Hey everyone, I’m “Nox”, and I struggle with depression, generalized anxiety, and social anxiety.
The irony is that my anxiety is acting up about writing a post about my anxiety. Thanks a lot, brain. That’s part of why it’s difficult for me to write about this. I’ve basically trained myself to not open up to others. Don’t let them know how “messed up” I am. Don’t let them know how bad it can get. Don’t let them know that this is all I am, that every other part of me is fake, that all I am is an anxious and depressed mess begging for attention.
Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? That’s what I live with. I can’t run to my room to hide, can’t run to church to escape, I can’t run ANYWHERE to leave it. That’s what my anxiety is. It’s the whispers in my head that refuse to EVER stay chained up. It’s the shadows in the corner of my mind that seep through and tell me to hide from everyone, from my best friend, from my God, and from my family. Hide, so nobody has to deal with me, because hell, I can’t even deal with myself.
To be frank, I hate myself. I hate my appearance, my voice, my somewhat dual “energetic” and “shy” personalities. I hate how I feel fake in my own head, like I’m masquerading and hid away the “real Nox” away a long time ago, somewhere where nobody can ever find her. That, my dears, is the depression talking.
My depression and anxiety go hand in hand. They feed off of each other. I get anxious about how people would react if they knew I was depressed. I get depressed about what my anxiety holds me back from. It’s a vicious cycle that often feels like it’s never ending. It leeches out motivation and energy, leaving me lethargic in bed.
This all sounds incredibly toxic and negative, I know, but that’s because it is. This isn’t to say that I don’t have good days. I can get by most days without incident (with the exception of the social anxiety, that sucker is probably getting paid overtime) and logically I know that this isn’t all I am. I know that I’m caring and compassionate, incredibly empathetic and loyal, and that there’s a lot of happiness and positivity that I can bring to others. But there’s also this side of me that I fight to keep hidden from others because I’m terrified that they’ll leave when they know.
I’m writing this because this is my mental illness. I can’t write it any other way because I have no way of explaining it any other way. I can’t tell you what my symptoms are because I honestly don’t know. I don’t know how to separate the anxiety and depression from myself. Would I sleep less is I wasn’t depressed, or would it stay the same because I’m simply lazy? Again, the rational side of me knows that my depression is definitely related (because I spent an entire week lacking the energy to pick up my phone, let alone drag myself from the covers). The question remains though- who am I really? I used to wake up early when I was little. I was outgoing, bounding with energy and happiness. And that’s the scariest part- remembering who I was and not knowing them as myself, not knowing if the drastic change was a result of growing up, mental illness, or both. I gave up singing, something I adored, because of my illness. I gave up on making friends because of my illness. I stopped swimming because of my mental illness. I gave up on wearing tank tops, shorts, flip-flops, and shirts with cap sleeves because of my illness. And I live in California. I don’t wear any of those outside of the house, even in summer. I want to get healthier but I refuse to work out in public because the very idea of someone seeing me try is nervewracking. Maybe I don’t have these episodes every day, but they’ve happened enough that it’s definitely had an impact on my behaviour.
I want people to know that everyone experiences mental illnesses differently. My panic attacks aren’t the same as the ones for others, something I struggled with understanding since mine didn’t fit the textbook definition. People with depression aren’t “being downers” for the sake of being down, we (well, I) lack the chemicals we need. Also, just because I’m happy and positive a lot of the time doesn’t mean that I’m not depressed. And (this one may especially be triggering) suicide isn’t a grab for attention. It’s feeling like there’s no way out of what’s making us live in misery and getting desperate enough to try anything to make the pain stop. I saw something that describes it perfectly- I don’t want my life to end, I want the hurt to end. I want to keep living and be with my family and friends, but I don’t want to feel all of the negativity and pressure, as if the shadows are caving in and threatening to devour me. And from a religious standpoint, going to church isn’t the sole cure to mental illness. While it personally helped me, it didn’t stop it, and in the end the environment I was in became toxic and I needed to leave (this doesn’t mean all of them will be like that, it’s just how it was for me).
Finally, I want people to know that one out of four people suffer from some sort of mental illness. So 1) it’s definitely possible to live a normal life, but it is more difficult, 2) just because I struggle with these doesn’t mean I can’t make meaningful and positive relationships with others, it just means I struggle a LOT with it, and 3) if you suffer from a mental illness you are not alone. If anything that’s what I hope you get out of it. And talk to someone. Someone out there will understand. Someone out there cares.
Break the stigma surrounding mental health. Make it something people don’t feel ashamed of talking about. Make it so that posts like these are normalized and others can feel at least slightly more able to share with others.
Thank you for reading.
Thank you so much for sharing your story here, Nox! I can completely relate to feeling anxious about opening up about your anxiety – it takes a lot of bravery to open up, which is why I’m so pleased that Nox (and everyone else who has been featured) wanted to take part in this project of mine. You can keep up to date with Nox on Twitter and her blog.