Ode to the Things I Am Not

For the less observant among you, I’m just going to point out: it’s been a long ol’ time since my last post.

Since that last post I have been back and forth between the idea of “Coming Out” and “Carrying On Regardless”. I think Coming Out is on for a winner because hey, look, I’m sitting at my desk and writing, which is something I have not been capable of doing for a while.

Often people talk about the trigger for their depression, but I really didn’t have one. It was probably a slow starter, prompted forward my on-going struggles with anxiety.

Every Instagram selfie was a person I couldn’t be, every article on Twitter something I could never write, every Facebook post an experience I could never have. If that sounds pathetic, imagine how it feels. I attended a workshop on academic writing and had to leave a few minutes in because the guy kept talking to the audience as though we were capable. I know (or my anxiety knows) that I am far from capable.

My anxiety got to the point where just opening a Word document would send me into a panic attack (yes, a few awkward moments at work), or the idea of trying a new experiment would make breathing difficult. I would be afraid to leave the house and developed a near phobia of my workplace. I would wake up in the night sobbing uncontrollably at the thought of having to try and get something, anything achieved during the next work day.

But then I stopped caring. I stopped trying to go to work, I stopped trying to go outside and I stopped trying to do the things which I knew would make me feel better. My anxiety had made a friend in the form of depression. Hey, buddy.

I went home to visit family and thought very seriously about staying in my home country. It was even recommended to me by a health professional. But part of me knew that running away from my problems wouldn’t make solving them any easier. It would probably making returning to work even more difficult.

For a long time I was in denial. I wasn’t depressed, I was just lazy. I wasn’t anxious, I was just vain and self-conscious. I had three different health professionals give me the diagnosis, yet I was still convinced that it was my fault for being a lazy attention seeker. This is what anxiety does. It makes you doubt yourself, and it can make you hate yourself.

It was only once I started to get better, and read some of my journal entries back to myself that I realised how real my depression is. It’s hard to write that in present tense because sometimes I go through these waves of improvement where I can really feel like myself again. But it’s still there. I still have a Mental Illness.

It means a lot that I was able to sit and write something tonight. Thanks for reading and please take care of yourselves and your friends.

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One thought on “Ode to the Things I Am Not

  1. Thanks for your post – as a PhD candidate myself who also struggles (daily!) with anxiety and depression, I can very much relate. I just wanted to say that you are not alone. It helped me to read your post as I hope it helped you to write it 🙂

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