Why I’m glad you don’t understand my anxiety and depression

I wake up every morning and thank my lucky stars for your blissful ignorance. I’m glad you don’t realise how your tiny, insignificant comment lingers in my mind in the 4am gloom. I’m glad that you think I’m ‘angry’, ‘hysterical’, ‘rude’, ‘ungrateful’, ‘dramatic’, because if you knew, if you truly recognised in me something you’ve seen in yourself then that would mean you’ve been through it too. Because until you’ve been on the precipice yourself, staring into the void, you can’t understand. And all the while you don’t understand, I am grateful that you don’t. I am grateful that you never have to experience it. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

It’s like the end of The Italian Job, where the coach teeters over the edge. We all have those few people or situations which threaten to pull us over the edge. But we have hundreds more holding the rope that keeps us up.

When anxiety and depression takes hold, though, you begin to believe those people holding you up aren’t so strong. Every now and then, one of them says something that wounds your soul – a passing comment, something you wouldn’t normally bat an eyelid at – and you start to see them move. That whisper in your ear that tells you they mean it, that you’re a fool, that you deserve it. They don’t all drop the rope. But it begins to become less taut, less hands around it. The slack begins to show.

So I am ecstatic that you don’t understand. That you think I’m just this or that, that I’m a nuisance. Because while you don’t understand, you’re safe from the confines of your own mind.

And to those who do understand; I see you.

I see you in the averted gaze when someone mentions mental health.

I see you in the unanswered text messages and the excuses to stay at home.

I see you in the passionate campaign for our cause.

I see you in the silence between us.

I see you in the kindness you extend to me.

I see you in the never faltering reassurance you provide and need.

I see you in the overwhelming panic you feel.

I see you in the emptiness behind your eyes and the screams that never leave your lungs.

I see you.

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