Tag: depression

Who Invited You? (A Note About Unwanted Depression/Anxiety)

I am not having the best night due to reasons I’d rather not discuss.  (Ya know, cause I like to stay relatively elusive when posting personal struggles publicly on the internet).

As I’ve written before, depression isn’t always present but it is persistent.  I have my good days, (sometimes lots of them in a row!) but the bad days somehow always show up.  Depression is like that one relative whose invite to the party you always “lose” but they manage to show up anyway with a sidekick you like even less (AKA Anxiety).

Recently, a friend and fellow blogger posted a Buzzfeed Article about what it is to suffer from both anxiety and depression (Hey, that sounds familiar!).  She then followed up with her own piece about what it is to have a panic disorder.  She encouraged fellow sufferers to discuss and share in the comments (and while I will also post this there), I wanted to write a blog in response to both of these posts and remind her, and others like us, that we are not alone.

If you would like to read Kacey’s original blog- please click here.

The Buzzfeed article that I mentioned earlier, entitled Here’s What No One Tells You About Having Both Depression And Anxiety, is in essence just a list of symptoms to which all sufferers can immediately relate.  It always makes me wonder if there are people out there who DON’T feel these things.  If so, I envy them…just a tad (tad means a lot, right?).

In seriousness though, I wonder if this list is relatable.  If you’ve never been in the throes of depression and anxiety, can you understand?  Can you empathize?

In the event that you didn’t read through either of the aforementioned links (because I probably wouldn’t have either), I’ve included a few points that most resonated with me.  Depression & Anxiety Are:

“3. It’s feeling more tired the less you move, but your heart racing at the thought of taking the first step.”

This is one of the hardest things to combat when I am in a period of depression.  The desire to sleep and the need to get work done are in a state of constant battle.  I hate to say it but, sleep wins most of the time. Sleep means escaping emotions and the pain that comes with them if only for a little while.

“8.  It’s fearing every day that your partner will get fed up and leave, but your anxiety whispering in your ear that they deserve better and should.”

SO MUCH YES HERE.  My inner monologue when in a relationship is almost always “Please leave me and save yourself the trouble.” Actually, I’ve probably said that out loud before on numerous occasions.  

“17. It’s coping mechanisms and escapism, because when you’re not trying to hide from one part of your brain, you’re hiding from the other.”

Escapism- YES.  I need to avoid triggers that will upset me and often times that means avoiding (escaping) people and/or situations that will cause me pain.  

*Masochism and anxiety do not go hand in hand.

My anxiety manifests itself in rather obnoxious ways.  During a panic attack:

  1. My body will start to overheat (think hot flash x 10).
  2. I start to shake (so severely that my muscles begin to tense and I will be more sore than if I had spent 8 hours at the gym).
  3. I get nauseous, (which makes me even more anxious and so I cry).
  4. I cry a lot.

It’s not the end of the world but in that moment (and sometimes that moment can last hours), it sure as hell feels like it.

And my depression?  Well, like I mentioned before- it’s a lot of wanting to sleep.  It is fixating on how worthless I am and fearing that I will never amount to anything.

Sometimes, the depression and anxiety overlap.  Sometimes, they don’t.

But guys, guess what!  There is a light at the end of the tunnel!  I am NOT worthless.  I have already amounted to a lot and will continue to do so.  These annoying, unwanted house guests never stay forever.  They most certainly overstay their welcome, but eventually, I get to kick them to the curb and it is always a glorious moment of triumph.  So if I look at it that way, I get to have lots of extra triumphs in my life in addition to all of my non-depression related successes (because when I lay them all out there, I am pretty successful).

I AM FULL OF ALL THE TRIUMPHZ.

AND SO ARE YOU!

You will have bad days.  We all do (even those who don’t suffer from depression), but they won’t last forever.  Cliche as it may be, the sun WILL come up tomorrow (you can bet your bottom dollar).  I am not telling you that it will be easy.  It won’t be.  I am telling you that it is possible and I implore you to seek help if you need it.  There is NO shame in asking for help.  (A lot of people see it as a sign of strength and bravery.)

Talking about mental illness helps us shed the stigma.  So talk about it.  Surround yourself with people who support you and if you feel like you don’t have anyone- feel free to reach out.  Comment on my blog, comment on my Facebook- message me, whatever it is.  We can have a nice talk about it. 🙂

* * * * * *

Borrowed From the Aforementioned Article:

To learn more about depression and anxiety, check out the resources at the National Institute of Mental Health here and here.

If you are dealing with thoughts of suicide, you can speak to someone immediately here or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which you can reach at 1-800-273-8255.

If you want to speak with someone anonymously, go here for additional help.

 

My Depression Has A Name (Bob, his name is Bob)

The hardest part about committing to publishing one blog per day, aside from the laziness factor, is coming up with a topic about which to write.

Luckily, I came across this comic this morning and it inspired me to share my own story.  As a writer, I would like to force myself to be more vulnerable.  Even though it’s just me and my 2 friends reading this blog, it’s a start.

I consider myself an artist (and if you consider artists to only create visual works then let’s just call me “artsy” instead).  That being said, I think many, if not most, artists tend to deal with depression and/or anxiety throughout their lives.  It is a blessing and a curse.  It is what makes us so wonderfully passionate, introspective, and open minded.  We are constantly thinking, about EVERYTHING- from “Why is the sky blue?” to “If we could love each other half as much as we love ourselves, maybe the world wouldn’t be such a bad place” to “I wonder how many slices of cake I can have before people will judge me.”  We tend to care a lot because we are hyper aware of emotions, our own and those of others.

The downside is- WE ARE HYPER AWARE OF EMOTIONS.  This means that we are also highly susceptible to the highs and lows of our own feelings.  When we are happy, we are over the moon excited! When we’re in love, we are head over heels in love with you- that can’t-eat, can’t-sleep, reach-for-the-stars, over- the-fence, World Series kind of love (that brilliant metaphor was stolen from the Olsen Twins classic, “It Takes Two”).

And when we’re sad, we are miserable– often-times going to a very dark place, a place to which I would not banish my worst enemy. In my experience, having surrounded myself with a bounty of artsy friends, I have realized that we especially are prone to depression and anxiety.

Both of these mental illnesses have colored my outlook in life and they are immensely important to me.  I want to share my experience.  Who knows, maybe it will make someone else feel a little less alone.

First, I want to stop and take a moment to let you to know how painful it was to type the words, “mental illness.”  There is such a tremendous stigma attached to those words that even I still shutter at their mention.  The truth is, mental illness is no different than any other illness.

This is how it feels when I am told to “just snap out of it” or “just think about something happy” or “stop being so weak”:

mental health 2

Image taken from: What If People Treated Physical Illness Like Mental Illness?

Trust me, if I had figured out a way to flip the off switch on depression, I would have done so by now.  Instead, I continue to fight every day because it’s just not worth it to give up.  Giving up won’t help me and it won’t help those who love me.  I’m not going to lie, it’s not easy.  Some days are better than others.  In good times, MOST days are better than others.  Depression doesn’t have a constant hold on me.  I don’t want you to think that people struggling with this illness will be sad 24 hours a day, 365 days a year because that’s not the case.

Think of it this way, you are in a mine field of mosquitoes but you are armed with a circle of lit citronella candles- you’re safe and you will continue to be safe until one day the candles blow out.  You’re going to keep getting bitten until you can light the candles again.

I admit, I’m not the best at metaphors but I tried really hard on that one!  It makes sense in my head anyway.

You never know when that candle is going to blow out and it’s all we can do to make sure that we maintain our safety circle!

If you love someone with mental illness, you may not always understand what they are feeling and they don’t necessarily need you to.

We need you to be forgiving.  We know that it’s not easy being on the other end either.  It’s not easy to watch the ones you love, suffer.  It’s not easy to play the happy one all the time or tip toe on egg-shells.  We know.  We don’t want you to do that.  We just want you to love us despite our shortcomings.

To the friends (and boyfriends) who’ve helped me through my own struggles, thank you.  I know it wasn’t and isn’t easy but I am very grateful for you and your understanding.

On the bright side, I do feel that this illness gives me a bit more street cred as a “real artist.”  Now all I have to do is finish these screenplays…

crazy artist

From ‘Marbles: Mania, Depression, Michelangelo, and Me’ by Ellen Forney
Image found here: Suicide: Myths and Help-Seeking in the Creative Community

If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, anxiety, or mental illness please check out the resources at National Alliance on Mental Illness.  Try not to be ashamed or discouraged by society’s stigma.  I say try because I know that it’s not easy and even I am still coming to terms.  Please, seek help for yourself and those you love.

*You don’t have to be an “artist” to experience depression or anxiety.  That is not the intention of this post and is merely my personal experience.