We’re Not Asking for Pity. We’re Asking for Patience.

Everyone sees it. Everyone talks about it. Everyone thinks they know what it is. But usually, they have no idea. No idea, whatsoever. It’s a touchy subject for a lot of people. It’s something that a lot of people struggle with. It’s something that many people want to hide, because they feel ashamed or guilty or like they aren’t “normal” because of it.

I’m one of these people. One of the millions of people who struggle with depression and anxiety. Many of my family members and some of my friends know this. But most of them don’t. Why? Because I’ve gotten so good at hiding it. I do nearly anything and everything I can to hide this side of myself from people, especially the people I care about. Unfortunately, many people lack a basic understanding of what depression and anxiety are. So here I am to give you a better perspective on it, and to stand up for others like myself who are too afraid to. People who are afraid that they’ll be judged or looked down on because of this.

Depression isn’t being sad for no reason. It’s feeling alone and lost and not knowing why. Anxiety isn’t worrying because you have nothing better to do. It’s wanting to please everyone but not being able to, and then expecting something terrible to happen because of this. Depression isn’t something you can “just snap out of”. It follows you everywhere you go, and can come and go without warning. Anxiety isn’t “making a big deal out of the little things”. It’s going to the bathroom five times during an outing with friends just so they don’t see you cry or hyperventilate or have a breakdown. We don’t overthink things just for the hell of it. A lot of times, it isn’t a single, coherent thought that upsets us. It’s a feeling. We feel like we’ve been in a certain situation before and remember the bad things that followed. At least that’s how it often goes for me.

I really don’t know a whole lot about what causes it, as I haven’t done a great amount of research on it, and I don’t plan to yet. I want this writing to be an authentic take on what it’s like to be in this situation, and don’t want multiple facts and statistics to take away from that. I do know that there can be chemical imbalances in a person’s body that can contribute to depression, anxiety, and other mental or emotional struggles that someone may be dealing with. And this is what you have to remember when dealing with someone who struggles with that. They. Can’t. Help it. Yes, there are ways to cope with these struggles. Some people do breathing exercises or play with stress balls or find ways to occupy their mind so they don’t focus on anything too overwhelming. Some people talk to counselors. Some people take medicine. But here’s something everyone needs to remember: These medicines are NOT “happy pills”. They don’t put us in a daze or give us a whole new personality. They help regulate the chemicals that we lack or have too much of so that we can think clearly, without the gloomy ideas or swirling thoughts that would otherwise distract us from thinking rationally.

I’ve always felt like it’s a magnet for judgement and insults and stereotypes that aren’t anywhere near being accurate. Because even though we share that picture on Facebook that talks about how awful anxiety is and how we need to be more mindful of it, few of us ever think about it that way when we’re thrust into a situation where we’re dealing with someone who struggles. And the worst part about it? It makes me feel unlovable. I say “me” because I can’t speak for everyone else, but I would be shocked to hear that no one else feels this way. It causes issues for my family, because it’s hard for them to see me hurt. It causes issues for my friends because I blow up their phones with worried text messages. It causes major issues with dating, because most guys don’t understand why I have such strong trust issues or why I don’t let my guard down or why I so often ask if everything is okay.

I don’t know all the facts. I only know what I’ve dealt with, what a few others have dealt with, and what many people think about this situation. I can’t speak for everyone, but I can open up about my own situation in hopes that those who are reading this will be more understanding of someone else’s situation. Be patient, be kind, and be understanding. Remember that just because you don’t deal with something doesn’t mean that it isn’t real or valid or true. Everyone has struggles, so be respectful of those, whether it’s depression or anxiety or something completely different.

We’re not asking for pity. We’re asking for patience.

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