As someone with anxiety and depression, you have to become very adept at explaining yourself. First there’s the medical definitions:
I have generalize anxiety disorder. I take an SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor,) and see my general physician and a registered counsellor to deal with it.
But then there is the more complicated matter of explaining to people how you feel. There are a lot of levels of anxiety and depression and how you explain them can drastically affect how people treat you. For example, if you just say you have anxiety or depression, or if you resort to clichés like ‘I’m feeling down’ or ‘I feel like I want to crawl out of my skin,’ people will nod sympathetically but never really understand what’s going on with you. This challenge forces me to be more creative with my language. For example, here are some explanations I have used:
I feel like a hundred angry black dogs are chasing me, even though we’re just sitting on this couch.
I feel like there are judgemental eyes on every person I see.
I had trouble making eye contact with myself in the mirror today.
I feel like all of my bones have little weights inside them that are stopping me from getting up.
These may seem bleak, but they effectively communicate my levels of panic, fear, shame and the physical symptoms that get all wrapped up in anxiety attacks. Plus, playing with words gives me a small measure of control over how I feel. I have also chosen a new favourite word for my depression:
Dictionary definition: a feeling of listlessness and dissatisfaction arising from a lack of occupation or excitement.
Also know as: boredom, tedium, listlessness, lethargy, lassitude, languor, weariness, enervation, More
malaise, dissatisfaction, melancholy, depression, world-weariness, Weltschmerz.
Check out poor Neville. This is my favourite page from the Gashlycrumb Tinies. Check it out for a thrilling, gory bedtime read!
Now all joking aside, describing anxiety and depression is a vital part of the diagnosis and in the moment, such colourful turns of phrase may take too long. When my anxiety is at its worst, my doctors and I use a ten point rating system.
1 = not anxious at all.
2-4 = a little bit anxious.
5 = starting to feel the beginning of the fight or flight response.
6 = experiencing symptoms that interrupt daily life.
7 = difficulty functioning.
8 = uncontrollable negative thoughts and feelings, lack of concentration and sleep.
9 = barely functioning.
10 = at home, crying on the floor, cannot get up.
This allows quick communication of where my brain is and what it’s doing. The key is communication! If you feel anxious or depressed, especially for long periods of time, tell someone! Best health to you.