Anxiety and Depression - A List of Metaphors
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 18% of the adult population suffers from an anxiety disorder. Still, as a sufferer of anxiety and depression, one of the hardest things can be understanding, accepting and explaining what you're going through. One of the many fun aspects of anxiety: overthinking the legitimacy of your own anxiety!
As someone who has been through - and known others who have been through - some of this candy coated mess of anxiety and depression, I have come to understand and explain it using metaphors to more common experiences. Go ahead, find out if your experience is similar to mine or if you find that one way to help your loved one finally understand you!
On the helplessness of feeling like you can't keep up, but no one understand
It's like having a broken leg that no one can see. You're expected to walk, just as everyone else is walking. What no one can tell though, is that walking, for you, is tremendous pain. Because you should have no reason to walk slower than others, you feel as if you lack the ability to be faster. Soon, you find that people around you are growing and starting to walk faster, then jog, then run and finally sprint. You're still pulling the weight of your broken leg, pushing through the pain with a struggling smile on your face. You are now all alone and everyone else is miles away. You push through the pain but you can't go much faster, so even though you're putting in all - and more - of yourself, you're slower than others. Your struggling smile is now a defeated straight face at best, your effort seems worthless and you convince yourself you don't have the ability to run like others do and even trying to walk begins to look pointless.
On the way things change on good vs. bad days
You have 5 things on your to-do list.
A good day. You wake up, its a bright, sunny morning and you're motivated to finish your little tasks and enjoy the rest of your long day ahead. Your tasks are minor bumps in your path that you can get past by simply stepping over - or at worst jumping over. You then meet a smooth path where you expect to find happiness and joy in your favorite activities.
A bad day. You wake up and you're surrounded by mountains you could never climb. It's dark, it's ominous and you're not ready to get out of bed to face this terrifying day. You try to focus your muddled mind on one mountain, a small part maybe, figure out how to climb it. Before you can, another mountain moves into your focus and you know you can't climb both all in this one short day. Even if you did, you'd have three more left, so you're crippled by the belief that there is no way you would succeed. You're tied up with chains created by indecision, anxiety, shame and hopelessness.
On deciding to take that much deserved break
One of the hardest things to do is to know when you've reached your limit and need to stop and attend to your mental health.
Look at it like this.
You're running a race with a broken leg (yes, back to that again, shh) and you are wondering whether you should or should not go on. Imagine if you did complete it? The glory you would find, the pride of having struggled and fought through your hardest time. But imagine, on the other hand, that once you finish, your leg would be so damaged you could never run - or walk - again? You would probably find that stopping, taking some time off to heal and building back your strength leaves you with a much longer life of success and happiness. While continuing through your pain is brave and maybe even heroic, losing your future for it is not worth it.
The last thing that this broken leg has in common with anxiety and depression is that it heals (yeah, tell me that on a bad day). As hard as it is to believe and as painful as it seems sometimes, I truly believe that once we get through this, we can be stronger and find that we have learnt a lot from our negative experience.
Fellow sufferers, hang on, use your cast and limp your way through. The good days are coming.