Anxiety and Depression.
This is not who I am, this is not a description of my personality. This is not something I suffer from, and is not something that controls my life. Anymore, anyway. I’ve had depression and anxiety since I can remember. I was ashamed when it first took over my life. I was prescribed a medication when I was 11 that made me extremely violent. I was smart enough at such a young age to quit taking it. I was given Xanax for years, it was more of a quick fix for my parents. Even then, I knew this wouldn’t help me in the long run. From ages 15-21 I made a brave effort. Each day, I’d fight this battle myself. No help from doctors, little help from friends and family. They all did their best, but it’s just something too difficult to put on someone else’s shoulders.
I finally accepted the help I needed this past year. I was put on anti-depressants and it has made a world of a difference. I still fight with my anxiety and depression, but now I have a little more strength. Each time I come out of an attack I feel stronger. I used to feel weaker after my battles. In the past, these attacks have landed me in the hospital, in the arms of someone who cares, but more times than not, alone in my bed or my car.
For those of you who don’t know what an anxiety or panic attack is, this is what it’s like for me. It’s different for everyone.
It starts with feeling hot, faint, and the overwhelming feeling of someone grabbing my throat (feeling like I’m being choked). Then, comes the hyperventilating and the inability to stand or sit still. Sometimes, if I feel like there is no one I can trust, I get extremely claustrophobic. I cry uncontrollably, and my thoughts are battling each other. I try to calm myself down, but there’s this powerful feeling of defeat. I get scared of everything, and only can say a few select phrases. Usually, “help me,” “no one cares,” and, “I’m sorry.” This is where most of the confusion comes into play when dealing with someone watching me. The translation? Help me: comfort me, make me laugh. No one cares: whatever you’re doing is being perceived as an attack, I know you’re just freaked out and worried but please, change your approach. I’m sorry: I’m embarrassed, I know this is inconvenient for you, thank you for being here.
This is what someone who has suffered for a decade from an untreated mental illness looks like. Completely normal. On the inside, there’s a big heart. There is someone who cares deep down into her soul. Someone who, unfortunately takes everything to heart. I cry when my plans get canceled, I cry when I disappoint someone, I cry when I disappoint myself. I laugh when I burn my hand with a curling iron, I laugh when I spill coffee on myself, I turn my life stories into something worthy of a stage shared with a comedian. I overcome a new battle every day when I get out of bed. This is just part of what it’s like to share a life with anxiety and depression. At least, for me.
I’m posting this to encourage others who have a mental illness. I’m posting this to inspire those who don’t. Love one another, breathe and try to be compassionate. Some of us have never felt a “normal” day. Others, like me, have waited for decade to be truly happy. At this point in my life, I’m excited to see anxiety and depression less. I’m looking forward to enjoying a life full of making my health a priority, helping others, and adopting as many animals as I can! Please, remember one thing, it’s just a bad day… Not a bad life.
Note: this is not professional advice, please seek help from a doctor if fighting your own battles with mental illness. It is not something to be taken lightly.