Some people shut themselves away and close off when they have depression and anxiety. I am personally fairly guilty of this.
It might appear that I have friends, I talk to my friends from school almost daily via a group chat and I have my husband, children and family. However, that doesn’t mean that they all know how I am doing mentally. Some of the people close to me can sense when I pull away and shut down, others can’t.
I can’t even count the amount of friendships and relationships I have allowed to break down and fade away over the years.
I struggle to maintain communication with pretty much everyone. If I feel like I need to talk, I feel like what I have to say is pretty, pointless and better left unsaid. Then slowly I start to feel lonely, isolated and I like I have noone to talk to when I need to them the most.
We need a village to get through life, we need people to guide and support us on our journey. At first everything feels easier, more manageable when you have less people to deal with, less emotions, triggers and stressors but in reality, all we do is shut ourselves down and become nothing but a shell. We become numb, indifferent, irrelevant and it just fuels the cycle of depression, Humans have a pack mentality, we were not designed for a life of solitude.
Taking those first few steps to building that support network though, its difficult. It comes down to the ‘fight or flight’ theory and opening ourselves up to people, asking for support, makes us feel vulnerable and naturally we shy away from that. However, if we open ourselves up to that vulnerability and we fight for our sanity, we become stronger, our pack grows and we grow with it.
It is small steps, I cannot deny that. Whether it be sitting down and just admitting to your partner that you need help. I had quite a frank conversation with Dan recently, we were sat watching the TV and I just turned to him and said ‘I need to talk for a minute, I don’t want you to say anything, I don’t want you to interrupt or pull faces or do anything, I just need you to sit there and listen for a minute’. To my surprise he followed my instructions, I said all I needed to say and then he just looked at me and said ‘I know, I was just waiting for you to be ready to let me in’ and just like that, he has supported me and helped me on my journey.
Sometimes we need to set boundaries to feel secure, which is what I did there before opening up to Dan. It can be hard, it will be scary and you will probably overthink what you’re going to say and play it out in your head a million different ways with the gazillion different possible outcomes.
But when you do it, when you talk and you open yourself up to the ones that you love, you will find a never ending supply of love and support, which is what we all need in life, not just when we’re struggling.