Author Stories, Mental Health

Real Talk: Anxiety and Depression Pt. 2

Whew! After yesterdays post I had to mentally prepare for this one too. It’s always been super hard for me to open up about non pleasant things that go on in my day to day. It was a HUGE step to hit the publish button and when I did I freaked out but then oddly a wave of comfort hit me. Knowing my truth was out there was kind of a cool relief. Keeping things in for so long it was like a pressure that was released. I have so many more issues so hold on tight..the ride will be bumpy in future posts.

Yesterday I talked about having panic attacks for over 20 years. How they feel and what I do to try and work through them. Today I want to chat about it’s partner in crime..Depression.

My guess is my depression started way before the panic attacks decided to settle in. I can remember in High School having bouts of just absolute dread. Up until a few years ago, I was just chalking it up to being a teenage girl where everything was super dramatic and being depressed was “normal”. Well with all the talks and information out there now being focused on mental health I can pretty much say it was clinical for me and not just the hormones.

I grew up in a small town. But before settling in one spot during my High School years I moved around a lot with my mom. So building those lifelong friendships from kindergarten was never going to happen for me. When I finally landed where I would graduate my freshman year the bonds were already formed. I moved to a small town and my class size that I graduated with was 32 people. THRITY FREAKING TWO. Everyone knew everyone since birth. Their parents even all went to school together and stayed in this same small town. You could not even walk down our one stoplight town without someone saying something about so and so and who did what. Let’s just say if you were trying to be sneaky you had the whole town on watch and best believe your parents would find out before you even got home.

So my freshman year self was walking into bonds that had been formed by generations. Everyone was nice of course. I am from the Midwest..but I was always going to be the outsider. This was also a town that nobody really moved to. Everyone was trying to get out so coming in was a bit weird for everyone. I did my best to be active. I joined the cheerleading team, drama, and volunteered for prom committee and even ran for student council. Lost by 3 votes:) I actually tried to be active to make friends but to also find something to do after school. We lived 30 miles away from the small town on a lake. It was gorgeous but far away. My mom worked in town but did not get off work until 5pm so I always had to figure out what to do for 2 hours. I was not really invited to peoples homes since we were not super close. A lot of the time I just hung out by a tree and read a book (no cell phones to play on) if I didn’t have practice for anything. I also did not have a car so being dependent on others was horrible. Let’s also pile on the fact that one of the teachers of my school lived right next door to us so sometimes if my mom had a conflict I would get a ride to and from school from my teacher. That didn’t help much either in the way of being cool.

Being so isolated and far from “town” I didn’t get to do much in the ways of High School type things. No parties or just hanging out on the weekends. This is when I think I had my very first major depressive episode. The summer before my Sophomore year. I had my first year in a new town and school. I was building a bit of momentum in trying to be included. But that last day of school in the spring and the car ride home I felt an overly heavy sense of dread. No car and no place to be in town. I was worried that none of the semi-ish friends I made would even reach out or make plans. I was right. That whole summer I was home bound. Mom worked, but if I rode with her I would have to keep myself busy in town until she was done. Living on a lake in the summer was fun for the first few weeks but when your alone in the house and nobody to hang or share it with was a bit lonely. I ended up staying up most nights really late only so I could sleep away most of the day. Night time was easier since I felt if I could not see outside I wasn’t missing anything and if I slept all day then missing the sunshine would not make be feel so bad. This was a pattern all summer. Living in the dark basically. Nothing could get me excited enough to get out of bed. I had nothing to do and no where to go. Once Fall came around again it was like I started school all over again. Hearing about the fun summers everyone had. I think I actually made up trips we took just so I wouldn’t feel like such a loser.

Looking back now and knowing the signs I was extremely depressed and needed some sort of help. Back in the day though it wasn’t something we talked about. My mom and I were not super close so that was something I for sure wasn’t going to mention. When I moved out at 18 and went to school my life completely changed. New and exciting things. Friends and jobs and big cities. I was living my best life. Until I wasnt. More on that in other posts.

But that feeling of dread and sadness has always come and gone in my life. Most of the time it has been because of something actually happening. Some event most would say it’s ok to be sad. Its normal. Then other times I talk myself into being sad. The pity party comes out. Then I’m down for weeks. I am on medication that I take daily. two of them actually. One pill in the morning and another prescription I take at night. I was always the stereotype they talk about with anti-depressants, Once I started to feel better I would stop taking them and then 6 months later I’d start all over again. That’s been the cycle. I have actually been good and steady on them for 3 years now and I do feel better actually. I still have some days that are rough and they last longer than I would like but it’s an improvement than not taking them.

Last post I talked about things I do during my panic attacks but wanted to give you a few tips on what I do to try and boost my mood when all I want to do is eat everything in sight and sleep.

  1. I try and make myself get out of bed or the couch and go for a short walk. I makes deals with myself if I just get outside for 10 minutes for a walk I can watch more Netflix. Good thing is once I’m up and out there I usually stay out longer. Get your body moving and maybe the fresh air will do some good.
  2. mentioned this earlier but I have taken up knitting. It’s just something I do that I can watch tv or focus on it directly. It slows my brain down and it really is something I enjoy so it perks me up a bit.
  3. This one is new to me but I bought an adult coloring book and colored pencils. Bright colors and trying to be creative is a mood booster for me. Of course I had to get this one with an adult theme:) Fuck This Shit Swear Word Coloring Book: Geometric Mandala Designs – Adult Curse Words and Insults – Stress Relief and Relaxation for Women and Men – White Paper – Size 8.5×11

These are just a few I do but anything to really get moving will do. It’s ok to allow yourself to have a moment but when those moments turn into days and weeks then it’s time to try and understand it.

I’ve also been to therapy as well. It can be weird to talk about things to a complete stranger but once you find the right one and you are comfortable it’s ok. Just remember they are there to help and maybe even get you to think of things a different way and you can get a bit of clarity.

The one thing I do want to say is that please NEVER feel ashamed or embarrassed by how you feel. There are too many like me that have held it in for so long. You never have to feel you are alone. Reach out to a trusted family member or friend. Hell if you need to email me I will listen. I’m not embarressed to say I have call hotlines in the past. If you are having a rough time please call these guys…. https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ I’ve done it and they are great. You can even chat if that makes you a bit more comfortable. Just reach out and start talking.

That’s it for today and I mean it if you need an ear..please reach out to the hotline or someone you trust. YOU MATTER!

XOXO

Amy

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