“Depression is a dark cloud that is always looming over. Somedays the sun breaks through, and on those days, I smile, I laugh, I am OK. Other days, rain pours from this cloud and pounds against the ground, drowning out everyone and everything surrounding. On these days, I just can’t fake a smile; I can’t pretend I am OK. Most days, this cloud just keep the sky overcast — not a bad day, but not exactly a good one either. It’s just a day.”

“Depression takes all of my motivation, my joy, my positivity. It literally drains the life out of me. Anxiety makes me afraid of everything. My mind never slows down.”

“In these dark hours, I am going over every awful thing I have ever done. I am thinking of things I could have done better. I am thinking of the future, terrified I will never amount to anything. I am thinking of the present, the million better ways I could be spending my time to improve myself and my future.”

To My Parents: I Am Lying When I Tell You I Am Fine

“I want to die but I’m afraid to. I want to live but it hurts.”

“Sometimes you can do more damage by giving unsolicited advice.”

“I often really need somebody, but I’m scared to say anything because I’ve been invalidated or people will think I’m too “dramatic” or “sensitive.” Sometimes when I do muster up the courage to say something, it’s a cry for help that goes unheard.”

“I’m not asking anyone to take care of me, walk on egg shells or make themselves available 24/7 just to talk. The last thing I want to do is upset or inconvenience anybody in any way. I am not asking for anyone’s sympathy, likes or shares.”

“We don’t all fit into little boxes that certain medications cure. Mental illness is messy, it’s frustrating and often feels like a losing battle.”

What It Feels Like to Lose the Will to Live

“We need to talk.”

When I hear those words, a slew of anxious thoughts swirl around my brain and it can physically feel like I got the wind knocked out of me.

Your thoughts immediately turn worst case scenario. This can apply to any variation in any setting, of course.

I remember, a few months after starting my current job, I was asked to meet with two of my bosses, the original co-founders of the company. Part of the reason I was freaked out was that I don’t generally report directly to either of them. I have two people that are usually in between, the project manager and technical director, depending on what specifically I’m working on. So, naturally, I was convinced I was going to be fired. But I couldn’t figure out why.

My work was good and I always received great feedback (I still do, almost two years later, even though most of the time I don’t feel I deserve it). My first thought was that maybe I’d been doing things wrong that I was unaware of.

The most “logical” thing that came to mind had to do with the fact I was often needing to leave early because I was literally falling asleep at my desk every day. (Which btw, is completely not normal for me, ever and it stressed me out that it was happening because I couldn’t explain it.)

I see these conversations play out over and over and hopelessness creeps in as I prepare for the worst.

The worst part was, I was told about this meeting around 10am, but the meeting was not going to be until 9am the next day. That gave me about 23 hours to think of every possible thing I could be getting fired for. It was also going to be at the Tim Horton’s down the street because our office (which we’ve since moved out of and are going to be moving again in the next year) was ridiculously small and there was nowhere to really have a private conversation.

Many people may write this phrase off as a simple heads up to a future conversation, but as someone with anxiety, it feels like a death sentence.

To be honest, it’s easier to be told we need to talk immediately before the “talking” is to happen. Don’t give my anxiety time to stew and come up with ridiculous scenarios that are never going to happen.

Turns out, that my only “logical” explanation for the meeting is exactly what they wanted to talk to me about. Except they weren’t going to fire me for it. They were concerned about me. They wanted to make sure that I was okay and figure out if I needed a schedule change or something to make things easier for me. They were more concerned about me than how my issues were effecting the company.

In situations like this, being transparent is important. When I have an idea of what the situation is, it helps ease any anxiety.

I felt an immediate sense of relief that I wasn’t being fired, coupled with “holy shit these guys actually legitimately care about my well-being” and I burst into tears. I was glad I’d gotten there before them and chosen a table where I could sit facing away from most other customers, but if you’re familiar with the common Timmy’s store design, you know that also meant I was facing directly out a window to the parking lot, and even though I was beside the door, the foot path to the door required passing almost all the customers and the counter where all the staff was. So, not the most comfortable place to be having an anxiety attack and crying, especially in front of my employers.

It was a few months later when I finally made the connection that my antidepressants were causing my extreme, chronic state of exhaustion and sleepiness. My doctor and I made some adjustments that seems to help a lot (for a few more months before my brain and body decided to go a different way, but I’m not going to get into that story right now) and I was finally able to get through an entire week without dozing off at my desk.

The Most Daunting Phrase to Hear When You Have Anxiety

Awareness of mental illness on general is also important because I was very clearly struggling when I was a kid but I didn’t know. I didn’t have a clue what anxiety was and only knew depression from the glamourized way the media portrayed it. Whenever I tried to express my feelings, I was simply invalidated by my family. When I had unexplained physical symptoms, no one ever thought to consider anxiety. Instead I was left in agonizing pain for years without an explanation as to why. One doctor even had the nerve to tell my dad that it was all in my head. Looking back now, it was so incredibly obvious I had anxiety, but years of being invalidated let me unable to feel safe expressing my feelings and convincing myself that I was just being overdramatic or I sucked at handling life. I didn’t know that I was struggling with legitimate medical conditions that could be treated. I didn’t know I didn’t have to live like that.

What We Can’t Forget to Talk About When We Spread Suicide Awareness

Most people would never know that I’ve been suicidal, simply by looking at me. If there was anyone in my life who had consistently seen me every day for the past 5 years, they might see a slight difference in my overall mood from day to day, but I tend to keep my true feelings bottled up inside and no one ever sees them. Based on what I’ve learned of Chester Bennington, I suspect he was very much the same. I think this photo his wife posted on Twitter recently is proof that it’s not always obvious that someone is suicidal.

Look at that smile. He was with his family, and very clearly happy in that moment. I often find it very easy to be present in the moment, although, to be honest, it’s been a lot more difficult in the past 15 months. But usually, it comes very naturally, for me to smile and joke around and genuinely enjoy the moment. It’s once I’m alone that things go bad.

It’s still surprising, even to me, that this guy with this happy smile, took his life only a few days after that photo was taken.

The reason it’s so important to address mental health accessibility for youth, Kurdyak said, is that some of the most common mental illnesses, such as anxiety and depression, have their first onset between the ages of 16 and 30.

“So you really need early and prompt access when these illnesses develop to have better outcomes down the road. And any delay in treatment we know affects the individuals lives as a result,” he said.

~ CTV News — Young Canadians struggling to access mental health services: study

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This is so relatable!

“Sometimes I have what seems like a burst of anger and people think I have anger issues and that I’m being rude to people. I’m actually having anxiety and getting overwhelmed and it comes out as frustration and anger. I wish when it happened those close to me would take a minute to ask if I’m OK and what they can do for me instead of getting annoyed or saying I have anger issues. I hate that people think I’m rude to others when really, I just have anxiety.” — Sarah A.

~ The Mighty15 Secrets of ‘Rude’ People With Anxiety

Before I knew I had anxiety and depression, I had convinced myself that I had anger issues. I’ve you’ve read some of my earlier posts about how I ended up getting diagnosed, you’ll know that I realized something was legitimately wrong after hearing Wil Wheaton’s story on Aisha Tyler’s podcast. It felt like he was describing me. I’d forgotten this until just now, as I started writing this paragraph, but I had had the thought, on several occasions, to go to the doctor before hearing Wil’s story, but I was sure that I’d be told I just have anger issues and that I needed to suck it up and deal with it or that I needed to go to anger management. I think it was the moments where I found myself sobbing over the stupidest shit and being completely overwhelmed with everything in my life that made me think that, but then I’d remember all the anger I kept bottled up that was beginning to spill out at work when I was getting close to reaching my breaking point. I think that’s why hearing Wil describe his experience, at the exact moment I did, has such an impact on me. He explained how he was not “sad” but just always agitated and it was exactly how I was feeling right around that time, in addition to simply being completely overwhelmed. Once I found out I had anxiety and depression – and did some research to figure out exactly what that meant – it was like suddenly the lightbulb went on and everything in my entire life made complete sense.

I have heard from too many professionals to not use the word “bad,” or use harsh words or punishments; that is what I follow. Why? I know how much it destroys an already-fragile self-esteem to have someone call you these things.

I know when those words are used in reference to myself, I internalize them, add them to the negative tape on constant repeat in my mind…. oh, and before I forget the point behind this post?

“Even the littlest things could affect me in the biggest way.”

You don’t realize how incredibly hurtful the smallest thing can feel when a person is actively struggling with depression. Especially​ hidden/concealed/functioning/high functioning/smiling depression. We may look fine on the outside, but that’s just the nature of our personalities. Depression is tearing us apart on the inside already and we could be having what feels like the worst possible day of our lives. Add your small comment or joke and it could easily send us over the edge. It’s possible to know what someone else is dealing with at any given moment.

The Words People With Depression Leave Unsaid

“Aggressively do your homework. […] Do your research and you’ll gain a better understanding of what is happening and you’ll know what to expect.”

“Seek professional help sooner rather than later. Anxiety is treatable and there is no need for extended struggling. And there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is as real as physical illnesses, even though we can’t see any of them on the surface.”

“And almost lastly this: People with anxiety are thinkers. We’re over-thinkers, actually. It makes us creative and compassionate, sensitive and caring. As odd as it is to say, it makes us good people.”

What You Need to Know If Your Child Is Diagnosed With Anxiety

This is painfully true.

Sometimes saying I have a headache is simply easier than:

“You know what? I’m not OK. I feel so, so low and nothing is working. I hate myself. I feel stupid, nobody loves me, nobody understands and at this moment in time, it doesn’t feel like anything will ever get better. I feel guilty for feeling like this. I feel so alone.”

Why It’s Easier to Say I Have a ‘Headache’ Than Say I’m Depressed