Honest reflections about marriage and mission work when dealing with the anxiety and depression

  • Charlie Clayton

It's Exhausting

I just need to lie down for a little bit

Resources drained. Energies gone. Whatever has happened during the day so far is now beyond my coping mechanisms and I need rest. The adrenaline from the days interactions have been flowing around my body in excessive amounts, the sugar junking is now past its saturation point and the tiny escapes to 'go to the toilet', 'do some work' 'just check an email' are rapidly losing their impact. There is only one resolution left.


For many people this is a controversial but very tangible impact from anxiety and depression. On the outside, there has been very little external energy exerted throughout the day. You may have not even been out of bed very long. Maybe had to do a few chores, play with the kids, or have some conversations with your spouse. Nothing at all really. Which leads those around you to question why you are so tired.

But underneath and of course invisible to the outside world, your body has been working overtime, using the same mechanisms needed to run a fast race, do intensive short periods of exercise, increase brain function, and produce enough adrenaline to create enough EpiPens to last a life time.

And so, if you are in a relationship, you raise this tentatively with your spouse. "I just need to lie down for a bit." It is raised as a question, but really you are giving them limited choice. Allow you to sleep, or deal with you struggling to function fully for the rest of the day. Both options not preferable.

And you see in their eyes the battle between 'caring and understanding how you feel on a day in day out basis' and the 'the kids have needs, I have needs, the house is a mess, I haven't had a break in weeks, I could do with getting some things done, oh no how long is this nap going to be' thoughts.

Reluctantly they say yes with half a smile. "Maybe once they wake up they will have a lot more energy" they say to themselves. But both of you know that isn't true. You have both learnt that the nap is merely recovering from before and not storing energy for next - and any new energy will have to be pretended and fronted all over again for the remaining parts of the day.

And so you go to bed for a while. Feeling guilty underneath that you are leaving it all to the other person, but any thoughts of care overridden by the overwhelming need to cope and shut down for a short while, knowing that shortly you will be demanded of again. How long the energy lasts after this nap is anyone's guess, but lets hope its a good day where there is no need for a further shutdown.

I think it is this aspect of anxiety and depression that is the most difficult to handle. There is no outwardly physical illness, there is no injury, there has been no excessively late nights (well unless young children are involved - more on that to come) but most, if not every day, there is a need to check out, recharge, keep everyone away and have some space, regardless of the plans and purposes others may have had for the day. Plans that can be easily cancelled often fall victims and ones that can't be are managed but not engaged with; phone calls and messages ignored where possible.

I am sure when Abby begins blogging about her perspective this will be a key blog that she will refer to. It has had too much impact, has caused too many arguments and probably was one of the key ingredients in her physical breakdown still only just 7 months ago. It is a minefield to walk through, and I am not sure we have any easy answers, we just coped with it the best way we could, but ultimately continually asking Abby to deny her needs in order to meet mine (even though I wouldn't have seen it that way) took their toll and is not sustainable.

Thankfully, things are genuinely different now a days. The scare and realisation of the impact it was having on Abby's well being made me push deeper into my exploration of self more than ever before and, since discovering some key reasons for my cycles of coping (explored in later blogs), significant change has occurred in my alertness and ability to engage with life. I am no longer in coping mode, I am less exhausted, I am able to be mostly present, I can enjoy my relationships around me and the days ahead are opportunities rather than obstacles. I still need to be aware to to slip back into old memory patterns, but life feels very different now.

No amount of naps would have ever been enough to cure the exhaustion. After all it is purely a reactive, recovery measure to the turmoil inside. It was only when I was able to 'lie down for a bit' in my inner world, and help what was turbulent in me to become still and well, was my outer world able to rest too.

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