What It's Like to Live With Both Anxiety and Depression
Overlapping mental health disorders can make diagnosis, treatment, and day-to-day life extremely hard for sufferers.
Written by Jordan Ruhnke
01 This article was originally published on The Mighty on April 13, 2017.
02 In it, Jordan Ruhnke describes what life with the comorbidity of anxiety and depression is like. Comorbidity is the simultaneous presence of two chronic diseases or conditions in a patient.
03 If you're suffering and in immediate need of help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
Depression takes away all of your motivation and drive to do anything, but anxiety makes you want to constantly do that activity.
Depression tells you thoughts such as, “It’s not worth it to get out of bed today,” or “You’re worthless, stupid and no one cares about you.” Even though it is all in your head, you somehow believe it. Anxiety continually throws “what if” thoughts around your head. That is the cruel reality of living with both depression and anxiety.
One makes you not want to do anything, but the other makes you terrified that if you miss something, you will be farther behind than what you already are. Many people don’t understand why people who have depression and anxiety act the way they do. It is because they are constantly fighting with themselves.
I live with depression and anxiety. It is scary to live with one, but I find living with both to be an absolute nightmare.
With my anxiety, it is hard for me to drive to therapy every week. I am constantly overthinking everything, no matter how big or small the activity is. As I drive to therapy, my stomach aches. I get sweaty palms, and my heart race increases. I feel shaky and lightheaded, but I keep driving because I know therapy will help me in the long run.
I am still terrified to check myself in at the front. I am always terrified I will mess up what I am saying, or I will trip on the rug as I walk into the office. I never have, but having anxiety makes it a constant fear. My brain goes off on its own, not listening to me as I try to tell my body to calm down and that everything will be OK. My mind is already making me feel nauseous the closer I get to arriving. It’s not that I don’t love my therapist — I do. She has helped me in so many ways. It is just the fact that I am nervous about telling her everything I have felt since the last time I have spoken with her.
Telling her I have had a bad week is hard enough, but telling her why I’ve had a bad week when nothing is wrong feels absolutely terrible. Why did I have such a rough time this last week? Why do I feel sad and angry when nothing is wrong in my life? Why do I constantly feel like a mistake and feel like I am never good enough for anyone, no matter how hard I try? Those thoughts flood my brain. It is hard enough telling her when I feel suicidal, but why I feel the way I do is even more challenging because nothing is making me feel that way.
Those are just the thoughts going around in my brain at this very moment. Waking up in the middle of the night from a night terror is also terrifying. Nothing triggers it; it is just a bad dream, but my mind goes into fight or flight mode and begins a panic attack. My parents hear me scream and my mom almost always comes running in concern. As my heart pounds against my chest and my whole body shakes from not being able to breathe, I try to explain to her I just had a bad dream.
She goes back to bed, but I don’t. I lie awake, mentally exhausted. She falls asleep, but I don’t. I sit there in my bed for hours, just staring up at the ceiling because my anxiety is whirling thoughts through my head. I freak out about walking into school the next morning. Will I feel any motivation to put on any makeup and wear a cute outfit or will I roll out of bed, put my messy hair in a bun and just put on a pair of sweatpants and a bra? There are mornings when I leave the house looking like death because it was so exhausting just to get out of bed.
Occasionally, I will have a good morning and actually do something with myself. What I enjoy the most about this whole ordeal is the fact that when I walk into the classroom, no one can see how much I am hurting or how tired I am. They only see me, the girl who seems like she doesn’t care. The girl who seems like she has her life put together because she laughs and smiles all the time. I wish I could be both of those, but I am not. I put on a facade, not wanting anyone to ask questions because I don’t know what I would say. Would I lie and say I am OK or would I sit there, break down and tell them what I am thinking and how I really feel?
This is just the sad reality of living with both depression and anxiety, the polar opposites.
If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.