It’s been one year since I was officially diagnosed with Anxiety and Depression. It’s a little strange that it has been a year of doctors visits and therapy, the ups and downs and everything in between. This last year I’ve learned a lot about living with these. Here are a five stand out to me.
- It is not my fault. I didn’t do anything wrong, this is not some form of punishment. In the beginning I had a really hard time dealing with the fact that I was struggling so much, and I blamed myself for it. It felt like I had no hope in the world and I was to blame for my life being nothing. I blamed myself for not being able to be the friend I wanted to be for people, and I blamed myself for never having energy. I felt embarrassed to admit there were days I couldn’t get out of bed, or the times where I just had crying fits for no reason.
- You have friends. One of the tricks your brain will play on you is that you are so alone. Everyone I have talked to about this say the same thing, they feel like they have no one to go to, and they feel alone. This is not the case, but your brain believes it, and it forces you to live in this alternate reality where everyone hates you. I believed that I couldn’t talk to anyone, I stayed up and would cry and try to grasp to anything to bring me back to the real world. I actually started keeping photos of my friends and I on adventures around my room, that way when the depression or anxiety would kick in I had proof I wasn’t alone. For me, a lot of this happened after midnight, and so if I texted anyone I wouldn’t hear back until the morning. So late at night when you are panicking and no one is responding (because literally everyone is asleep), you feel like no one cares. Every single time I’ve sent one of those messages someone texts me as soon as they see it the next morning. In that moment though, it is so much easier to believe everyone is ignoring you and doesn’t care. Not to mention most people don’t know how to respond… I’m incredibly lucky that most of my friends do know, and my family read a lot into it. If you get a very generic message back, know that they want to help but they have no idea how to say anything to help you.
- Your late night thoughts do not define who you are. When you are sitting alone in your room at 2am crying because you feel ugly, unwanted, alone, the list of things you call yourself just goes on and on. You are curled up crying because you feel like you hate yourself, and you wish you could just disappear. These late night thoughts do not define who you are. They are not the real version of you. Your anxiety does not define who you are, even when it feels like it. The anxiety alternate reality, is not what you need to listen to, you are worth so much more than that. You deserve to love yourself, and for other people to love you, and they do.
- There are physical symptoms and that is okay. There are still days when I have to cancel plans, or stay in bed all day. There are days that I feel sick to my stomach from anxiety, and there are days it results in a headache. I get knots in my shoulders after I have had an anxiety attack or even just a day full of anxiety, and my neck and back will hurt from being so tense. The good news is, for everything I listed you can do something to help it. I use a diffuser in my room that has clergy sage in it that is relaxing to me. I turn it on high and do some deep breathing exercises. I also think it is okay to have a day where you stay in bed and rest, as long as that doesn’t turn into never getting up like it did for me in the beginning. I have a spiky roller ball that helps get the tension out of my muscles and that feels incredible. I think everyone is going to be a little different with what will help them, but those are some of the good ones I use, and hey, a hot bubble bath never hurts either.
- It doesn’t magically go away. Trust me friends, I thought it would. In fact I was absolutely counting on it going away after a few months of therapy and some doctors visits. I got so frustrated when it wasn’t going away, I didn’t expect to have to fight this long term. I didn’t know there wasn’t a magic potion that I could take and be okay, no really, I wanted that to be the thing that happened. I think I’m way stronger since I have to fight it still, and I’ve learned so much from it not magically going away. The thing is, this is part of who I am right now, and that is okay. When it gets bad, I know that it will be okay soon, because it’s been okay every single time so far, and this time isn’t an exception to it.
I’ve learned a lot in the last year about anxiety, depression, and myself. I’ve grown from this, and I know that I don’t need to resent it. I hope that reading this has helped you, no matter if you fight this, or if you know someone who does.