When you live with depression and anxiety unsafe might be the new safe.
Frankly, I struggled with publishing last week’s BLOG because I wondered if it was too personal. Too revealing. Too distressing. My intention has never been to engender sympathy or support for myself but to comfort those living with depression and anxiety by letting them know they are not alone. That their suffering is understood rather than judged. It’s based on a bible verse from Isaiah 41.
“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
Last week, as I challenged myself to write from where I was, I let myself try to explain how painful being at the bottom is. How lonely. Then, I was blown away by those who contacted me, to encourage and support me in my darkness. You did for me exactly what I hope to do for others and remind me that I am not alone.
This week, there’s no doubt the tunnel lighting has been turned back on, I can see beyond myself and the world has become a little less scary. But still I wonder what is it that recommends me.
Mostly, I see myself as particularly needy. I’ve already confessed to being an affirmation ‘junkie’. I seek out ways to be affirmed simply to reassure myself that I’m good enough because, for the most part, I never feel good enough. It’s a scary thought that no matter how many business awards and recognition I’ve received: No matter how well I’ve raised a family or how many books I’ve sold, I cannot see that I have an intrinsic value. And, I ask myself, why should I be continually encouraged and supported when really, I have precious little to recommend me.
Of course Mr Wonderful disagrees. He’s been busy this week trying to build up my self-esteem by reminding me how my life has purpose. And that in my humanness, I will always have difficulty bearing life’s lack of safety and predictability.
However, it appears no matter how much effort I put in I cannot make the world safe. Even my carefully designed and well-considered emotional barricade, is not capable of protecting me from those, imagined or otherwise, who could perpetrate harm. It makes the clandestine attack I recently experienced that much more disabling, because it was my belief that I was safe.
It’s possibly interesting to note that I am a compulsive risk taker. I’m always looking for opportunities and jumping in to things head first! And yet, last week I was caught completely off guard! My pants were in the down position simply because I’ve recently avoided doing anything unnecessarily risky!
So, when asked by Mr Wonderful if I was more affected because of my depression and anxiety I wondered if it was so. I wondered if it was wrong of me to feel the way I do and if, for some reason, I had things wrong? Or is this the ‘stigma’ associated with ‘mental health’ that means the ‘trigger’ can be reduced to absolve a ‘perpetrator’ whilst having an illness wears blame?
I guess it depends on what’s at the bottom of your illness. Where your vulnerabilities lie and how deeply scarred your endocrine system is. In my world, I’m always on alert to danger and I manage this with a fortress of knowledge, self-awareness and thoughtfulness. I even make allowances for others, because I know where I’m vulnerable. However, when the fortress fails and all my good intentions crumble, I am left exposed, naked and unarmed. The good work I’ve done unraveled and useless. The positive self-talk; the self-promises; the self-awareness; the purpose; the pride; all gone… dust.
I confess that getting back on the horse gets easier (for me at least) however, the ride to the bottom is still the same. Yet, in all this, no matter how alone I feel, I know that I am never alone. You reminded me of that and I’m grateful.
From Greek historian Herodotus some 500 years before Christ: “It is better by noble boldness to run the risk of being subject to half the evils we anticipate than to remain in cowardly listlessness for fear of what might happen.” (I trust it can be so for me!)
If you need to talk to someone NOW call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
Deb Shugg is an awarded businesswoman, wife & mother, author and a sufferer of depression and anxiety.
If you need help to deal with your symptoms see your doctor.
(Abuse of another person is NEVER okay. If you are being abused or, if you are an abuser please seek help.)