I remember sitting down with my friend at the beginning of 2016, opening up to her about my depression and anxiety. It scared me because I didn’t know where it came from, why I had it, and when it would go away. But as I sat with my friend, opening up about something that felt so out of my control, and explaining how it was so difficult to be dealing with something that no one could see, she made a statement that stuck with me: “When you get a cut, you bleed. People know you are hurt. They don’t have to look for the signs. But when your wound is on the inside, it’s different. You almost wish you could light up in purple when your depression and anxiety felt the strongest, so that people could know you weren’t faking it.”
Faking it. It was so hard to hear out loud, but so true. I was able to get out of bed every morning, work out, shower, put makeup on, nice clothes, smile to passersby, get my work done, cook dinner for my partner, have a night out with friends. On the outside, I didn’t look anxious or depressed at all. But no one knew that there were moments that I was staring at everyone else trying to simply mimic their comfort, ease, and happiness. They didn’t know all I saw was grey. They didn’t know it felt like I had a lead vest on. They didn’t understand that, in the middle of a conversation with someone, suddenly I’d feel overwhelmed and displaced, sweat dripping from my clenched palms, a burning heat accumulating at the nape of my neck, a tingling sensation in my feet, a weakness in my knees, and the uncontrollable feeling that at any second I was either going to scream or faint.
– Alexa Erickson