The worst part of dealing with depression and social anxiety, particularly when no-one knows you have it – trying to just get out of the damn house.
You don’t wake up delighted to greet the day and see what it has in store for you. You tend to lie there, eyes closed, putting off the inevitable for as long as possible.
The depression calls to you – ‘stay here, where it is safe, snuggle under this duvet, leave the blinds down and stay in the darkness with me’. It hugs you and holds you.
The thought of leaving the house brings on a feeling of absolute terror. You logically know that there is nothing really to fear out there, you don’t live in a war zone or troubled area. But your body does not.
The worst thing is not being able to pinpoint what it is you are afraid of. You can do the same thing hundreds of times and then bam, out of nowhere you are sweating, shaking, your legs are like jelly and you feel as if you are going to collapse.
You don’t even mind that so much because you learn to live with it, it’s more the worry that you will collapse in front of other people and the worry of what they will think of you. And even though that has never happened, you still worry that it might.
In order to get anything done you have to have a definite time to be somewhere, like work. Even with this you will still find yourself faffing and pottering around. You find a million non things to do before bolting out the door at the last possible moment.
This of course increases the panic in case you are late. ‘Get up earlier’, I hear people say, ‘give your self loads of time to get ready’. You have often been up for two, three or four hours before you need to and still find yourself leaving at the same time.
On other days, if you have nowhere specific to be or a place to go to that does not have an appointment time you will spend hours building up the courage to leave the house. We’re not talking about climbing Everest here, we’re talking about a five minute walk to the local shops to pick up a loaf of bread or carton of milk.
You can be up and dressed at nine am and not leave the house until three or four pm – in a rush to get there and back again – just to be able to say you left the house today. The only other way you can manage is if you have someone to go with you but, as an adult, how stupid does that sound? Can you please walk with me to the shops, to the doctors, to work?
You don’t ask because you don’t want anyone else’s judgement. You already get so angry with yourself for being so useless, you berate yourself daily for being so silly.
Could you imagine lying in your bed while someone screams and shouts at you to get up and get washed and dressed, could you imagine walking around your home while that someone follows you and continues to scream and shout at you to ‘suck it up, buttercup’ and just get out of the house.
Could you imagine putting on your coat, walking up to your own hall door and putting your hand on the handle only to whip it away as if it was on fire. Could you ever imagine, and I have done this, putting on your coat and sitting on the stairs – for hours if necessary, while you wait on a member of your family to come home and walk with you to shops or the post office or wherever it is you need to go.
Here’s the thing, I hold down a full time job with responsibilities. No one in my workplace knows that I have days where I have to go hide in the toilet while I try to breathe. Family don’t know that I haven’t left the house because I managed to make sure that I have everything in so I wouldn’t need to leave.
Getting out of the house is a major task each and every single day but unless they live with it others don’t notice just how hard it can be. If you managed to get up out of the bed today and you managed got washed and dressed, well done. Each day is a struggle and each day all any of us can do is our best.
If you also managed to get out of the damn house today then you are doing amazing.