Editor’s note: Andrea provides a raw account of how she experienced depression that was mixed in with anxiety and agoraphobia. She wrote this piece to drive home the message that these illnesses affect the mind and aren’t easy to deal with. She has a message specifically to those in her shoes. She’s a fierce fighter and a survivor, and we’re proud of her. This is Andrea’s story.
I have been struggling with clinical depression, anxiety, stress and agoraphobia for two years now. I rarely leave home and find it difficult to interact with strangers and see no hope for myself in my future. This is my reality.
I worked as an English tutor at education companies in Asia but I stopped work altogether when my condition worsened. With a difficult eight-year romantic relationship, plus the constant struggle to cope with the corporate jungle, I now find myself standing at a crossroads, unable to see the way ahead.
Between 2014 and 2017, I have seen numerous counsellors, psychiatrists (many of whom simply laughed at me and dismissed my situation) as well as holistic therapies, medications to stop my brimming suicidal thoughts, hallucinations, delusions and negativity. Most were unhelpful. I also tried yoga, eating healthier, working in jobs for short periods of time, and getting plenty of bedrest at home.
Talking to similar people who had gone through an experience like mine made me feel better at times.
I experienced severe mood-swings, constant battles with exhaustion, forgetfulness, irritability, social awkwardness and an underlying angst and melancholy. It was hard to control my thoughts, behaviours and my moods. I would cry almost anywhere in public.
As the days passed, I withdrew further and further from my social circle. Just willing myself to get out of bed is considered a victory. The bonus was whenever I got through my three meals, housekeeping, and managed any effort to distract myself from negative thoughts.
There are days when I have suicidal thoughts. There are also days when I see glimpses of hope.
For those of you out there who are suffering like me, please know that you are not alone.
For those of you who are constantly battling these negative strongholds against yourself and your identity, where wave after wave of “I’m simply not good enough” smashes your mind like a tree against a rock, please understand that although it is so, so painful in the moment, I know how it feels. But trust me, this too shall pass.
You take a deep breath and you start again in that moment. So what if you can’t measure up to other people’s perfect lives?
So what if people desert you? What matters is that you never desert yourself.
What’s more important is that you grow stronger. While people are out there striving for their worldly pursuits, you know that you are a survivor because you are facing the biggest battle for your life! So when you put yourself down again and think you’re doing nothing with your time, when you start wishing that time could stand still or reverse itself, when you wonder if you did anything wrong to deserve your sickness—remember that you are dealing with the battle of your very own mind.
Eventually, you learn to let things go. Everyone is living a different life and a different battle and everyone works at their own pace. Unfortunately, in reality you cannot expect that the world will wait and understand your situation.
You will awaken one day and realize you have conquered mountains, that you have made it! The day will come when you look back at your past self and wonder ‘why did I ever feel like that?’
To all those out there who ever felt completely worthless, down, incompetent, or were made to feel this way, please know that you are loved, and even if you lose everything in your life, YOU ROCK. YOU REMAIN.
Andrea is an English tutor on a career break. Her hobbies include reading, yoga, singing, eating and cooking homemade meals. She aspires work as a freelance writer or pursue further studies in counseling, and hopes to work in the field of mental health. The featured image is of major significance to Andrea as it was a painting she made. She hangs it behind her bedroom door to remind her of how far she has come in her journey to recovery.