Depression and anxiety – my story

For some reason, an old post of mine about anxiety has been getting a lot of hits in the last week or so. It’s funny because the post is simply about my own anxiety surrounding a job interview I had some time back. It’s prompted me to write more about my own story of depression and anxiety.

Because a year and a half ago or so, anxiety and depression were major parts of my life.

Depression is a savage beast. I’d struggled with it off and on in the past, small episodes. Nothing that I would characterize as out of the ordinary or needing treatment. I chalked it all up to being female and prone to hormonal shifts and whatnot.

When the big one came, I’m not even sure exactly when or why it started. Just suddenly, it was there, a huge, heavy wet blanket of darkness had descended down over my life. I found no joy in the things that I should. Everything was a burden. I stopped being able to keep up with housework. I didn’t live up to my commitment to being a mom. I escaped from my reality and how I was feeling in any way that I could.

It was when the “scary thoughts” started that I sought out help. I wasn’t getting any better on my own. I wasn’t able to do the things that I knew would help me — things like exercising and taking care of my physical self, addressing the issues behind my depression and working on good relationships with those closest to me. My doctor prescribed me medication.

I was against it at first. In my eyes, it meant I was weak, that I couldn’t do it on my own. I have since learned that depression, like other diseases, sometimes requires medication in order to get better. Would I be “weak” if I were an epileptic who took meds to stop seizures? Of course not.

For me, medication was no easy answer. I suffered through the side effects – dry mouth, sexual ‘issues’, intense nightmares…and the payoff was small. I tried several different medications without a ton of success. I realized that it really didn’t make me feel like taking care of myself any more, it just made me care a little bit less. For me, I figured out that medication wasn’t the magic answer to my problems. It was simply an aid to help me find the inner fortitude to do what I needed to do to make myself feel better. It wasn’t until I actually started making an honest effort that things started to improve.

And so we’re clear – I’m not knocking medication. I’m speaking only of my own personal experience with it. I realize that for some people it’s a very necessary component of managing depression.

My struggles with anxiety were probably the worst for me to deal with. Over a several month period I had three major anxiety attacks. The first one landed me at the hospital. It wasn’t properly diagnosed. The second one happened in front of CBG, not long after we’d gotten together, and was one of the “stikes against me” in his decision to end things between us. The third one resulted in me phoning some friends and a “mobile mental health crisis team”. The only positive thing that came of that was getting a proper diagnosis. “Anxiety attacks”. And not only that, but anxiety attacks in response to some very real issues that were going on in my life.

I can’t tell you how much it meant to have a mental health professional look me in the eye and tell me that these anxiety attacks were very valid responses to everything that I was experiencing in my life. It was a huge eye opener for me.

It was when the anxiety reached a point where I couldn’t sleep that my doctor gave me a temporary prescription to help me through a few weeks. I began working to learn how to cope with my anxiety, including getting rid of some of the sources of it. I went to acupuncture, which helped signficantly. I kept up with counselling, which helped so much more than I ever imagined it would. I did what I needed to do.

That’s not to say that I never have a bad day or two. I still have the occasional ‘dark day’ when it’s hard seeing the good parts of life. I still have anxious days when it’s hard coping. The difference is that I have the tools, knowledge and support to deal with them when they do come up….so they don’t turn into being more than a day or two here or there.

A lot of positives have come from everything that’s happened in the last couple of years of my life. I have found an inner strength that I’d always suspected was there, but never knew for sure. I know what I am capable of. I know how to take care of myself without using another person as a crutch. I am stronger, wiser and smarter. I have learned exactly who I am. And for all of these reasons, knowing what I know now, I would absolutely go through it all again.

4 Responses

  1. Hmmmm…. I can relate to this so well. Including find that the medical prescription route didn’t work for me. I also still have dark days and have to physically and emotionally pull myself up by my bootstraps!

    It is amazing, however, that when something like this occurs in your life, you learn more about yourself. In those lessons, I find myself more empowered and able to take on more than I ever expected before.

    Good for you! Very proud of where you’ve been and where you’re going.

  2. […] & Pregnancy – Overcoming Anxiety and Panic Attacks During Pregnancy | New Moms ForumDepression and anxiety – my story « Sunshine on My ShoulderWhat Is An Effectual Anxiety And Depression Alternative Health Remedy?Article directory » […]

  3. I’m going to forward this onto my best friend. She has been handed far too much to deal with as of late and she’s having anxiety attacks, and I think she’s depressed.

    I think it would help her to know that she’s not alone. I’m at a loss sometimes because I’ve never had a panic attack or depression so my method of dealing with issues is to just struggle through and keep going, and that’s not practical for her.

    Good post Sunshine, I think a lot of people have been there with you.

  4. Girl I can related to this on so many levels.

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