Anxiety and depression are different demons for different people. Some people can get through their every day life without a worry and only struggle through the sporadic life stresses that come with work, family or love, and others find it overwhelming and consuming from the moment they wake up to the minute they get to sleep.
My depression was diagnosed as “severe” in 2014 and I was told I was suffering from Major Depressive Disorder, as I really struggled through life and at the time thought it was never going to get better and that my life was one big black hole that I was eventually going to be sucked into, never to return. Fortunately for me, I found a therapist who is incredible and I am in the furthest place away from where I was, at this point in time. On the other hand, unfortunately for me I still struggle daily with anxiety, and due to my high strung personality – this means obsessive thoughts and actions and being unable to take my mind off of something even if I really need to. This is very apparent at work when I start to feel stressed (not something that happens easily as I am as well seasoned retail gal), I start to obsessively clean and tidy the things around me, picking rubbish up off the floor, finger spacing racks and generally trying to make the space around me feel calm again. This could be remedied through medication, but I’ve weaned myself off my pills as they made me a zombie, I had no personality and I literally couldn’t laugh so I stopped taking them when it was safe to do so (always consult a therapist or doctor when taking yourself off medications!)
As aforementioned, these disorders can be different for everyone, but for those of you who are interested – or know someone who struggles, I have compiled a list of some things that anxiety and depression sufferers may go through in case you don’t actually know what having these disorders can mean.
- not wanting to go to work or school but obsessing over what bad things may happen if you don’t go
- not getting the score you wanted on a test and suddenly feeling like you can’t get anything right
- obsessively cleaning, or having obsessive thoughts about activities but not having the mental energy to actually do them
- over thinking every single move you make for fear of someone being upset or offended
- the fear of being alone, but pushing people away anyway because maintaining relationships whilst having those thoughts can be terrifying
- not knowing if people will genuinely understand if you reach out, or if you will just sounds crazy
- thinking that you’re being over dramatic, but at the same time knowing that you are definitely not okay
- being scared of your own thoughts and actions, because it’s like having two minds who are constantly arguing
This list speaks volumes to me because having anxiety and depression has actually shaped who I am today. I am a control freak, because not knowing whats going on makes my heart race and I have massive panic attacks even in situations such as which supermarket my friend is driving me to. I’ve had ‘friends’ in life that have told me I’m a controlling person and that they don’t want to be around me, but their shallow thinking and self-centered-ness has never led them to think that mental illness has a part to play in all this and that in order for me to control the thoughts in my head and the panic attacks I have to be in control of what I’m doing and where I’m going.
How I control my every day anxiety is I keep my personal space clean and calm, I make sure I spend a couple of hours doing what ever I want to do at night to unwind after work, I take extra care to remove the possibility of things going wrong such as making sure my phone has charge and that my car has petrol, as these things make me feel in control. I spend my days off either slobbing around the house or going shopping by myself because being alone in social situations is something I’m overcoming (YAY!) so it feels like a mini accomplishment to go to a busy mall alone and not have a freak out.
If you know someone with anxiety and depression, and you think it may be causing some of their behaviours, talking to them is the best thing you can do. Don’t ask too many questions, or be judgemental, and do not tell them to “cheer up” or “look at the positives!”. Let them describe to you how their feeling and try to be understanding because unless you’ve been through it, it doesn’t make much sense.
If you need help:
Lifeline – 0800 543 354 or (09) 5222 999 within Auckland
Depression Helpline – 0800 111 757 or free text 4202 (to talk to a trained counsellor about how you are feeling or to ask any questions)
Thanks for reading! xo