The never-ending battle of living with depression and anxiety and the fortress I built to protect myself.
This is a battle that many of us fight every single day of our lives. It’s hard for so-called “normal” people to understand, especially when they have never felt these feelings before. I have never, ever been normal! On the contrary, I have always been abnormal!
And those of us who do live in this abnormal mental state, know all too well how hard it is to wake up every morning and have to “fake it” every day.
At least that is what I do, fake a happy smile, for those around me. I would rather use no smile at all, it suits me. Some of you know what I am talking about.
My fear is real and yet I feel I need to hide it from others. Why is this? Because we have been taught that these feelings are bad, we are told to keep our chin up! I am so fucking done with it!
You are not alone!
Duh! Those of us who suffer from this illness know this but nevertheless, we still feel very much alone. So stop telling me shit I already know!
Here is how I would explain to a “normal” person what it’s like living life with depression and anxiety.
My fortress is made with anxiety, depression, fear, and pain.
Outside of my fortress is a battlefield and I have to fight every day for survival.
You see, anxiety and depression to me is a wall that I have built around myself, it’s my fortress, my safey safe. This fortress surrounds and protects me from fear and pain but in doing this, I also miss out on things that “could” bring me joy. “Could” is not a strong enough word to keep me out of my fortress.
On the inside.
I have put a little window in my fortress, so I can see out but there is no ceiling because I built the walls too high, this is a huge design flaw. Through my window, I can see the world happening around me and since there is no ceiling I can feel the sunshine, the rain and the cold.
I can see the happy faces of “normal” people living their lives as they walk past my window, sometimes they look inside and see me, but most of the time they don’t.
How do I get out?
I do have a door that I can open but it is very, very heavy and it takes all of my strength to push it open. There is no doorknob on the outside, it must be opened from inside. I built it like that on purpose. You can never be too careful you know. Sometimes I am able to push it open just a little and my husband and my family try to help me out by pulling on the door, as I push it from the inside trying to get out.
I am freed.
When the door finally opens and as I step outside, I feel the sunshine on my face and see the love in the faces of my loved ones around me and it gives me hope. I resolve to stay outside because it feels good to be free I tell myself but deep down I know it won’t last and the battle begins.
That damn cloud.
Will it find me? How long do I have before something happens? Who will be the one who lets me down this time? I relentlessly look over my shoulder watching and waiting. Smiling, I think to myself, what a beautiful blue sky, so far, so good.
Then I see it, off in the distance heading right for me. That familiar dark blue cloud that always follows me, l can hear it calling me home. I want to resist but there is that part of me that misses the safety of my fortress.
I turn and start to run away, my legs grow tired but still, I run, watching behind me, it’s still chasing me. Maybe I can outrun it this time but then as if on cue, I stumble and fall. As I lay on my back, I look up at the familiar face of my dark blue cloud as it smiles at me and eclipses the sun.
Retreat back to my fortress.
As I lie on the ground in defeat, trying to catch my breath, I suddenly feel the wind blowing, it’s hard for me to stand. I make my way to my feet and I begin to push head first against the wind and find my way back to my fortress.
I am exhausted. Even though I have shelter from the wind in here, my dark blue cloud is still hovering over me, sometimes it rains on me and sometimes it doesn’t. I often look up and hope that the sun will have mercy and shine on me but for some strange reason, that I can’t explain, I feel comfort when it does rain. It feels like home to me in the shadow of my blue cloud.
How long can I hide in here.
It feels like forever! I try to remember how it feels to be happy but it gets harder the longer I stay inside these walls. I know that I have again surrendered to the isolation I have come to depend on in my fortress.
No one can understand how safe I feel in here. I have, after all, built this fortress all by myself and it’s mine. It’s taken me a long time to construct and preserve this beautiful fortress of mine. It’s the only thing in my life I have control over.
No one understands.
Most people have no idea about all the pain and hard work it took to build my fortress. In here, I am concealed and safe. No one can see me cry and they certainly can’t hear me scream. Otherwise, they would be trying to break down the walls and rescue me, right?
Maybe if I open the window just a little, they could hear me. I must at least try, so I crack the window just a little. I hug my knees and rock back and forth as I wait for the one who will rescue me.
I begin to realize that no one is coming to rescue me. The crack in the window must be too small for anyone to hear me. Maybe I will open the door this time and see if that works. So I crack the door just a little and again I wait. What is taking them so long? Does anyone even notice I’m in here?
I am going to have to venture out on my own. Maybe there will be someone on the other side of the door that can comfort me or at the very least, understand what I am going through. So I take a deep breath and push with all my might against the heavy door.
Will I find a friend.
I hope that when I open this door I will find strength on the other side and we can fight together through the epic battle of my life. I strive to be hopeful that with each passing day I will find peace and joy in my mind. I want that bliss!