If you’ve ever experienced depression you’ll most likely be all too familiar with the feeling that I am about the describe. You wake up and the anxiety settles in almost instantaneously. If you’re lucky you might get a few moments of peace before you remember all of the things you’ve been worrying about. In the short period of time between total unconsciousness and total wakefulness you might get a few seconds of happiness or at least neutrality. But then it sets in.
It never really left to begin with and most of the time your dreams are just as lonely, sad, and anxious as the waking world.
Today, the instant anxiety than comes along with depression (for me, anyway…) hit me hard as soon as I opened my eyes.
I think one of the most misunderstood aspects of depression is how it can turn the simplest task into what feels like an exhaustive marathon. A few months ago I had a routine that involved getting up early every day and starting my day right away. Usually this meant going to work, but on days off or weekends I would still keep myself busy by reading, writing, blogging, cleaning or going out for the day. But this isn’t the case anymore. I’ve said this before, but the fact that I’m blogging right now is a miracle in and of itself. The only reason I’m managing to get some blogging done today is the fact that I can do it without leaving the safety of my bed.
Even the idea that leaving my room is “unsafe” is misunderstood. It’s not as if I have an irrational fear that the moment I leave my room or my apartment I will be attacked by a wild animal or something equally dangerous. It’s the experience of anxiety in and of itself that feels unsafe. I have anxiety about experiencing anxiety. It’s like meta-anxiety and it fuels my depression by keeping me hidden away in the safety of my room. I fear that if I leave my apartment I will be faced with all sorts of situations that could lead to me having a panic attack in public. This is turn causes me to feel panicky about even the thought of leaving the apartment which makes it that much more difficult to just get out of bed let alone actually leaving the apartment.
I wish people could understand that depression isn’t just sadness. Sure, that’s a huge part of the experience of depression, but there is so much more to it. Depression is a crippling weight that you have to carry around with you no matter where you go which reminds you of all of the reasons that you should be anxious, stressed, sad, and so on. Depression is like a thick fog that surrounds you and makes it impossible to see the bigger picture through the mist of immediate anxiety triggers. For me, the most prominent feeling that I associate with depression is hopelessness followed closely by anxiety.
Depression is complex and deeply rooted. It’s not something that you can just snap out of in an instant by suddenly forcing yourself to think more optimistically. (If I’m totally honest, optimism seems foolish and naive if you look at it through the lens of depression…but I guess the whole point would be eliminating that lens…which leads me back to the first part of my statement: it’s not something you can just snap out of).
If you are struggling with depression I hope that this post will let you know that you’re not alone. If you have a friend, sibling, daughter, son, student, or acquaintance who is struggling I hope this post will help you understand depression better so that you can be more compassionate, empathetic, and supportive.
Thanks for reading!