Anxiety and depression. Hello old friend, I did not miss you. Are you dealing with mental health issues right now? New, continued, or resurfacing? I have been treating for anxiety, depression, and OCD since May 2019. I’m not sure when it all developed or if I’ve always been dealing with it. I just thought it was my normal and that everyone felt on edge, easily rattled, and upset all the time but just presented it better than I did. Fast forward to present time and COVID19, homeschooling preschoolers, a husband who works full time from our bedroom, social distancing, shelter in place, friends losing their jobs, businesses closing etc. I feel like those feelings I have learned to deal with are coming back to haunt me!
I like to write about what I know and in turn maybe help someone who feels alone in their personal struggles. If you have never considered yourself to have anxiety or depression I am here to debunk some common myths on what this diagnosis can look like. I am no expert, but this is what I have learned through my own battle with mental health.
Stigmas of depression I worked past:
- Crying all day
- Not getting out of bed
- Acting/feeling suicidal
- You can snap out of it if you try
- It is always caused by some trauma
- Only women can get depressed
What depression can be like:
- Lack of desire to seek conversation
- Wanting to stay home
- Lack of motivation to do daily tasks
- Perceived laziness
- Moments of “normalcy” sprinkled with moments of sadness, disinterest, anger etc.
- Feeling like you have to put on a mask to “be yourself”
- Over/under eating
- Feeling inadequate or incapable
- A normal person, who doesn’t share feelings outwardly but has all these feelings inside
- Being sad, upset, mad, or lonely and sometimes there isn’t a tangible reason
Stigmas of anxiety I dealt with:
- Over reactive
- Worrying all the time
- Someone who needs constant reassurance
- You can snap out of it
- Only induced by stress or trauma
What anxiety can be like:
- Feeling like you can’t take a deep breath
- Feeling like an elephant is sitting on your chest
- Stressing over doing things you’d do normally
- Having a panic attack or floor you moments over simple situations
- Not being able to move on to the next task without making sure a certain situation is settled
- Thinking about scenarios constantly
- Sleeplessness/ insomnia
- Feeling like anything can trigger you
- Not sharing feelings so that your family doesn’t give you more anxiety by trying to help
- Feeling worried, scared, overwhelmed, nervous, or upset and sometimes there isn’t a tangible reason
Perception is close to the truth and these are some of the signs but definitely not all of them. Both anxiety and depression are very intricate diagnosis that present themselves differently in everyone. A good indication my psychologist once told me was, that if the way you are feeling is stopping you from being productive or enjoying things in your daily life, then that is when you need to seek help.
I know that I’m feeling a lot right now, even though I’m on an antidepressant and trying to take time for myself during these weird times. I even ordered CBD oil to take as an additional support, but I can’t shake the feelings I’m having. It got me thinking about all of us around the world. We are all locked in our homes, feeling helpless and fearful over the COVID pandemic. You too may be triggered right now and it’s ok to seek help. Whether it’s in the form of counseling, psychology, medication, exercise, meditation, yoga, herbal care etc, you need to find what works for you. If you feel like you are “out of character” or have many more “trigger” moments then I hope you take the time to find out how to protect your mental health today and every day.
The most ironic thing about being anxious or depressed is that in order to seek help you have to reach out of your comfort zone. I know it took me MONTHS to finally make a call to see a psychologist and it took many flooring panic attacks and maybe even YEARS of not being my “happiest” self. There are many different ways to seek help and I am just going to list what I’ve learned below:
- Reach out to someone you know that has dealt with this. Talking to someone who understands mental health will help you try the next steps. I know talking to a good friend of mine about these feelings helped me realize they weren’t weird and that it was totally normal to need more help that just trying it on my own. She told me how she felt and what she did and I finally felt less alone.
- Find a psychologist, counselor, psychiatrist, or even social worker. This takes time but, even meeting with one person is a step in the right direction. You may not talk to them every week, or maybe you will, but you should talk to someone to help you decipher your feelings.
- Meet with your general practitioner and go over your symptoms. Sometimes issues can be hormonal or be caused by another imbalance. They can also start you on antidepressants or whatever it is that you may need.
- Try an herbal solution like CBD oil or even cannabis in states that allow it. I used CBD before I seeked help. It definitely helped me with my anxiety but didn’t help with depression.
- Have open and honest conversations with the ones you love. Even if it has to be written or via email. Explain how you feel, why you feel it, and then how they can help without causing more stress on you. You will need someone you can trust to say “I am not ok” and they get what you mean. I know I have called my husband a couple of times saying “I am not ok, I don’t feel good” and he knows that I am at my breaking point.
- Give it time. You will not get better over night. It may take a lot of counseling, medication trials, herbal trials, combination of things, etc to find what it is you need to be your “healthiest”. I know for me the medication took about a month to fully set in, and even then we had to up my dosage. I did counseling for about a month and continued taking CBD until I ran out.
- Try to be more active, sometimes this helps, sometimes it doesn’t. I wasn’t able to become active until my antidepressants settled into my system. There was no part of me that wanted to be outside or in a gym. Once I felt better, being active added even more happiness into my life.
- Study Ayurveda or Enneagram to better understand yourself and the way you react to things. I learned a lot about my personality and how I respond to others and them to me. Being self aware is always important.
- Don’t feel bad about putting yourself first. This was one of the most difficult changes for me. I always wanted to please my friends or even be the one to strike up a conversation with a stranger. At my lowest point it felt so difficult for me to do these things. I realized it was OK to just be quiet, or not go out of my way to see a friend on her time. It was when I put my needs first, that I was able to start the path to healing.
- Give yourself grace. You won’t always feel the best, it won’t always be easy. Once you realize that the way you feel isn’t “healthy” then heading toward good mental health is your only goal. However, there is no time limit. Not a race, but a journey.
I have wanted to talk about my own depression and anxiety for a long time, but never had the guts to put it out there in public. Me, the extrovert, social butterfly, deals with anxiety and depression. How embarassing! Well, no it’s not. It is what it is, and I am thankful that I was able to find things that have helped me stay on a healthy path. I hope that if you feel that I’ve touched on something you are experiencing, that you take time to ask for help. The times we are in are putting stress on all of us, and this may affect the way we feel. Please if you need anything, and dont feel like you can talk to anyone you know. Reach out to me. I would gladly be your listening ear, sounding board, or just good old friend.
Take care friends, we are all in this together!