Explaining anxiety and depression to someone who has never experienced it before or only watched it from afar is like trying to explain colors to a blind person. It’s impossible but you’ll try your best anyway, you’ll describe the sensation as best as anyone could but you’ll find yourself tongue tied and awkward. Your description will sound abstract and strange, you’ll throw in weird analogies and metaphors that don’t make sense. The person just won’t understand.
To be honest, it makes perfect sense. If someone has never seen colors before how can you make them understand what they look like?
If someone has never had anxiety and depression before how can you make them understand what it feels like?
Sure, I could try. I could explain how it’s like enclosing walls or a fist down my throat. Like a spotlight on me 24/7 where I stand before hundreds of judges, scoffing and laughing.
I could tell them it’s like drowning, water seeping into your lungs, nothing but the constant body of water around you. No sense of direction, water as cold as ice, freezing your blood. Or I could say it’s more like a bizarre blurry kind of feeling that attacks like a sharp knife in the back. You never see it coming, trying to prepare yourself is useless. You cannot out run a predator when it's in your head.
I could tell them how much it hurts. Like swallowing a bunch of cottons balls. You feel like you’re suffocating, it’s dry and painful in the back of your throat, speaking is painful and just when you think you’ve gotten a couple of cotton balls down, you start to choke.
I could tell them it’s why I hate school so much. I could explain how the classroom feels like a prison, and the teachers are like wardens and how your classmates are more like prison mates.
I could tell them it’s why I don’t go out very often. Leaving the comfort of your home is like stepping out into a field of traps. Awkward conversations, judgmental girls, and embarrassing situations. Each one rigged at the ready. Why put myself on the line like that when I could wallow away in my room?
I could tell them it’s why I don’t talk much. Between fists down your throat and cotton balls in your mouth, speaking, let alone breathing, becomes quite the difficult task. It’s even more difficult when you are asked to lead a book discussion for your english class.
I could tell them it’s why I write so often. Enclosing my thoughts into binded little journals that I hide in the corners of my room. Satisfying short stories and passionate poetry that never sees the light of day. My writing has become one of my main sources of comfort.
I could tell them it’s why I listen to music more than I listen to people. I carry my phone and headphones with me wherever I go, Ed Sheeran, Cage The Elephant, Arctic Monkeys, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, The Beatles. Music is the perfect escape from reality and helps to ease tense nerves.
However, even all of this, even the enclosing walls and panel of judges and knife to the back and the cotton balls down your throat do not fully encompass what anxiety and depression is truly like, because no matter how hard you try, no matter how desperately you want them to understand, no matter how willing they are to learn, it is still, and will always be like explaining colors to a blind man.