When you’re living with depression & anxiety, it can be difficult to get out your own front door. But there are other things that can keep us in a state of distress that often go unnoticed in a big wide world!
I’ve been married for a long time and at first neither of us noticed the illness that, for a time, would take over our lives. The occasional anxiety episode here or there was met with some amateur immersion therapy we’d learnt by watching endless episodes of the Brady Bunch and Gilligan’s Island as children. Everyone knows that the only way to overcome your fears is to confront them!!
It was easy at first. After all, I wasn’t afraid of everything. I was only occasionally afraid of some things. And when, after a while, I became inexplicably afraid of everything, including travelling over bridges, in tunnels, lifts, escalators, stairwells, buses, trains and other assorted travel related stuff, it was inconvenient but not impossible, to find a way around.
If there was no way to escape the torture of say, a ride on an escalator, I would endure the agony with my head down and eyes mostly closed. This method of coping, I seemed to have learned from an ostrich!
It wasn’t until later, when my fears kept me from venturing outside my own home that I realized I’d spent years making excuses to not do stuff. I had a litany of reasons for not going places. And, because the thought of doing “that thing” actually made me feel like I was unwell, I was… err… unwell.
Do any of these sound familiar?
I just don’t feel very well. My tummy’s a bit upset and I’ve had a bit of diarrhoea. I feel dizzy. I think I have a temperature. My face and hands feel clammy. My heart keeps racing. I have a funny taste in my mouth.
If I went to any doctor with any of those symptoms he would believe I was unwell. It’s not until you scratch a little deeper and find those “symptoms” only occur when you think about “the thing” you need to do.
Whenever you think about “that thing”, your endocrine system responds with a burst of fight or flight chemicals. But because our enemy is the ordinary stuff that thousands, if not millions of people do every day, there is no fight. Just flight!
So what do we do with all that chemical junk left floating around our body bumping into our neurons? Well, they’re not called fight or flight chemicals for nothing!
For some, the fight comes out in a need to belt our nearest and dearest with emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse. Making warfare with anyone who would challenge or undermine a carefully constructed safety net.
For others, we spend a lifetime keeping the lid tightly closed on an internal chemical waste hopper. Churning and ruminating over our inability to be “normal” and falling deeper and deeper into a depressed state.
Some, self-medicate with street or other drugs while others rely on the centuries old method – alcohol, to mask and avoid their real distress.
And sadly some, rely on a combination.
I wasn’t created just to be afraid. So, if I can’t change the game, I’ll changed the way I play it.
I play to win. And one day, I will.
Today from Star Wars’ Yoda: “If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are … a different game you should play.”
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.