I’ve talked about anxiety a lot on this blog. It features prominently in the name of this blog (‘The Way of the Worrier’?) in fact. I have generalized anxiety disorder. I’m more open about this online, ironically, then I am in real life. I am trying to slowly change that, but it’s a process.
What I haven’t been as transparent about on this blog is that, for the past little over a year, I have also been having episodes of depression. I haven’t been told any diagnosis, only that I’ve had “depressive episodes” multiple times in the last year. I’m not sure at what point multiple depressive episodes becomes depression. (I’m sure the DSM-V has an answer for me, but that’s not the point of this post.) At some point last spring, I wrote a post where I explained an extended period of absence from blogging. I talked about being a perfectionist and being plagued by comparison-itis and imposter-syndrome, but I didn’t talk about having a depressive episode during that absence.
Why have I been less forthcoming about this than about my anxiety?
Well first of all, I hadn’t really experienced depression when I first started this blog.
And then, when I had my first episode, I was certain it was a one-and-done kind of thing
And then, even when I’d had a second episode, and a third, I kept it mostly off the blog.
Of course, part of my lack of blogging about depression is due to the nature of the beast itself–when I’m depressed, the last thing I want to do it write about it. I want to lay on my couch and stare at the ceiling and think about it. Or, better still, sleep.
But another big piece of me not writing about depression, even when I’m through an episode, is that it feels way more taboo to me than anxiety does.
I know tons of people with some degree or some type of anxiety. By my senior year of college, more of my friends were on anxiety meds than weren’t. Were some of them also dealing with depression? Maybe, but I wouldn’t know because they didn’t talk about it, and neither did I.
I’m at a point in my mental health where depression feels more prominent than anxiety. Or at least, my depressive symptoms have a way of dampening my anxious ones. Sure, I might be majorly stressed out about my career prospects and deciding what I want to do with my life, but depression is there to tell me that it doesn’t matter because nothing matters. Also, sleep is a great way to make anxieties go away (temporarily).
It might just be me and my own warped perceptions and neuroses, and even some of my own subconscious biases, but anxiety seems to be more socially acceptable than depression. I know that it’s more broadly socially acceptable than bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, but I think the same is true of depression.
Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that anxiety is associated with type-A, go-getter, high-achieving types. Meanwhile, depression seems mopey, pathetic, lazy. Anxiety is perceived as being caused by high-pressure situations or a jam-packed schedule; depression is perceived as being self-induced by an inability to deal with life.
Of course, none of this is true. In fact, anxiety and depression often affect the same people. Almost half of people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.