keep us alive, when our body needs more than just chocolate to be healthy.
I think Mr. Wonderful is an expert in living with someone living with depression and anxiety. After all, he’s spent most of our married life on a journey he never wanted to take, learning as he goes and adapting to new situations. He’s learned that no matter how many times he tells me he loves me, I’ll still ask him. He knows that whatever he said yesterday that worked to support me, may not work today but he’ll try anyway. (It’s one of the things I love about him!)
I know sometimes he doesn’t enjoy the ride. But, like eating his veggies he knows it’s something he needs to do. He rides it because he loves me. He could tell me to suck it up. Get on with life. Be … “normal”. But he doesn’t (anymore!!).
But enough about him!!
You might be thinking about now that you shouldn’t say anything to a depressed or anxious person because it’s useless. But you’d be wrong. We need all the assurance we can get. We need to know that you understand we’re not doing “it” on purpose. That we’re safe and loved and wanted. Sometimes we even need you to do the stuff we can’t. (And it’s not because we’re too lazy to do it ourselves.)
We need assurance that it’s okay to get help. Not because we’re stupid, but because we’re scared.
Too many people think that depression and anxiety can be “thought” into existence and so, as a consequence, can be thought away. But it’s not true. Depression and anxiety are highly unlikely to exist as a result of our thinking.
Frankly, if I was going to think myself unwell, I’d choose an illness with much less stigma and more understanding.
I wonder if this is true from from Rudyard Kipling: “Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”
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.