For many, living with anxiety and depression can be debilitating. Often, friends and family members don’t understand the extent to which living with a mental illness negatively impacts relationships. We asked the Anxiety and Depression Association of America community to share what we wish friends and family understood.
Here’s what they had to say:
1. “I can’t control my anxiety. It just doesn’t go away. I can’t just snap out of it.” – Elissa M.
2. “Don’t sit on the sidelines when an anxious loved one needs help. Just like soldiers help a fallen comrade in combat, friends need to get off their tails and ‘man the troops’ to assist that person in his/her time of need.” – Jerre D.
3. “I am not weak, it takes every ounce of strength to hold it together. I’m not anxious or depressed because I am weak. I didn’t choose it.” – Janelle C.
4. “Sometimes I just need to remove myself from everything and everyone. It’s not personal.” – Sue B.
5. “My anxiety and depression make it hard to do even the most basic things sometimes.” – Denise F.
6. “I wish specifically family and friends would understand that anxiety and depression are disorders of the brain. The brain is a human organ just like any other, and disorders of the brain are not a choice. These debilitating illnesses affect a person’s confidence and productivity. These disorders are not a reflection of someone’s intelligence, moral character or work ethic.” – Sonya P.
7. “It’s not bad behavior or bad parenting — my 7-year-old has overwhelming anxiety. What you may think is a tantrum is her really just struggling to walk through the door or complete something.” – Christina C.
8. “I wish I could control my mood swings. It’s not you, it’s me.” – Jessica J.
9. “Anxiety and depression are a part of me. I am not ashamed. If you don’t understand this illness imagine how hard it is for me to understand. Every day is a balancing act of anxiety vs. depression, although in this battle they both win. I don’t want sympathy, just a little empathy.” – Amber W.
10. “It’s not as easy to get out of it as people think. It tears you down.” – Bobbie M.
11. “While anxiety affects so much of my life, not everything I feel is due to my anxiety – sometimes I’m actually just a ‘normal person’ upset/angry. Please don’t dismiss the way I feel just because I have anxiety/depression.” – Stoni F.
12. “Understand I’m trying my hardest every day to fight the depression, but some days that depression cloud or monster wins the battle. I want to feel happy and not feel like a burden.” – Linda P.
13. “It invades every part of your life. Depression takes away the ability to enjoy things you used to be interested in and it actually drains you of energy, so much that you don’t want to go anywhere or do anything. Anxiety disorders can destroy a life.” – Leonard W.
14. “We aren’t weak or lazy, in fact it takes strength, courage and stamina to face the same demons every day.” – Frank C.