Hey there. Let’s have a talk.
I have depression and anxiety. If your first reaction is along the lines of the following, hopefully I can tell you some firsthand experiences:
- “It’s just in your mind. Just think happy thoughts!”
- “The best medicine is going outside. Exercise and be under the sun!”
- “Stop being so negative. People have it worse than you.”
- “You’re lazy.”
I’ve heard these sentences and much worse for a long, long time. I know that you might mean well and that you sometimes genuinely want to help, but those statements do nothing but make me feel guilty of having an illness.
If you were talking to someone with an illness physically visible like leukemia or a broken bone, you wouldn’t even think of making them feel bad about their sickness. Would you say “your cells are fine. Stop complaining” or “you should just meditate on your leg”?
No, because you can see their illness. It’s much harder to see mental disorders like clinical depression, GAD, bipolar disorder, and all the others so many of us suffer from. Chances are, if you’re a stranger, you can’t even tell I’m depressed and suffer from panic attacks if you see me outside, because it’s not something you can see physically.
It happens inside my brain. That doesn’t make it any less terrifying or destructive. It’s hard for me to meet new people or go to big social events or even sometimes order takeout. It’s not that I’m lazy, not at all.
It’s that I’m terrified.
You know that feeling when you trip and you realize you’re falling and you don’t have enough time to cushion it?
That’s how I feel all the time.
Sudden interactions I haven’t planned for make my chest feel restricted and makes it harder for me to respond. Most nights I’m so scared of what’s going to happen in the future that I cry myself to sleep. Most mornings, I wake up wishing I didn’t.
I can’t represent everyone, but I just want to say that we aren’t lazy when we cancel on celebrations or when we can’t go out to a packed venue. We’re not lazy when we miss work because we feel like dying or when we don’t have the ability to be outgoing right away.
Of course we should be accountable for our actions, but please don’t chalk it off to laziness or unwillingness. I so wish I could just go out anytime and be ready for social interactions, but that’s not my reality and I’m working to improve it, but it’s also not my fault that I have this illness.
That’s all for now. If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments.