Want to know how I handle Depression & Anxiety?
This post is going to be a long one, so grab some snacks and a drink or two and get reading! Depression and anxiety have been something I’ve been dealing with since I was about 15/16 years old. Sometimes I think it was the worst thing to ever happen to me, other times I consider it a blessing in disguise. It’s hard to tell when you’re in a depressive episode, but a lot of the time I feel like it’s done me some good. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s not the same way for everyone, but I’m only speaking from my own experience.
Flashback to my 15/16 year old self
I still remember the day that I was ‘diagnosed’ with depression & anxiety. I don’t necessarily like that word, because while yes, it may technically be a disease/illness, not many people treat it as such. They treat it as an excuse.
Finding a reason for why I was feeling so low and anxious constantly was a relief. But at the same time, all I could think of was why? Why me? It’s pathetic, but I really thought someone was out to get me. I couldn’t figure out what I had done to deserve this. But what I know now is that I didn’t do anything to deserve this. It just happened.. and that’s how life works.
I feel as though I can’t really tell you how I handle depression and anxiety, unless I give you the full run down of what I’ve had to go through with it. Suicide attempts and all..
My First Therapist
I’ve been in therapy since I was first diagnosed. My first therapist was what I would consider ‘ridiculous’. She didn’t offer any solutions, or anything such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. She just sat and listed with a judgmental look on her face. It was painful. She was sympathetic, but not helpful. I stopped therapy for a while. And then, I tried to commit suicide for the second time. It was awful. I still remember the scratching against my throat as I was throwing up the pills that I had so desperately tried to swallow just moments before. But as soon as I did, I instantly regretted it. It was like I wanted to feel something, ANYTHING, other than the numbness that I felt. I was broken and I just wanted to feel something. But that scratching feeling against my already raw throat was not what I wanted.
My Second Therapist
After this, I saw my second therapist. And my last. She is incredible at her job. We’ve worked so hard together to find solutions that will help me. The main factor that helped was Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I understand that therapy isn’t for everyone, just like medication isn’t for everyone. I’m not on medication for depression and anxiety, and I don’t think I will ever go on medication for it again. Therapy has helped me to the point where I can actually pin point what the anxiety stemmed from. It’s helped me realise that the way I react when I’m upset is a complete indication to the incident that caused my anxiety and it’s truly fascinating. One of the main things I have learnt from my therapist is that when I’m upset, I need to try and see my situation from an outside view. For example, I try to imagine that I am someone else, watching myself going through the same thing. It helps me to think a little bit more rationally. The one thing that I haven’t been able to get a complete hold on is controlling the panic attacks that come along with anxiety. I try to practice breathing exercises, but sometimes my mind just takes over and I can’t think straight.
So, what do I actually do to handle depression and anxiety?
- Write in a journal – I write as soon as I wake up and before I go to bed. I truly think it’s helped me get a handle on my emotions.
- Meditation – I use the app called Pacifica and it’s incredible. I specifically use the Falling Asleep meditation because I struggle to fall asleep initially.
- Allow myself to cry when I need to – I literally spent the other day just crying when I wasn’t at work. I was having a horrible day because all I wanted was to see my partner which just isn’t possible, so I felt sorry for myself and cried. I let it all out.
- Breathing exercises – I do this when I feel like I’m starting to get anxious. It helps to slow down the anxious feelings for a little bit.
- Exercise – this is my FAVOURITE way to feel better. Obviously exercise releases endorphins which are essentially the ‘happy chemicals’ so it’s probably the fastest way to feel better! I try to go to the gym at least three times a week, usually in the morning. It helps to start my day off on the right note.
Why do I think depression and anxiety are blessings in disguise?
While I would never wish mental illness on ANYBODY, I believe it has made me a stronger person. I’ve learnt to accept that these things just happen sometimes, and there’s no point in feeling sorry for yourself because it just prolongs the suffering that you’re already feeling. I truly think that being diagnosed with depression and anxiety has shown me what I am truly capable of and what I can handle.