What anxiety and depression is really like

It’s a fair question from those who don’t know what it’s like when depression and anxiety come calling. It’s been chipping away at me for some time, a few years and really only hit me so very hard in the last three years. A bit like going 15 rounds with a boxer and then finding out there’s no end after the 15th. You’re being battered and sometimes knocked out, but you go again.

When I feel myself go, it’s almost like you feel the mood ebbing away from you, negative feelings and thoughts grow, just very slowly. Then before you know it, you’re gripped and in the clutches of depression.

A friend and fellow sufferer calls it ‘A Sneaky Bastard of an Illness’ and she’s absolutely spot on with that. When you are paying attention, you feel it just creeping up on you, the way your mood starts to slip, your mind starts to react negatively, the body loses energy and you start to think that you could do with a sleep. Whatever you were doing will keep until later or tomorrow.

I call it The Slide. To me, it best represents the feeling of the ground tilting, you’re slipping and trying to grab a hold but it’s getting harder to stay still. Lots of things to do at this point, like walking, mindfulness techniques, breathing. Sometimes they just can’t stop it.

When in that place, you lose the will to communicate, you find it hard to concentrate and your mind ruminates (constantly regurgitating the same negative thoughts). You may be anywhere, surrounded by people but you feel isolated, alone, cut adrift. There is no energy, no will to do anything, no real spark as you just try to keep going.

It’s such a lonely place to be, dark with a sense of ominous foreboding. Nothing, just nothing will be right and can be right, even if it was there is no energy to deal with anything right now but you know that crap is not far away. It has your name and is addressed to you.

I haven’t been badly anxious for a while but it does come along and grip you in a most dramatic way. The mind is racing with all sorts of thoughts. Things you haven’t done and need to do right away, things you did in 1993 and still haven’t apologised to that poor person yet, that bill you haven’t paid and someone is going to come round to your house to take everything, including the kids. It’s all going wrong and there’s nothing you can do about it now.

What about your bank balance? Have you checked if that invoice was paid to you? Some business man you are. Get up now and check it you waste of skin before the sky falls on our heads and it will be your fault when it does! GET UP! MOVE! SORT IT! JUST DO SOMETHING!

This dialogue is intense and for me, it’s usually as I’m trying to sleep. There is no way to sleep when you’re in that state and you toss, turn, make noises, all the while breathing is getting shorter, heart pumping fast and very loudly.

You can feel the anxiety build throughout your body too. Everything is tight, your hunched, shoulders bunched, stomach feels knotted and seems like every muscle is tensed, ready for action. You find it hard to sit still, to concentrate and focus. That is exactly what you must do – concentrate, focus, breathe.

Put the anxiety and depression together and you get such differing feelings that is the worst double whammy. On one hand, you have depression saying ‘Leave me alone, I can’t handle this, I’m useless, I’m so tired’ and anxiety comes bursting in with ‘You’ve got to move and sort this out now, this minute, this second or the world is going to fall. You’re going to lose everything and it will be all your fault if you don’t get off your arse right now!’

Pulled in two different directions, the feeling of dejection and a fight / flight response that just sucks you down into helplessness all the more quickly. You’re stuck in the swamp, feet can’t move and you know, just know that you need to get to the other side to put out all the fires that only you can do and you just can’t be bothered. You feel useless, alone, trapped, isolated and ready for your own personal Armageddon.

Yet, some people think that it is not debilitating, all you need is to get going, a kick up the butt, just pull yourself together. Try saying that to someone with emphysema, heart disease, MS – just pull yourself together, get over it. Doesn’t make sense, right?

That’s anxiety and depression. It’s a Sneaky Bastard of an Illness.

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17 thoughts on “What anxiety and depression is really like

  1. I know. Im a great one for self denial. ‘Im fine, im fine, im coping’……. then I get a day where everything just sort of implodes. I never see it coming, but its always obvious with hindsight xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sneaky bastard is the perfect way to describe it, when the panic attacks first hit me it felt totally out of the blue and sent me into a massive downward spiral that it took me a long time to come out of. I realise now that there were some warning signs but without the experience to recognise them I had no way to see they were there.
    All you can do is take all the support you can get and keep on keeping on until you come out the other side, which you will.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thankfully I’ve been ok for a few years now, still get the odd panic attack but I’m much better at dealing with them now. I always know that sneaky bastard is lurking there somewhere and ready to pounce on me so I’m always on my guard

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Fabulous description. As I was reading it I was vicariously experiencing your slide and the rabid cornucopia of emotions and physical sensations. I am sure your words must also speak to those who are fortunate not to have suffered those for themselves – I do hope so.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. The more pieces like this I read, the more I realise I’m not alone … which is a blessing of sorts I guess!
    I remember trying to explain to my boss just after Christmas, when I was feeling particularly low, how anxiety and depression affect me and she just couldn’t understand how anyone could feel that way. I don’t blame her, I mean if you’ve never been there then how could you. That aside, she is still very supportive, understands it’s a real illness and helps however she can … not everyone is so lucky.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

    1. Welcome, Merv. Thanks for reading and commenting.
      You’re not alone, definitely not. Have a look at my other posts and the comments from others – it’s a support group and someone will always talk and share.
      Pass this to your boss to help her get a bit more of an inkling, if you feel appropriate.
      Good luck and be kind to yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sneaky bastard is right, too! I’ve a few colourful terms, myself, too. Some of them with suitably salty language. 😉
        Thank you, Richard — I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts, too.
        Take it easy.

        Liked by 1 person

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