It’s not like climbing a mountain

A lot of the time when I am trying to get through a really tough time with depression and anxiety I will describe it to someone as ‘like climbing a mountain.’ It’s one way to try and get across to someone else just how difficult and impossible surviving feels. Well, I’ve now climbed a mountain and I can tell you that suffering from depression and anxiety is nothing like it.

Two weeks ago I climbed to the peak of Jebel Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains. It is the highest peak in North Africa at over 4,000m. I was terrified about it from the moment I got to the airport to fly out to Morocco. However at the airport I met the other 9 people that would be going with me. Even though climbing the mountain made my lungs hurt and my legs so tired they shook, those people helped me every step of the way. When I was scared climbing down they showed me where it was safe to step and held my hand. When I wanted to give up they set the pace walking in front of me. When I was tired they told me I was doing a good job and that I could do it.

Anxiety and depression are different. They’re lonely. The worst days I have are when I am alone. A lot of people don’t understand that depression strips you of all your motivation, good and bad. This week has been tough as I have had no motivation. When I wake up I feel like I haven’t slept but I know I have to go to work. However the fear of getting fired, losing my income, and therefore my flat, doesn’t kick in. I feel nothing. There are also lots of things I really want to achieve, but there is this force holding me down and making me impotent. I know I’m not just being lazy because the guilt from not doing things is crippling.

When I go to see psychiatrists, psychologists and mental health nurses they often ask me what my ideal treatment would look like and up until now I haven’t really known what to tell them. Now though I really think the best support to keep me living my life as normally as possible would be the help of other people like on the mountian. When I can’t cope in the morning someone coming in and making me breakfast and a cup of tea and laying my clothes out would be amazingly useful. Someone telling me I’m doing really well just for taking the little steps of getting out of bed and brushing my teeth. Unfortunately I don’t think community care for mental health will have the investment to allow this kind of thing any time soon. Hopefully this might give some people an idea of how they can help friends or relatives who might be struggling.

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