Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of anxiety and depression.
I was completely unaware the day the parasite slipped into my head. The tiniest of intruders, stealthily latching on to my brain in the most undetectable way. And just as slyly it grew. It infiltrated every fold, every inch, of my mind. Latching on tighter and tighter with each passing day. It never did introduce itself. Only when others spotted its presence did we become acquainted. Its name was depression.
As that parasite grew, my mood quickly fell. The world became a dark place. Happiness was hard to come by. The things I used to love began to bring me no joy. It made me believe I was inadequate, a failure at everything I did. It told me everyone was better off without me. The world was a miserable place and I fell on rough times.
It continued to grow over time. Feeding off my despair, spreading ever further and forming the tightest bond within my brain.
People tried to help. Friends, family, counsellors, psychologists all tried their hardest. But no one could make me see this parasite that was inside of me. I thought I was feeling this way because of me - and I didn’t know how to change that. Fighting back only made me feel worse. It was easier to be in this dark state; it felt good.
Years passed. Another parasite, this one called anxiety, came into the picture. I went on medication for that. And then I noticed it.
No, this was not me. This was something else. What I came to conceptualise as a parasite. Something for me to fight against. I am competitive. I do not like to lose. And I was not going to lose to this thing.
That parasite and I shared feelings. It thrived off my despair, so it convinced me staying in that dark space was good. Likewise, it began to die when I fought back.
Those first few days of fighting were always excruciating. I used to give up. When I realised that was the pain of the parasite dying, I pushed through. I visualised that parasite dying and shrinking. Very quickly, I believed that is what the pain was and what I associated every time I felt it. As the parasite shrunk, I felt its pain less and less.
In time, that parasite has all but disappeared. My mood and happiness returned with it. Life seemed worthwhile again.
It took strength, help and courage to fight back. Just as important, though, was finding the analogy to conceptualise what I was fighting against. Something that worked for me. From that moment on, I began winning my battle.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to 'find help' - it's not weak to speak!