I Made a New Friend: A Story of Depression and Anxiety

Young adult in red dress with hair pulled back sits somberly in chair with ghostly twin reaching out toward herI made a new friend.

I didn’t want to meet her. I wanted to pretend she wasn’t there, but she just wouldn’t go away. She was always with me, everywhere I went. I ignored her for months, but eventually I couldn’t ignore her any longer. So I caved.

She didn’t look anything like I thought she would. She looked normal; she looked just like me. I thought she’d be scary. I thought she’d have dark eyes and a heavy presence, that she’d be overwhelming, but she wasn’t. She was slightly darker, but otherwise almost just like me. But maybe that’s because she has been a part of me for so long now.

Our Mutual Friend

My new friend and I have a friend in common: anxiety. Anxiety and I have been friends for some time now. Anxiety stands in front of me in social situations, making it harder for people to see me. She blocks out the good parts of me and scream and yells so no one can hear me. In short, she silences me. I used to hate her, but now I’ve grown used to her and accepted her presence. She makes my life so much more difficult, yet we remain close.

Sometimes I get the better of her. When I’m feeling stronger than her, I’m able to fight her off and break through her shield. No one knows how hard that is, how much energy it takes. I can’t be social for too long, because I grow weak and she takes over again. But at least I try.

Thankfully, the more I’m around a person, the weaker she gets. It’s harder for them to see her and easier for them to see me. I like that she gets weaker the more time I spend with a person, but she doesn’t ever go away. She loves to make me second-guess myself and mess with my thoughts. I wish she’d give me a break. But instead she decided to bring another person into this: my new friend, depression.

Depression is a tricky friend–completely invisible to most other people. It seems only I can see her. She hides behind me, but she’s always hanging on. Some days she walks behind me, matching me step for step. On those days she lets me smile. She lets me love. She lets me laugh. I could almost forget she was there, if it weren’t for her hand resting on my shoulder, reminding me she’s still there.

Depression is a tricky friend–completely invisible to most other people. It seems only I can see her. She hides behind me, but she’s always hanging on. Some days she walks behind me, matching me step for step.

On other days she’s not so nice. She clings to my leg like a child gone limp, and I drag her along with every step I take. Those days I can’t smile, or laugh, or love. I can barely walk. And those are just the days. During the nights, and the moments I’m alone, she often gets the best of me. She crawls into my lap, flings her arms around my neck, and rests her head on my shoulder, trapping me. I need to make dinner, do the dishes and laundry, and … But no. I can’t get up. She won’t let me. So I sit and wait, hoping maybe she’ll fall asleep so I can pry her off me and get something done. But if I try and shift her off, she wakes up, so I remain still. I’m thankful most mornings I’m able to get out of bed before she notices, but I never know what her mood will be like, how it will change throughout the day.

What really surprised me about my new friend was how angry she makes me. It almost feels like she cut my fuse as short as she could and randomly lights it for fun. I think she enjoys my anger because it makes me more like her. When I’m angry, she’s able to feel closer to me—but I don’t want to be any closer to her.

While the anger is a curse, it was also a blessing. The anger helped me because it made my friend real and visible, instead of just an imaginary friend in my head. Anger saved me from her, because it made someone ask me about her, if she was there. I knew then I couldn’t ignore her any longer. I had to accept her, no matter how mad, or embarrassed, or broken accepting her presence made me feel. She was there, and she was visible, and she was real.

But just by accepting her, by acknowledging her existence, I felt a little bit of her move away from me. It was just the slightest movement, but it represented something major. It gave me hope that I can learn to control her.

Here to Stay?

I’ve recently accepted this new friend isn’t going anywhere either. She’s here to stay. I have to find her weaknesses, now, but she’s so new I’m sure it will take a long time.

The doctor gave me a small pill. I am unsure of how this pill will affect her, but she’s supposed to shrink when I take it. She’s supposed to let go, take a step back, and let me walk alone. Even with this pill, I don’t think she’ll ever leave me. I think she and Anxiety will still follow me everywhere I go, waiting for the chance to latch back on.

But maybe, just maybe, with this little pill, with my continuing to talk about my friends and share their existence with others, I’ll become strong enough to keep them at bay.

Nicole Kyler, Share Your Story authorNicole, recently diagnosed with anxiety and depression, wanted to share her experience to help others living with these conditions who may not realize what they are experiencing. Depression caught her by surprise, and she wants other people to know it may come in many forms and does not look the same for everyone. 

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  • Jamilla

    Jamilla

    September 29th, 2017 at 7:36 AM

    What a great story that you have to tell, and it makes so much sense to me- I can very much relate to that experience! I wish that we all had the courage that you have had sharing with us, and hopefully can give someone else the push that they need to seek out treatment for themselves.

  • AbbieA

    AbbieA

    September 29th, 2017 at 11:35 AM

    When you begin to look at all of the different parts of yourself and think of the ways that it can all coexist instead of banging up against one another, you learn and you grow. When you are in a constant battle within your own self there is no room for growth, only stagnation as you are battling something that will never be won. Instead, it is much nicer to see these things as being worth the compromise and bringing them all together into a formation that you can live with and try to understand, and hopefully one day, even come to appreciate.

  • Marta

    Marta

    September 30th, 2017 at 8:33 AM

    Thank you very much, Nicolle, for sharing your experiences. I have felt very identified. I live with anxiety and depression since I can remember and it´s very hard. Your life is much mor complicated. But I admire you because you call anxiety and depression your friends and I think it´s a great way to manage them. I´m still fighting with them and it´s very complicated for me to accept them. You inspire me to try to do it. Thanks a lot!!

  • Mazza

    Mazza

    September 30th, 2017 at 1:12 PM

    Great post AbbieA

  • Timothy

    Timothy

    October 2nd, 2017 at 2:04 PM

    I too live with both anxiety and depression and you do feel like why can’t others understand the things that I am going through and feeling?
    I don’t want to have to wear a sign on my forehead telling everyone what is going on with me but at the same time for some things to make sense it almost feels like I have to do just that!
    I’m not using these things as an excuse, but they do lead to a lot of questionable for other people behavior choices and sometimes much of that feels like it is way beyond my control.

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