‘We’ve made so much progress talking about depression, why isn’t the same true of anxiety?’ was published in Junkee on 16 December 2016.
I’ve had moderate to severe problems with anxiety for most of my adult life.
Most of my anxiety manifests around how I spend my time. Weekends are the worst—I spend the week looking forward to a stretch of time in which I can do all the things I think I need to get done, then suddenly it’s Sunday afternoon and I’m hating myself for not ticking any items off my endless to-do lists. Instead I’ve inevitably spent the weekend distracting myself, because it’s easier than acknowledging the crushing weight of my own expectations.
For similar reasons, I’m late to everything because I avoid getting ready until the last minute. Eventually I lie to my friends about when I’m going to arrive, and then lie again about why I’m late. I tell the first lie because I want to hold on to the illusion of a moment in which I am on top of things. I tell the second lie because I am so deeply ashamed of the reality that I am not.
I’ve been medicated for anxiety on and off, and I see a counsellor regularly. Both things have, at times, helped.
I don’t write this to torture myself (or, I hope, you) I do it because until recently I’d thought I was the only person who lived like this.
When the ABC ran a week of programming on mental health called ‘Mental As’ back in October, I looked for myself in the content and found nothing. There were plenty of personal accounts aired throughout the week, but most seemed to be stories of depression and suicide. When ‘mental health’ was talked about in general terms, again it seemed to be code for depression.
Read the full essay in Junkee.