This post is beautifully written about depression and anxiety by someone who wishes to remain anonymous. People talking about lived experience is invaluable to others. It helps people to feel less alone with their struggles. Please take the time to read and share.
“I have always carried a feeling worthlessness.
From the moment I recognised this empty, lonely, distressing feeling, I figured I needed to start gathering Stuff of Worth to drive it away. I worked to gain, in no particular order, degrees, world travel, a husband, two children, a super house, a career, a high income, an attractive appearance, a nice wardrobe and a group of lovely friends. I even got a Lanvin handbag.
But I still felt utterly rubbish about myself.
That’s because endemic low self-esteem and habitual damaged thinking bears absolutely no relation to what you have or what you achieve.
I have a Master’s degree with first-class honours. My brain is highly functional, yet my brain is also the source of this problem.
That’s because it watched and learned things in the first 15 years of my life that wired it to think in a certain way permanently and powerfully.
My childhood experiences created a self-critical woman with a void inside. The void craves affirmation, but when I receive it I don’t believe I deserve it and it leaks out of me like a bucket with a hole.
I have a plethora of diversions up my sleeve to avoid looking into that void – endless, mindless productivity and drinking alcohol. But in the end the fear and self-hatred resurface and manifest as panic attacks, grinding anxiety and relentless depression.
I’ve discovered over the years there’s a lot of support for people with mental health disorders. Medication helps, as do caring friends and family, and working with a qualified counsellor like Amanda can help you piece together a strategy to manage your illness.
The difficult truth, though, is no one can take this pain away. Ultimately, it is completely down to you to help yourself.
This means working out what you need. There’s a huge amount of ideas and many won’t be right for you. The thought of positive post-it notes and chanting affirmations is not for me, but other actions do feel right.
Keep your strategy simple. When I’m spiralling I try to get outside, exercise, talk to a friend face to face, and do something kind for someone else. It lifts me outside of my head.
Amanda helped me see that the feelings of anxiety and depression are a symptom of my thoughts – both conscious and subconscious. How my brain interprets day-to-day events in auto-pilot. A lot of these thoughts are a load of rubbish.
She also taught me that ‘rewiring’ your brain back to rational, healthy thoughts is simply a matter of embedding new thinking ‘habits’. Like a muscle, it will be weak at first, but with repetition it will start to become stronger and more natural.
If you struggle with mental health problems, it’s not your fault. But it is your responsibility to manage the illness, just like you would if you had a physical health problem”.