I have fought depression and anxiety most of my life. For so long it took so much: my internal peace, employment, connection with family and friends an any sort of optimistic and hopeful outlook toward the future.
I grew up under two loving parents and a younger brother I was always a shy child, generally withdrawn from others and prone to doing quiet reflections, spending time in books and alone and from an early age feeling sometimes quiet alone and cut off from other people.
Growing up at that time my parent’s were not in the best space either, their relationship appeared quite detached to me. I remember them fighting in front of me and being quite intimidated and scared many times not knowing how and when tension in their relationship would manifest and why it was doing so in the first place.
I will just stop here quickly to let you know that I am not in any way going to use this website to bag my parents. People who solely blame their parents for all their problems normally struggle to grow and never really mature in themselves. I love my parents a lot and our relationship now has never been better. I am truly grateful for their loving care throughout the years, one of the reason we have built such a successful relationship nowadays is the ability to reflect on how our family unit has changed for the better and how we have all worked through our own problems and difficulties and become much more of a cohesive and tight unit.
Throughout most of my childhood Mum was also a practicing alcoholic whose anxiety and uncertainty I absorbed consciously and unconsciously, my Dad generally was very work-oriented who has a serious temper. So on the one hand I was absorbing the anxiety from my Mum and generally was frightened and apprehensive of my father’s emotions, which were liable to be volatile and unpredictable.
At this age around 4-6 I really couldn’t talk to anyone else about these fears and uncertainties that began to plague and torment my mind.Entering school I noticed that I became uncomfortable in social setting, paranoid about not fitting in and not feeling comfortable with others. I started to become increasingly attracted to spending a lot of time in fantasy, reading tonnes of comics, fiction books and delving into my imagination excessively.
I loved to immerse myself in fiction and movies. In terms of school work I really struggled to pay attention in class, being easily distracted by my mind and would often zone out and daydream. I struggled to understand concepts and material, being to afraid and frightened to reach out for help and too anxious to speak up and admit I didn’t understand anything for fear of judgement.
Patterns of entrenched thoughts, feelings and behaviors were taking shape revolving around being afraid of what other people would think of me. I became also fearful at night, become convinced people were going to break into my house and murder me. I stayed up most night as a self-imposed watchman, guarding and watching out for terrorists of the night, guarding for myself. Not trusting in my parents and believing the world was a dark place full of uncertainty and shadows of the night. I was also to be aware of increasing nightmares and tension in all areas of my life.
These all made me very wary of my body and again very frightened that dark forces were beyond me control pulling me here and there at whim and had control and power over me.
At school I was performing badly, I had mentally given up trying and settled for mediocrity. I started to really believe the idea that I was just very ordinary and not intelligent at all. Many school papers noted problems of expression and articulation.
I struggled to make friends and build enriching and positive relationships. Often I found making friends just hard. I didn’t know how to fit in – I started really becoming uncomfortable in my own skin.
Internally I was fighting the world. I suffered some bullying in high school too. What can I say sometimes kids can be cruel. I also bullied other people when I got the chance too, the weaker ones, but I didn’t too this too often. I knew from a young age that I had a caring, compassionate heart but I just couldn’t let it out, I had to bury it under layers of protection.
Not being able to form friendships came from problems with trust. After all if I couldn’t trust my parents, orhow my body reacted to things, or even myself, how could I begin to trust others. I viewed others as more stronger than myself, more together, more in control and just naturally blessed with more composure. They had legitimate lives whereas mine wasn’t. During high school I really became convinced people’s internal state was akin to the image they were presenting to the world.
So I became drawn into doing things to give me more status and be perceived as seemingly more powerful. I became more and more attracted to stronger personalities, copying seemingly strong and powerful people to make friends or to better relationships. None of this was the true me: most of it was motivated by good intentions and a painful inability to be myself or be comfortable with others.
I went into university plagued with self-doubt, everything started to become more and more of a struggle. When university finished I thought it would be freedom, unshackled from the structure and routine of school. So, often in vain and feeble ways, I tried to fit in. I also got into drinking, not hardcore because I always had a very weak stomach and was always quite the anxious type so alcohol and my stomach didn’t always shake hands comfortably.
That being said I did form some good relationships, some friendships with people who are still my closest friends.
I continued to amble in life, with no clear sense of direction or purpose, getting up in the morning became harder and harder, in fact the more I lived a life crippled with doubt, fear and incessant worry I became worn down, everything took effort, and more effort, yet other people seemingly breezed through these situations easily.
I became more and more disenchanted with life, everyone and everything these beliefs just confirmed my suspicion that indeed there was something seriously wrong with me and the world.I began to hate and fear social situations. Just the sound of a crowd or party would send me deep into fear territory. As my depression deepened so did my anxiety. I frequently had panic attacks and breathing difficulty and would be aware of a frequent racing heart and inability to slow down rapid thoughts.
I aimed to try and do something what I loved writing and shape a career out of journalism. Even though I had the odd moment of success deep down I knew it would never last and the darkness would win and pervade.
But it was hard. I had erected a mask just to keep me going. It was not that I was strategically or manipulating situations for self-gain. If anything it was just to show that I was not defeated by life. I thought no one would really understand or know really what I was going through and even if they did they would ultimately reject me. I felt ugly inside and out.
My self talk began to condemn be loudly. It was almost as if there was an accuser inside me tormenting me and calling me a failure. At work I used to go into the toilet frequently and hid, frequently chastising myself. The voice of self-condemnation was deafening and incessant.
What were my university marks like? Average. Just like school. I always knew there was latent talent wanting to come out, but I sabotaged everything. I wouldn’t study, I would not put in legitimate hard work. I became really uncomfortable in all social settings, including classrooms. All different environments appeared to reinforce my ‘aloneness,’ aloofness, disconnectedness. I just couldn’t pay attention and learn and most of the time conscious thought was devoted to how self-conscious and perennially uncomfortable I felt in my own skin and talking with others.
My posture worsened accordingly. The mind may try many techniques to hide the emotional and psychological pain but the pain goes somewhere and it was beginning to be manifested through the body as the body often reflects the mind.Dull aches and pains continued to grow and my growing awareness of them continued to heighten and become enveloping and obsessive.
I didn’t know what I wanted to do work wise so I floated through some sales roles without much direction and purpose. I generally was slipping mentally. I found it harder and harder to wake up in the morning, it was as if I became more and more leaden, weighed down and oppressed by my own harshness against myself and the growing difficulty of managing everyday life.