When you’re living with depression and anxiety making it through the day (any day) can be exhausting. It takes a lot of energy to manage the effect of what’s going on as a lack of serotonin, dopamine and many other interrelated chemicals make it difficult to feel good about anything.
I often describe myself as “unable to play well with others”. This is because amid my inability to feel good, I spend so much time “faking normal” and worrying, I run out of energy. I don’t want my invisible force field (the thing that keeps my junk in check) to fail and let all my crap spill out and ruin people’s shoes!
For the most part when I “come out” about my depression and anxiety, people are surprised and to a degree, disbelieving. “Nooo”, they say with a questioning look like I’d just told them I ate their pet budgie. “Not you” they say!
That’s how good I am!! A couple of glasses of self prescribed “medicinal purposes only” chardonnay alongside my actual doctor prescribed regular medicine makes me one happy player!! Until, depending on the prescribed dose of chardonnay, they unite to generate some quite unsociable behavior!
A part of my trouble is that I have a naturally outgoing personality. I’m smart and confident. I’m capable and independent and I’m a natural risk taker. I know these things about myself and the evidence of it is represented in everything around me but still, I’m depressed and anxious.
In my middle class, modernized, western existence I have no right to be sad about err… everything. I should be content with my washer/dryer combination, my warm cosy bed and my obesity. I shouldn’t feel depressed and anxious.
But I do.
It’s a tricky situation that makes me wonder why antidepressant medication is so popular in our culture. There are millions of people in other parts of the world who have much less than I do and I’m sure they’re not wandering down to the pharmacy each month to pick up their SSRI’s!
Statistically, in wealthier cultures you’re 4% more likely to suffer (at some stage) from depression. But I’m not sure research surveys extend to places where getting sufficient food is the biggest problem and finding a doctor to diagnose your medical problems (and report incidences) runs a close second.
It’s hard to get past feeling guilty when we spend our lives comparing this illness to things that seem much worse. I remember a time when I wished I could have any other illness (with all due respect to those who suffer) so the way I felt could be “legitimized”.
It’s tough! Not only do others think we should be able to change our mood by simply thinking ourselves better, we believe they’re right. If we could simply “snap out of it” we would. After all, we’re not lazy, we’re sick!
While I still worry about everything, and spend time faking wellness (when I can) I’m also grateful for the things I do have no matter how small or self-indulgent.
From Whoopi Goldberg this week: “Normal is nothing more than a cycle on a washing machine.”
Now back to my washer/dryer combo!
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.