Journey to normal
Anxiety and depression can make no sense to people who don’t suffer from them. They are not the same thing as nervousness and sadness. They don’t affect the things you might assume they would affect. It is possible to have anxiety and to be quite happy doing things that might terrify people who don’t have anxiety.
I love being on air. I love interviewing and asking what some see as pointed or even rude questions. I love working under pressure. I am calmer in a crisis than I am at other times. My anxiety is not nerves.
Finding places of calm is important to me. Photography is my happy place. I can spend hours out with my camera and it feels like no time has passed at all. It’s mostly a solitary occupation for me but I’m happy chatting about it and spending time with other photographers. But it’s mostly devoid of people. I would love to do more street photography but I’m not there yet.
I don’t experience life like my friends do. It wasn’t until my friends started having children that I began to realise that their experiences were very different to mine. That they didn’t worry all the time. I was diagnosed with post-natal depression after my first child but I thought that diagnosis was wrong. I didn’t feel any different to how I had felt my whole life.
Very few people know I have anxiety and depression. By the time I figured out what was going on, the way people talked about mental health issues at that time made me pretty sure I didn’t want to tell anyone. I always felt like I was on the outside looking in at a club I could never join so I assumed another thing that made me ‘less’ would only make that feeling worse.
I’ve been on medication for 18 months now and dealing with psychologists for a bit longer. It’s changed my life. The anxiety isn’t completely gone but worries pass quickly, in seconds instead of hanging around for days. I lose the thread of my list of failures as soon as my brain starts scrolling through it. The thought that it would be better if I was no longer around is rare.
Would my life have been different if I’d been on medication from 16? Yes, of course. But we knew much less then than we know now. Now is better. Much better.
If you think you’re having a problem, get help. The help does help even though you may not think it does. There is lots of stuff you can try and it’s worth putting in the time to find a psychologist or counsellor who you like. You might see a few before you do but don’t give up. It would help if Medicare funded more than ten sessions, especially in the early days.
You can talk about it with people you know too. You don’t have to but you will find more people are like you than you think.
Life won’t suddenly become rainbows and unicorns even when the help is working. But there’s a good chance it will become normal. And normal is great.