Living or Surviving: Depression & Anxiety

How many times have you heard the saying “life is what you make of it.” If you are a child living in an abusive home, a person from a war torn country, suffering from schizophrenia or an incurable disease, then is that a realistic mantra?

I do agree that there are certain things in our control but that is a small percentage in comparison to the rest of our lives which is us living to the fullest or surviving the unpredictable. There are people who struggle daily with trying to find a way to keep afloat, keep fighting or grasping for some stability. A single mother who left an abusive relationship, a husband helping his dying wife, a kid trying to figure out his/her way in an unfair world, and a young adult who feels completely abandon that he/she has pervasive suicidal thoughts with a plan.

The more I look outwards the more I see people surviving than living. A website on Facebook posted ‘How you hide your depression from the world in 16 different ways’ and the response to the post was overwhelming. The same recurs on a veterans page when a vet posts something about death or struggling. The responses are always incredible with so many others who are going through or have gone through that darkness. The point is there are so many people out there who struggle with making life how they would truly like it – peaceful – at peace in their minds, with people around them, with faith, and with almost every facet of their lives. However, there seem to be more people in survival mode than living life to the fullest.

Social media is unmasking so many people with functioning depression. They get up everyday and survive but quietly struggle with barely a glimpse of their issues presented to anyone. It’s not just depression but anxiety as well.  It is a misconception that most people feeling depressed and anxious symptoms are 24-7 reclusive. They are family, friends, coworkers and other we see everyday. They are not just giving up, giving in or waiting for life to be over. They are in a constant mental and emotional fight. Some days are winning days and other days they are taking major mental punches. Some days there are good solid things to hold on to and hope for and other days it’s like grasping at debris while drowning in the middle of the ocean.

My head is filled with so many people’s surviving stories whether from friends, family or patients. It’s the nature of being a listener versus a talker. It makes me wonder who among us does actually have peace. Those trying to survive live in their own world in which they believe that they are the only one. It is not true; it is never true. Trying to survive can look very different for each person because the functioning anxious and depressed person does not share their struggles. Who goes to work and share that her boyfriend just gut punched her last night? Who goes to family and share his loneliness? Who talks to good friends and shares his fears? Who honestly shares that s/he is having relationship problems? How many people feel comfortable and emotionally safe to be vulnerable and put their trust in people around them? Not many.

Life is not just about what we make of it. If people could just ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pray it away,’ then Christians (and other faith based people) would be the most content. The thing is life was not designed to be perfect. If you are a Christian, then you know the Bible talks about ongoing total peace happening in the next life. For those in the here and now, the survival mode is ongoing with one issue after another and for others, it is intermittent.

There are those out there who are living and enjoying life every single day. Some people were truly blessed with peace and prosperity in their lives. However, I know that for many people what we see on the outside is not always the true reflection of the struggle on the inside. In an ideal world, we would all be living life to the fullest but the reality is there are way too many just surviving.


2 thoughts on “Living or Surviving: Depression & Anxiety

  1. I have been in “survival-mode” for several years, but very few people know about my constant struggles with loneliness and lack of companionship. I also have huge trust-issues because my trust has been violated SO many times that I don’t know who I can trust anymore. My greatest fear for the last several years is that I will come to my fast-approaching “waning-years” with nobody to even care anything about me.

    I recently shared more with my brother than I have shared with anyone else, but I am still not sure that I can trust his reassurances. I think I can, and I hope I can, but I am still not sure that I won’t just be “put-out-to-pasture” and abandoned, because rejection and abandonment has been such a huge part of my life since I was quite young. I can only hope…


    1. Steve,
      It can be hard to get out of survival mode. Keeping things to ourselves is a protective mechanism but it also perpetuate the cycle.

      I had a friend said she is worried about me dying alone. I thought that was funny because if I am dead I have no more care about things in the world. My after thought was it would be better to be concerned about me while I am alive.

      Unfortunately, so many of us are in survival mode. My prayer is that as you share with your brother, that will help to change things for you.

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