For a while now, I've been battling the sibling demons, depression and anxiety. If you count my first spiral down into depression (a depression that was far, far worse than the thing I deal with now), in the fall of 2004, that makes six years, nearly seven. The first time, I got help fairly promptly, because it was bad, and Sam and my mom knew something was wrong. This second time, I don't know how long it took me to get help, because I know now that I was in deep denial that something was wrong. For perhaps a year, even, I pretended I didn't know what was going on, and then it wasn't depression that led me to a doctor. It was anxiety.
Now, my problem is almost entirely anxiety, though I personally do not think you can quite uncouple the two; to be deeply anxious is to experience at least some low level of depression. That is why the disorders are siblings. It is nearly impossible for someone who doesn't know clinical anxiety to understand why this kind of anxiety needs help, and perhaps even medicinal help, but I'm going to try very hard to explain what it's like for me. But first, because you might be the kind of person who scoffs at the idea of an anxiety so deep it is pathological, I want to say something about what your arguments might be.
- Everyone worries! I mean, come on. Yes, I do believe everyone does worry. Nearly everyone, anyhow. But not everyone worries about having skin cancer because of a black spot on their toenail. Not everyone has panic attacks brought on by the black spot. Not everyone wakes up in the middle of the night, with night sweats, diarrhea, and splitting headaches, with anxiety as the cause. Not everyone is convinced that the people they love are constantly a hair's breadth away from death and danger, and actively worries about it. Most people don't have panic attacks due to homework, or being away from home, or getting a mortgage. Panic attacks, in fact, are not normal.
- You're just being irrational. You should stop thinking about this stuff. Well no shit. Hence the disorder. I know I'm being irrational and yet I can do nothing. to. stop. the. fear. I can't stop the panic attacks by telling myself I'm being irrational, or I would have stopped the goddamn panic attacks. I can't stop the anxiety caused by thinking that Sam's going to die by telling myself that I should just stop thinking about it, because it's irrational. Because believe me, if that worked, I'd be fine right now.
- You just want attention. And this, this couldn't be farther away from the truth. I was in denial for at least a year because I DIDN'T want the attention. I can't explain to you how awful it feels to know your brain is failing you somehow, and to not want the people around you to know. It's still damn hard to talk about; I'm guessing that most people around me didn't know that I struggle with this, and most won't, if they don't read this. It's embarrassing and awful for me. I can't even believe I'm writing this.
- Mental disorders like anxiety are all in your head. Snap out of it. Well, if that worked, I'd be fine right now. But arguments like this don't work, because they're simply not true. They are all in your head, yes, but they're not something you can snap out of. Believe me.