The difference between stress and anxiety, though very small by definition, can make a world of difference.
I can physically feel the difference. Stress takes your breath away and makes you tear up, anxiety suffocates you, stabs you in the chest, and paralyzes you as tears stream down your cheeks.
I could be having the best time of my life with the people I love and out of nowhere I start trembling and feeling this overwhelming need to cry and the inability to breathe. It’s ruined every care-free moment I’ve ever had.
I’ve been very open with my struggle against depression, but anxiety has been a different demon for me to tackle. I didn’t want to share this aspect of my mental health before I completely understood it. I don’t — that is completely understand — but I do understand that I don’t have to. I don’t have to completely understand before I share it as part of my life.
I saw a Tumblr post earlier this week talking about what it’s like having both depression and anxiety, and I don’t think I’ve connected with anything more.
For me, anxiety is being motivated by the fear of failure, but depression is having no motivation. Anxiety is caring about everything, but depression is caring about nothing. Anxiety is having to need to be social and productive, but depression is having the need to stay in bed all day.
These two disorders don’t simply “cancel each other out.” It’s like I’m housing the greatest war since World War II. It’s like living every day with this overpowering sense of fear but not having enough energy to do something about it.
I’m constantly tired but even when there’s nothing to do, I have to be doing something.
I’m sharing this to reach out to all of the people in the same boat: those with depression or anxiety or both. You are not alone; there are people out there feeling the same exact way you feel. Don’t look around and think you’re the only one struggling to get through the day. It will be okay.
“Don’t look around; look up.” -Yoon Hwan Choi (General Conference, Spring 2017)