Anxiety and depression are separate conditions, but many of us experience both of them at the same time. There can be a huge contrast between anxiety and depression. Sometimes it feels as though depression is pulling us one way, and anxiety is pulling us in the opposite direction. It can leave us feeling trapped somewhere in the middle.
Living With Both Anxiety And Depression
It’s relatively common for those who live with depression to also be living with a generalised anxiety disorder. 7.8% of people in the UK live with mixed anxiety and depression. It’s the most common mental health condition in Britain.
Living With Depression
Depression often slows us down. It’s draining. It can leave us feeling energy-less. Often we find that we have no motivation whatsoever. We might not feel like doing anything much at all. At times, it can be hard to connect with others. Our limbs can feel heavy and doing anything at all can feel like more effort than we have the energy for. We might feel numb and empty.
Living With Anxiety
Living with anxiety can feel completely opposite to living with depression. It can speed up our thoughts and heighten our senses. It can make us feel like we need to do everything right now (or preferably 5 minutes ago). At times, it might feel like everybody is watching every single thing that we’re doing and judging us on it. We can feel restless and jittery, scared and worried. It can make us feel like we should always be on the go and can’t stop or rest.
Pulling Us In Different Directions
Being stuck in the middle of both anxiety and depression can be extremely distressing because they are so different.
Depression can mean that we have absolutely no motivation to do anything. Even if we do have the motivation to do something, we often feel too exhausted to do it. But anxiety causes us to worry about all the things we’re too exhausted to do. Hours and hours can be spent with depression leaving us empty with nothing left to give, whilst anxiety sends our brains into a tangled muddle of worry about all the things we’re not doing.
Anxiety can create stress and worry about what people think of us, or how much they’re judging us. At the same time, depression causes us to feel inconsequential. Anxiety can mean that we’re too worried to speak to anyone about things, in case they’re judging us. At the same time, depression tells us there’s no point in speaking to anyone about our worries. This can leave us feeling isolated.
We feel both too much and not enough, all at the same time.
Being Stuck In The Middle
It’s almost as if our mental illnesses are fighting one another and we’re left trapped in the middle. It’s draining, exhausting, and can leave us feeling incredibly upset and distressed, not having a clue what to do. We can’t win. If we do what depression is telling us to do, our anxiety grows. If we try and do what anxiety tells us, we end up depleted and exhausted, which only worsens our depression. There are times when we have no idea what we want because we’re so caught up in the different thoughts bouncing around our head.
It can be difficult to know which symptoms to focus on first, which condition to work at. When our head is noisy and things are difficult, it can be hard to remember to look after ourselves too. But it’s important that we don’t forget self-care in it all. That includes making, and keeping, any health appointments, asking for help, accepting help, and asserting the boundaries around the things which nourish us.
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