A month ago I went through a rough time with one of my closest friends. I think we both struggle with various things, but we always try to be supportive of each other. During one of our conversations, I said to him: “If mental illness could be reasoned away with love and friendship, I wouldn’t have anxiety and depression.”
I’ve been clinically depressed off and on for most of my adult life. What I now know is anxiety, I’ve always had.
Despite those things, I’m so terribly fortunate. My relationship with my partner is magical and continues to grow; I could not have dreamed of a relationship this good. In the beginning, I’m sure I felt I didn’t deserve it (deserve is a funny concept, anyway), and it took me years to work out that it was for real and, hopefully, mutually lovely.
If a relationship could reason away mental illness, I’d never worry about anxiety or depression again.
I am so fortunate to have some of the friends I do. I may not live near any of them, but I’m grateful all the same for their presence in this world, and that I get to be a part of their lives.
If friendship could reason away mental illness, I’d never worry about anxiety or depression again.
I sometimes feel almost guilty, like I’m so supported, how could I still struggle with either of these things? How can I still have anxiety? How can I still be depressed? I live in a nice apartment, I have clothes and a bed. I get to be around a creature who is delightful and sweet and, weirdly, seems to want to be around me, too. I have a partner who I delight in, and whose company I am increasingly grateful for.
And yet. The struggle wages on.
Because mental illness can’t be reasoned away.
I’ve historically been more depressed than this. I’ve been so much further down that hole than I ever want to be again. I’m grateful to have not been suicidal in over a decade. Feeling suicidal, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy (if I even had a worst enemy). I only ever seriously tried to kill myself once, and I was devastated that I was found and taken to the hospital.
I’m so glad I didn’t succeed.
I love life. I really do. Despite hurting over things I’ve done or didn’t do, or things I’m not doing currently, I really do love living. I love my partner. I love our dog. I love the people who are my friends. I love big things and small things and am grateful for all of it. I find joy and beauty everywhere.
And yet I still have anxiety and depression.
Logic doesn’t filter through them.
I wouldn’t be able to reason away a broken leg, so why does it surprise me that I can’t reason away either condition?
I’m fortunate in that I’ve learned over the years what my triggers are, and how to deal with them (e.g.: spiraling thoughts). I’m fortunate that I’ve worked through depression before and come out the other side, not necessarily “cured,” but certainly better off. I know I will find a way to work through this, too. But I’m not there yet. I keep trying, will keep trying, but it’s a process. Maybe I will be trying forever. It’s not ideal, but it’s okay. And I’m grateful for literally every single person whose kindness has touched me. I hope that I can repay those kindnesses when and where possible.