I once thought that asking for help meant I was a burden to everyone in my life. What kind of person was I to unload my anxieties and sadness onto the people I love most? What kind of person was I to put them through anguish and stress, secondhand sadness, and worry?
As I cry through the more unstable parts of recovery, the days where the world feels heavy and minutes pass slowly, I have often felt ashamed for being the way I am and functioning so poorly.
I have felt this persistent shame since I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety – for being someone who needs extra help, for not being “normal,” for being a financial burden to my parents, and an emotional one to everyone else.
On the days I would lie on the floor, staring at the ceiling, feeling empty and lonely, in a state of despair so palpable I questioned my existence, I would be uncharacteristically off the grid. I left texts unread and phone calls declined, putting myself in a hole I felt only I had the responsibility to crawl out of.
But throughout the years, I’ve learned that the people who love me are full of grace and patience. They want me to get better. They relentlessly check in on me, send me coffee money, make me laugh, and ask me what I need. They love me through my pain and through my joy. They understand that I cannot always be at 100% (no one can), and they love me regardless.
I do the same for them and I never stop to ponder whether they are burdens to me. My love for them capsizes their pain. When I realized this, I came to the conclusion that depression and anxiety are a ruthless presence, separate from who I am and from who my loved ones are. Unconditional love means loving someone through every high and every low, despite their struggles and illnesses that weigh them down.
Depression lies. It tells you that you are a burden when it’s the furthest thing from true. The people that really love you, that really care, will never believe this. You are so much more than the illness that takes and takes from you. They see that. Keep them close.
Our depression is heavy, but we cannot carry it on our own.
Photo Credit: Burak Fatsa / E+ via Getty Images
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