My Anxiety and Depression: Cara's Story

The main thing I can’t accept is that it’s depression. It doesn’t ask before it invites itself into my life, it doesn’t have reasons, it doesn’t need them either. And it sure as hell doesn’t care what’s going on in my life.

Writing has always been my coping mechanism. It’s my way of channelling e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. I use writing as a way of understanding my thoughts and feelings, and even if I don’t understand them, at least I can unleash them.

So when I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression last year, writing really helped. My anxiety completely contradicts my depression, they make me behave in completely different ways, but they collide so often.

For me, anxiety is like a clock in the back of my head. It’s always ticking, sometimes it’s really loud and distracting and it makes me fidget, blink too hard or shake my knee up and down. I can’t sit still because I can’t stand the sound of this ticking clock. It takes over my day, my week and what feels like my entire life. I can’t hold regular conversations without overthinking every syllable that floods from my mouth. I can’t eat without wondering if the food I put into my mouth may poison me. I can’t sleep without playing every scenario over in my head - from the day, from yesterday, from last year, from the future.

For me, anxiety is like a clock in the back of my head

And sure, everyone overthinks and everyone goes over the day before when falling asleep. But my anxiety can completely take over, tense up my body and create a dangerous spiral that ends in real agony. It hurts.

The anxiety happens so quickly and naturally that I can’t really stop it, because it seems so normal to me. It’s like eating something you’ve always loved and really enjoying every bite and flavour, and then remembering you recently developed an extreme, life-threatening allergy to that particular food. 

And that’s when the storm hits. 

It’s crying, it’s screaming, it’s pulling at my hair or my skin. It’s gripping onto my clothes or bed sheets so hard that my nails draw blood from my skin beneath it. It’s grinding my teeth so much that I give myself a migraine. It’s panicking so hard that I can’t see, breathe or hear anything because my heart is pumping so loud and fast.

Believe it or not, this is the part of my mental health that I find doable. I can cope. Because I know it, I’m used to it, and I’m familiar with it. And I’m learning more and more every day. I have things that help me like mindfulness, exercising, eating well and making sure I get outside often. But my depression? A totally different story.

It’s crying, it’s screaming, it’s pulling at my hair or my skin

Depression, I do not understand. I don’t know what causes it, what triggers it, what encourages it, what it looks like or how to stop it. But when it decides to make an unexpected and unwelcome appearance, it doesn’t plan on leaving.

Let me try and paint a picture of what it looks like for me.

When a depressive episode comes on, it usually begins with what I like to call a 'void'. I zone out so much that it feels like I’m not inside my own body. I’m distant from myself, my family and the whole world around me. It’s been compared to disassociation but I’m not one hundred percent sure that’s what it is. It feels like I’m outside of my body screaming at myself to snap out of it, but I just can’t hear anything. 

I’m like a zombie. I just mumble one word answers, refuse to make eye contact and won’t let anyone come near me, let alone touch me. Imagine what that does to my relationships. I can’t even begin to comprehend how hard it must be for the people around me who love and care about me, and honestly, I try not to because it shatters my heart to pieces. That’s how it starts, and it usually ends with my ‘allergic reaction’.

I can’t even begin to comprehend how hard it must be for the people around me who love and care about me

My brain just can’t work out what’s happening. I don’t know what I’m feeling, why I’m feeling it, where it came from. I have no answers for any of it. It’s not knowing anything, and therefore becoming more angry, sad and distant. I just need to answer the why’s.

I cry and cry and cry some more because I just can’t answer anything. I don’t know anything. I cannot stress that enough. My brain just does not know what is going on. It’s the most confusing thing I have ever experienced.

The main thing I can’t accept is that it it is depression. It’s a disease that sometimes can’t be controlled. It doesn’t ask before it invites itself into my life, it doesn’t have reasons, it doesn’t need them either. And it sure as hell doesn’t care what’s going on in my life.

Depression does not care

That’s the hardest thing. Because life is pretty amazing for me right now. I just landed the most amazing job working for How Mental, helping people to recognise, talk about and prioritise  mental health and wellbeing.

I’m fortunate enough to be buying my first house, and I finally launched a platform of my own that I’ve dreamt about for years. I have the most amazing boyfriend, someone I could only have ever dreamt about meeting let alone loving, who provides endless support, care and love on my best and worst days. My family are absolutely bat-shit crazy, but they’re my family and I love them dearly and really couldn’t ask for anything more. Life is good. 

But depression does not care.

That’s what I’m struggling to get on board with. I struggle to accept that that’s just how it is. And sometimes, it completely wipes me out. I’m unable to do normal things: work, socialise, exercise, even shower or get out of bed. I can do all the right things to help my mental health and be in a good place, but sometimes depression wins. It doesn’t matter what actions I take, depression takes over and the day goes however depression wants it to.

Depression may win a few battles, but that doesn’t mean it will win the war.

Post by
Cara Fielden