One thing for certain is that, no one has the same anxiety and/or depression. They can have their similarities, but everyone has a different experience. I think it is very important to bring awareness to this topic. I feel a good majority of the population doesn’t really understand these mental illnesses and how difficult and dangerous they are to deal with.
I have had off and on depressed for as long as I can remember. My depression has always lead me to suicidal thoughts and actions throughout my life. I can’t control it, it’s an involuntary reaction my brain has anytime something happens that is too stressful for me to handle, sometimes these stressors are irrational but it feels the same. Growing up I would hide in my room away from family, turn off my phone to ignore the world and completely isolate myself, I still do sometimes. I used to be very good at snapping out of my depression and fixing it on my own within a reasonable about of time. But when my anxiety added to the picture a little over a year ago, I became defenseless.
After a few weeks of fighting and struggling, I finally realized that what was going on was something I needed to get help with. So, I spoke to my doctor and was given a medication to help. It took me around nine months to agree to start taking it. Before I absolutely refused. I did not want medication, I wanted to do it on my own. After months of continuing to fight and struggle I decided I wasn’t able do it on my own but that was okay with me, I just wanted to get better. I started taking the medication and after a while it started helping, but it wasn’t doing good enough. After discussing with my doctor, he added more medication. I currently use three medications to help me control my anxiety and depression. Not everyone needs medication forever, some only need it long enough to get back on track. I highly encourage speaking with a doctor if you suffer from mental illnesses because it is worth it to try, even if you are like me and refuse medications, because you can always get advice on other things you can try to help you.
During the time I refused to take the medication I had quit school, quit multiple jobs and barely ever left the house. My anxiety didn’t let me do anything. There were days where I slept the entire day and didn’t even mean to. Days where I looked at the wall all day feeling lifeless. Days where I would try to leave for work and would cry because I couldn’t get myself out the door. Days I don’t even remember because if I am having a bad enough anxiety attack I feel like I can’t control my brain or my thoughts, so I have no clue what I am actually doing in that moment. Often after a major anxiety attack, I turn to hating myself and get depressed.
Depression to me feels like I am empty inside. I get very reserved and quiet. When I am depressed I often find myself looking off into space either not thinking about anything or thinking about everything. I definitely do not eat my feelings, when I am depressed I often starve myself to the point I can’t even walk without feeling faint. I could be having the best day then instantly be depressed for no reason at all. It’s as if my brain just pushes a little button and all my chemistry changes. Sometimes I will just burst into tears when I am depressed for no reason, wondering why I am like this and why I can’t get over it. It’s a very dark, cloudy and lonely feeling.
Anxiety for me comes out of nowhere and makes me feel like I need to scream as loud as I can to let everything out. It can be triggered by something as little as not being able to find clothes, messes, people, or just nothing at all. In my head I start to feel overwhelmed, suddenly everything is too much work and too stressful, even if I literally have nothing to do. If it gets bad enough I will start getting flustered and frustrated, sometimes leading to me not knowing what is going on anymore. My body feels different, it’s a very unexplainable discomfort, like a dull pain all over. I start to speed walk everywhere and rush everything. I’ll toss things around if I can’t find something. I sit on the ground rocking back and forth feeling like I am going to explode inside. I pull at my hair. Clench my jaw. Sob, not cry. The list goes on and on. I can’t help it. I can’t control it. And no, I cannot calm down. When I am having an anxiety attack I am not present. It is like someone else takes over my mind and body. Other times my anxiety is very faint that I am able to recognize it and control it, which is how I would like it to always be.
Everything I said is only a fraction of how my anxiety and depression feels to me. There is so much more to say about how it all came to be and how each experience is. But for today, I want to keep it semi-simple.
September 10-16 is National Suicide Prevention Week so I want to share some information with you about suicide that I found too unbelievable not to add to this post. Also, if you know anyone with suicidal thoughts or actions please take responsibility and help them in any way you can. If you yourself are having suicidal thoughts or actions please reach out to someone for help whether that is a doctor, family, friends or even the suicide hotline (1-800-273-8255) because your life does matter, you are important and you are loved.
Based off the statics done for 2015 by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) suicide was the 10th leading cause of death, a total of 44,193 lives. That costs $51 billion annually. Keep in mind, these are stats from 2015. The numbers have only gone up since then. On average 121 suicides happen a day. Men are 3.5x more likely to die by suicide, while women are 3x more likely to attempt it than men. Suicide was ranked as the third leading cause of death between the ages of 5-14, second between ages 15-24, fourth between ages 25-44 and eighth between ages 45-64. Between 5-14 year old kids the flu is marked number nine. That means these children are more likely to kill themselves than to catch the flu. And for ages 15-24 unintentional injuries was ranked as number one. To me that just seems crazy that aside from accidents, suicide was the leading cause of death for young adults in 2015. Utah was ranked number five on the list of highest suicide rates per state in 2015 and number one cause of death between the ages of 10-24. On average every fourteen hours someone commits suicide in Utah. Stopping at age 65 there are 15,742 years of potential life lost in Utah alone just from suicide.
Anxiety and depression are not emotions. They are not a joke. These are mental illnesses, diseases and disabilities (however you want to call it) that need to be diagnosed and treated. They take away from our quality of life just like other diseases do. It can be hereditary or environmental just like other diseases. Please always treat and help others because you have no clue what is going on inside their head or body. And I am sure you would want others to do the same for you.
With love, Lyss