Life or Death

The small acts that can make all the difference to someone with anxiety and depression.

Life or Death

ADHD, Major Depression, Major Anxiety and Social Anxiety. Those are my medical diagnoses.

I can't post a picture from a test or procedure to show you what it looks like. I can't explain to you how anyone else with these diagnoses feels. It's not the same for everyone.

But, for me, it's living in a perpetual state of fear, worry and guilt.

It's always be exhausted and never getting real rest. It's your brain never shutting off. It's waking up 5-6 times every night for no reason other than something anxiety driven.

It's knowing I have to participate in the world to survive, and at the same time feeling that if I could never see or speak to another soul I'd be just fine. Maybe even happy.

It's mustering up every bit of energy I have to get out of bed and go to work 5 days a week. And, in moments that I'd actually love to go out to dinner with friends, even knowing it would help, the thought of it is paralyzing. But, I know that if I tell people that's why I can't make it, I'll still get the eye-roll, or the "tsk tsk" or the "it's so hit or miss with you."

And in reality, it is! I know this! I'm hit or miss with me too... I say yes to a lot of things I'd love to do, but I don't know that when the time comes I'll be able to force myself into it. And, then it's the guilt for disappointing people again.

If it's a gathering of 2-3 people that I'm comfortable around, it's usually easier to participate. If I know it's going to be a larger group of people that I don't know, and that I may have to interact with, the fear they may not like me or that I may make things awkward is absolutely, mind-numbingly terrifying.

So, what happens? I bear the label of "flake" or learn to deal with not being asked to do things at all. It's too hard for people to grasp the need to feel included even though I likely won't show up.

I want to be reaffirmed that it's ok. That there is a modicum of understanding from SOMEONE.

And, if I do manage to hit a moment where I'm excited to show up, and do, in fact, come to your gathering, I will still probably sit and play with your dog or cat more than I'll interact with other people.

I want to be reaffirmed that it's ok and that someone understands.

On top of all this I am an incredibly introverted personality. I am a person who doesn't even like to speak until spoken to. (At least until I'm more comfortable with you as an individual.)

This is one area that I feel I can work on, and make improvements, and I am trying.

While, to most people, this may seem so small, just saying "good morning" to someone before they say it to me is big progress!

It's a step towards me being aware of my actions and the perception people may have of me and doing the little things I know I can do and take responsibility for.

As I said in the beginning, this looks and feels different to anyone who suffers with it.

That's what makes it so hard to understand and treat.

But, I've also been lucky in never having feelings of self harm or in wanting to hurt others.

So many have had these feelings.

So many do and don't talk about it. They never tell anyone.

Friends and family are usually blindsided when those feelings finally take their toll.

Even in 2019, there are so many people who don't or won't acknowledge or admit even to themselves that they have feelings of depression and/or anxiety.

This leads to so many people who never reach out for help. The stigma, for them, is still too great.

So, I guess my ultimate point is if someone is brave enough to tell you what's going on and why they feel or act the way they do, try to be understanding. Try to be supportive rather than dismissive.

It's already hard enough living a life with this constant inner turmoil. The fear, the worry, the guilt, on most days, has one wanting to claw their way out of their own skin.

There are these people in your life.

And the one thing they need most from you is to feel they're not alone.

Because they usually feel they are.

So, simply accept this about your person.

And, if what you want is to just be a friend, you may have to be the one to reach out first. But that simple act could go such a long way in your person's life. And, odds are you'll never even know it, but, it's the one thing that, for some, could possibly be the difference in life or death.

Jennah Wittenbarger
Jennah Wittenbarger
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Jennah Wittenbarger
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