Have you ever been to Charleston, South Carolina? If not, put it on your bucket list.
This weekend, I spent 4 beautiful days with several coworkers turned friends turned family. Being around these brilliant, loving people in such a calming and wonderful place filled my soul and gave me the energy to keep king on this semester after weeks of trouble and stress. Realizing how fortunate I am to have this army of support around me caused me to pause and reflect upon how rare this can be for someone struggling with depression or anxiety. Often, the support is there but our brains won’t allow us to accept it.
Mental illness is not rational. There are days where I catch myself stressing over whether or not I am too much of a burden on the people who love me, if I am deserving of such amazing friends, or if people just pretend to like me because they feel obligated to. I constantly fear the day that my best friend will push me away out of disgust or the day that my boyfriend will break up with me because he has realized that I (and my depression and anxiety) are truly too much to handle.
In the past, this has created many self-fulfilling prophecies. I believe that my depression and anxiety will become too much for others, thus I push them away before they have the chance to see the person behind the illness. I will ask over and over again “are you sure you still want to be with me?” My constant worrying and need for confirmation will come across as needy or insecure or just plain annoying. The relationship ends in heartbreak and again, I feel like I am not good enough or a burden or undeserving.
Being plague by these feelings of doubt and fear is far worse than any rejection I have ever experienced. The day that I realized that I could be loved and, better yet, deserved to be loved was the most liberating day of my life. Depression and anxiety is a part of me and therefore, often becomes a part of my relationships. However, it does not have to define them. Yes, I still ask my boyfriend if he is absolutely positive that he still wants to be with me on a weekly basis. Yes, the thoughts of self-doubt still pop up every time someone is short with me during a conversation. Yet instead of letting myself fall into the cycle of cataclysmic thinking, I pause and ask myself where these feelings are coming from. I remind myself that I am loved because I deserve love.
Love is the Achilles’ heel of depression and anxiety.