So to preface round two, I want to say that no two people experience these disorders the same. Everyone’s experience will be completely different, but we all are united by having these disorders. So while these answers may not be true for you, they are true for me, and they may be true to others. This also took me days to write. I was unsure what to say and how to say it but here it is.
What is it like having anxiety?
Anxiety…anxiety is like having someone constantly at your side pulling you away from everything. Its like having an overprotective mother that won’t let you go on the jungle gym because she heard about that one time some kid cracked his head open and god forbid that happen to you because it totally could. Anxiety is a chain wrapped around your wrists and your ankles thats constantly tugging you back into darkness.
Having anxiety is living in constant fear. Fear that people don’t just not like you, they hate you. Fear that you’ll get a panic attack at a moments notice. Fear that it will never end. Fear that you’ll lose everything you love because anxiety will eventually drive everyone and everything away from you. A fear that doesn’t make any sense. You know in your heart its not sensical, that it lies, that it can’t hurt you, but your brain believes it anyway.
Anxiety is a buzz kill but its also dangerous. Its the voice in your head telling you to drink more when you’ve clearly had enough, but it is telling you to do it because it promises it will shut up when you have just one more shot. It tells you to do another hit on that bong because it promises the anxiety will go away if you get more high than you already are. It lies.
Anxiety makes you question everything you know. It questions yourself, it questions your beliefs, your loved ones, the things you hold dear, your friends, everything.
In summary: it sucks. I don’t wish it upon anyone.
What is it like having depression?
If anxiety is chains, depression is the ball at the end of it. Its a ball you constantly have to drag with you. Some days, you are fortunate enough to be given permission to leave the ball home so you can feel what it is like to be rid of it. Other days, you are forced to have the ball put back on your constant chains and have it weigh you down.
Depression is the voice in your head who convinces you, no promises you, you’ll feel better, if you kill yourself. It tells you sweetly and kindly. It tells you you’re a worthless piece of shit and no one likes you when clearly there are loads of people who not only like you, but love you.
Depression is your worst bully, and then it is your only friend. It chains you to your bed, pulls your smile down, and gives you the mask so that no one knows. No one can know. “People will leave you if you’re anxious and depressed.” It says. “Hide it. Be the bubbly person that the world wants you to be. No one will ever know.” But they do know. And they don’t ever try to leave you, they try to help you. But sometimes the comforting makes it worse because you feel like you’re wasting their time and then you feel worse.
Depression sneaks. You’ll be having a great time, grateful for everything and everyone around you, and somehow it convinces you otherwise. It jumps up, surprises you, and then clings to you and never lets go.
What is having a panic attack like?
So imagine this. You’re having a cup of coffee. The sun in shining, you have a newspaper or a good book, whatever. The moment is nice and refreshing. Nothing is stressful, its just a time to relax.
Then suddenly, your heart rate goes up. Its not the normal heart rate going up because of the caffeine from your coffee. It feels like your heart is having a race with yourself. It feels like it could stop if it ever slowed down. Because your heart has suddenly decided to sprint, your breath gets knocked out of you. You suddenly find it difficult to even take a simple breath but somehow your mind convinces you that hyperventilating will work. Because you’re hyperventilating, you get light headed. You think you’ll pass out. But there is no possible way you’ll pass out because your heart is going at the speed of light. The hyperventilating also makes you lose some feeling in your extremities. Your hands start shaking. You can’t hold your cup of coffee because your fingers suddenly can’t grip and the coffee sloshes with your quivering hands. You can barely speak because you can’t get a good breath. If you manage to speak, it comes out in a quivering whisper where you can barely get a word out without stuttering.
While all of this is happening, your mind is freaking the fuck out. It is convinced you must be dying, that you need to be taken to a hospital, that you’re having a heart attack, a stroke, some sort of terrible disease. It is telling you that you’re weak, that this is why you’re not strong, your relationship will be ruined because of this, you can’t go out because of this. It strikes fear into your heart.
Imagine this continuing for about 20-40 minutes. This is just a normal panic attack that I have often, sometimes once a week, sometimes once a month, sometimes multiple times in one week for multiple weeks. There is one trigger I have figured out and that is being overwhelmed and exhausted. Most of the time, it is for absolutely no reason at all. Sometimes it is worse, where I see color for peoples voices (I will get to my synesthesia in another post) and I want to claw my skin off, and sometimes its not so severe and I can walk home and lie in bed until it goes away.
So what do I do when I have one? I often try to get alone as soon as possible or have someone rub my back while I tremble and just wait it out. Sometimes its so bad I need a benedryl to physically reduce my heart rate back to normal. This puts me to sleep which is fine, but I end up exhausted either way.
So…now ya know.
Have a day filled with kittens, okay?