A while ago, Anna wrote about the people who help her name depression, saying, "naming it helps to make it bearable and manageable for me." This is so true; it's so easy to start thinking that everything you're struggling with is just you, that you're the problem, not a mental illness. It's such a relief to remember that the hard things you're dealing with have a cause.
I recently experienced this relief when one of my Facebook friends shared this series of comics about anxiety and depression by Gemma Correll. It was perfect timing; as I've mentioned, the last few months have brought a lot of change. It's been good change, but change nonetheless, which is very stressful. Understandably, my depression and anxiety have been more intense as a result, but you would be amazed at how quickly I forget this and get overwhelmed by the fact that I'm feeling down. Reading these comics that illustrate the thought processes and experiences of anxiety and depression helped me remember why that was and to not be so hard on myself.
Another interesting thing happened when I read these comics: Dave happened to be sitting next to me and read them, too, and quietly said, "Wow." I was a little surprised that his reaction was more serious, that he wasn't laughing with me. But then I realized that it made perfect sense because Dave doesn't struggle with anxiety or depression; the comics were a little more sad than funny to him because they show how hard it is for me. It's similar to how I feel as a non-parent when parents share their horror stories about poop. To them, it's funny, because they've been there and survived. To me, it's terrifying, because I haven't experienced it and don't know how I would deal with it.
All this to say, Dave's reaction reminded me that most people don't deal with this stuff. While this can provoke envy, it also helps me to be more kind to myself and not compare myself to others. For example, I've felt bad because Dave hasn't struggled in the same ways I have with the transition to living in Minnesota, even though it's really more of a change for him than it is for me. Hearing his reaction reminded me that it makes perfect sense that he's handling it better, because, oh yeah, he doesn't struggle with depression and anxiety. Shocking!
So, I'm grateful that comics like Correll's exist, along with the people in my life like Dave, to help me name my depression and anxiety and remember that I'm not alone. Maybe my New Year's resolution should be to read them every day. Either way, I know they're there when I need them.