As I wrote the title to this post, my heart started thumping a little faster than it was 3 seconds ago. My hands are clammy and I’m shaking like a leaf in gale force winds.
I’ve suffered from mental health issues for a while, and started treatment when I’d just turned 19 years old. Every single relationship in my life was being damaged because of my constant mood swings. I would cry on average 3 times a day, I was constantly angry or upset and had no drive or desire to do anything. The thought of living like that forever terrified me, so I got help.
I’m now 22 years old and last year I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder and depression. Sometimes my depression is more prominent than my anxiety, but they definitely go hand in hand for me. The feelings of anxiety cause me to feel depressed, and when I’m that low, I get anxiety while trying to pull myself out of it. Anxiety leaves me feeling uncomfortable in my own skin, like little bugs are crawling through my veins. I feel like a piece of rope is being pulled back and forth between my ears and my heart R A C E S. It feels like something terrible is going to happen, all-the-time. Once this panic has set in, it becomes unbearable to speak to people or sit with people because of how awkward and uncomfortable your body feels. I never want to leave the house, and when somebody speaks to me I get snappy and angry because I’m concentrating so hard on breathing and calming down and losing the rope from my ears that I can’t concentrate on somebody else, too. It’s hard trying to describe this to people when you’re in the throes of it, and afterwards they’re often too annoyed at you to understand – which makes sense. I don’t think I’d get it if I wasn’t experiencing it.
I’m not a doctor, so I don’t want to tell you what it is that causes anxiety, or why depression begins and doesn’t shift it’s ugly butt for a long time. I do, however, want to make it clear that it is HARD work to go through it, and when it begins to affect many different aspects of your life, it can make you miserable. For example, I avoid going into crowded areas like the plague, I try to stay away from noisy places, unless I’m totally calm. Even when Dan plays his shooty games on the X box and it’s up a bit too loud I start to feel anxious, but that’s just the way I am. If something bad happens to me, it literally is the end of the world. I’ll be down for days, completely unable to ‘cheer up’, as the case may be
I refuse to accept that this is how I’m going to be forever. I don’t want to have to spend days on end in a pit of misery and silence because there’s no milk for my tea. I don’t want to feel sad when somebody invites me to do something and I cannot physically get myself out of the door to do it. I want to feel good about myself, experience exciting things and have the life I’ve dreamed of, but it’s not always as simple as ‘go and get it’.
I’m slowly learning what my triggers are and how to overcome them, but it will take time and patience.
If somebody close to you has anxiety or depression or suffers with panic attacks, show them that you’re there for them and that you’ll support them through it. Don’t tell them to calm down or cheer up, and don’t try to make them join in with silly exercises. As much as we want it to work, it doesn’t.
My advice to those suffering? There are lots of people like you, reach out and grab help as soon as you can. I promise you won’t regret it.