If you struggle with depression and/or anxiety, or know someone who does, you are probably familiar with a phenomenon which I call mini-breakdowns. They are periods of time when everything goes all wonky for the sufferers.
No, I highly doubt wonky is a medical term, but it does adequately describe the condition. These mini-breakdowns can last anywhere from a few hours to a few days. Anything longer than a week should be brought to the attention of a medical professional. Anyway, I digress.
I can look back at my life and identify times when I went all wonky, but didn’t realize I was being irrational. That’s the difficult part – seeing the irrationality of ones self. There were times I just couldn’t deal with the everyday ebbs and flows.For example, while a young twenty-something I fell into a routine that consisted of work and little else. One Friday, I arrived home and had barely relaxed when a friend called. He told me ‘the gang’ was going out and asked if I would join them. Most people would say either yes or no and go about their business. But for some reason the invitation blasted me into a full-blown anxiety attack.
The thought of going out, being in a crowd (even among a group of friends that I loved and trusted) made me go all wonky. I began to cry. My friend was at a loss. In his mind, it was a simple invitation to do something we had done many, many times before. Nothing to cry about. (I learned this when we later discussed the episode)
I was torn. I wanted to see my friends, but the thought of going out made me nervous. In the end, he suggested I join them another time. I gratefully agreed and stayed home that evening.
My reaction to the invitation was irrational. When someone who suffers from anxiety and depression falls into irrational patterns they don’t realize they are doing it. They go all wonky. Reality becomes skewed. Their wires have become crossed or shorted out. Their serotonin levels are low (nobody knows if low levels causes depression or if depression causes low levels).
Why am I bringing this up? Mainly because I want everyone to know that depression and anxiety are not conditions to be swept under the rug or to be ashamed of. Also, one of the characters in my WIP is mentally unstable. In fact, I can’t seem to write anything without a dark character pushing past boundaries into areas better left unexplored. They just can’t help themselves.
So, if you know someone struggling with a mental illness, reach out to them. Even the smallest signs of support can mean a great deal.