The Depression-Anxiety Paradox
Imagine that you wake up one day and you encounter an immense force tying you down to the bed. Getting up seems pointless therefore you push forward your duties and try not to think much about it. “It’s just a silly day. It will go away. It doesn’t matter if I waist a day doing nothing.” This happens one morning after another and you start struggling with ethical values because you are missing out many important things, neglecting to be responsible. Then, without even noticing, you get entangled into a vice circle unable to escape the ugly reality.
I have been there several times; I screw up half a year in collage due to this issue. You might think that it is not such a big problem, to get up, but there is when irrational thinking joins the game and messes up everything. During my years going to therapy I learned some techniques to identify and “fight” this kind of thinking process but it is still a nightmare sometimes. The key, I would say, is not to be so hard on yourself but that doesn’t make it any easier.
Yesterday a friend of mine who is enduring a rough situation wrote this concerning to the fact that he is missing classes because he cannot get up in the mornings.
Depression: fuck it. Don’t go.
Anxiety: But then we will fail the course and we are missing important things, and we are disappointing everybody and if I don’t show up this week, how am I going to attend the next one without knowing the content they are teaching?”
Depression: Fuck it. Don’t go next week.
You have no idea about how much I related to this. And what is more sad is that it is true. I have been there and I know many people who feel the same way falling over and over into the same trap. Once I met a guy who was involved in helping people with mental disorders, but he couldn’t cope with the fact that he was depressed and needed real support. He was feeling guilty and thought that everybody was going to reject him and laugh. From an outside point of view it might seem absolutely ridiculous, but irrational thinking acts like a poison getting under your skin and altering your perception of the world around you.
Mental pain is less dramatic than physical pain, but it is more common and also more hard to bear. The frequent attempt to conceal mental pain increases the burden: it is easier to say “My tooth is aching” than to say “My heart is broken.”
― C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain
There are different kinds, from catastrophizing to paranoia and it is quite hard to get out of the loop. From the inside it seems hopeless and it makes sense. You truly believe it. A huge challenge that you also encounter is explaining it to other people, which for me it always brings me really awkward moments because it is not something easy to understand since they can see reality as it is. Holding hands with it comes the fear to feeling judge, but for me the worst part is to disappoint the people close to me, the ones supporting me. When I am on that stage I feel like I am an absolute failure even if I have strong proofs demonstrating otherwise, so many times I choose to stay quiet. Bad decision, I know.
One of the main points I have been working with is the compassion for oneself, avoiding hard critique and devaluating what you really worth. It is true that sometimes we are our worst enemies and irrational thinking doesn’t hesitate on taking advantage of that. Being conscious about it is not enough, but it is a step forward. The best you can do is not be scared about being honest and trust others. I have found a huge relieve by coming out with my problems and I have also discovered on the way that many people actually care and try to help you.
Depression has many other paradoxes and incoherencies but when it teams up with anxiety it creates a combo breaker.
This article is part of the campaign #WritingForDepression
— Originally published as “The Depression-Anxiety Paradox” at The Awakening on Oct 06, 2015. —
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