If the media, celebrities, reality TV and world politics tells us anything, it’s that there seems to be a lot of people in the public eye who appear to “love themselves”. Smiling at cameras, putting on performances and displaying great confidence in themselves in order to assure the public that all’s good and, in turn, we envy them. However, when we consider celebrities like the actor and comedian Robin Williams (who took his life back in 2014 due to his anxiety and depression), we realise that people can masquerade as happy and fun-loving but, in actual fact, the real story is very different.
My name is Dave, and I suffer from anxiety and depression. For me, it’s something I don’t fully understand. I like to think of myself as a happy, pleasant person – always ready with a joke or a good gesture for anyone I encounter with. However, positive interactions often result in me asking questions of myself – “why did you do that?”, “are you doing that because you want people to like you?”, “why are you pretending to be happy when you’re really miserable?” and much more.
This is just the beginning of self-doubt, which can manifest itself in me as a complete inability to rationalise. I sometimes feel that a having good job and being in a loving relationship can be easily destroyed just because of a misspelled word in a report or a lost item at home. I can find myself feeling completely unworthy of anything I possess, and terrified that I’m going to lose them when, in actual fact, this simply isn’t the truth, but this thought means I feel unable to seek any reassurance or discuss it because someone may justify my thoughts and fears by telling me I’m simply not good enough and I don’t think I’d be able to cope with it.
However, when I muster the courage to indeed bite the bullet and put it out there, the truth in the minds and eyes of those around me is very different. I’m reminded that I’m a valued, good-hearted husband, father and friend with a lot to offer. This is an amazing confidence boost and makes the demons go away for a while, but they can always return when I least expect them to.
Will I ever fully understand my anxiety? Only time will tell, but the key thing is that I WANT to understand; I want to talk about it and share my experiences and get it off my chest, so the weight of burden doesn’t feel as heavy. I also understand that, while reassurance from those around you may resolve the issue momentarily, it’s about having belief in yourself, and believing the genuine nature of comforting words and gestures.
If you experience any form of stress, anxiety or depression, PLEASE take the opportunity to talk to your friends and your family. Whilst I still suffer with anxiety and depression, I’ve finally come to the conclusion that it’s OK. I learned that I have the tools and a fantastic support network at my disposal at home, in my community and at work. Put your trust in people that know you and let them tell you that, whilst there will always be problems, there will always be solutions, and nothing is too much hassle for those that care about you. Even if your anxiety tries to tell you otherwise, remember that you are NEVER alone.