My Journey with Anxiety + Depression
How I Cope
I am starting a new series on the blog – “Self Care Sundays” … If you keep up with me at all, you know that I have been struggling a bit with parts of my life that aren’t always shared. You may also know that my main reason for creating this blog was because I suffered from depression and anxiety. Blogging quickly became my form of “medication”. The more I blogged/typed/wrote, the better I would feel. What am I sharing with you today? I am sharing with you my life struggles that led to being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression. It’s important for those who have also struggled and/or are still struggling, to know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
I can recall a couple of times in my life where my anxiety and depression were at an ALL TIME HIGH. I am about to get REAL and PERSONAL. If you aren’t into these kinds of posts, I understand, go ahead and skip over.
*Note, I am in no way trying to make anyone “feel bad for me” or think that I am trying to complain. I am simply, sharing my journey.
When I was younger life seemed so simple, from birth to the age of maybe 7-8. After that, my life began to become more complicated…
It started when I was about 9-10 years old. My father (whom I do love and we are great now) went through a terrible injury at work. This led to him needing to be prescribed – you guessed it – pain killers.
Pain killers are the root of all evil. I will never take them unless it’s a last resort. I watched my dad’s life change and become controlled by these so called “pain relievers”. However, these “pain killers” did the opposite, in fact, they brought more pain to my family than ever before.
I watched my parents fight, I watched my dad become controlled by these pills, I watched his moods shift, and I saw my family breaking apart at the seams right before my eyes. My dad was always so calm and happy, he’s now filled with rage and anger. I was young then, I didn’t know much. I would blame it on my parents, i’d blame my father. Little did I know just how awful these pills were. They are addictive, and they ruin lives.
I never wanted to be home. Home felt like pain, fear and negativity. Luckily, I had a best friend at the time who lived right down the street. We would hang out everyday. Her family was my family. That’s how it felt. I loved her parents. Her mom was always bringing us to places like the dairy farm or Papa Ginos. She always knew how to cook. She cooked me a unforgettable meals. I will never forget her hamburger helper that we had once a week. Did the thought of my second family getting ripped out of my life ever cross my mind? No. But it happened.
My second mom was ripped out of my life, and she was ripped out of my best friend’s life. On the eve of her 50th birthday, her heart stopped. I still remember the day clear. I heard the pain in my moms voice as she shared the news with me. It was awful. I have never experienced a death before. This was the first. We had a surprise party planned for her the next day and everything. I was holding the card I had made her tight as my mom held me. She passed without even knowing about it. Not only was this hard for me, but imagine the pain my best friend is feeling. She hid it well though. I knew she was hurting, but she never let a soul know.
I was only 10 years old. All I could do was be there for my friend, console her and love her during such a difficult time. Each night I feared that I would lose my mom too. It didn’t make sense to me, how some one so kind, warm hearted, and full of joy could just lose their life. It wasn’t fair.
About a week or two later I recieved a phone call from my friend and she told me she had to move. Her dad was sending her to Florida to live with her aunt and uncle while he took care of things at home. He told her not to worry because he would be moving down shortly after. But this was a lie. He was sick. He was depressed because he just lost his soul mate, his other half. So, he drank the pain away, and his life was cut short too.
Don’t you see?! Depression and anxiety is REAL. It’s not made up. It takes over all those affected. It makes us upset, sad, and sometimes we just don’t want to feel it anymore. So we turn to things that make us numb.
I was devastated. My best friend’s father lost his life too, my parents are divorcing, and my best friend is moving across the country. At 10 years old. I can’t control my emotions. I don’t even know the emotions i’m feeling, all I know is they hurt, and I hurt. I don’t want to feel this anymore. I was young then, but now I knew what depression felt like.
I’ll be honest with you, it was tough as hell. Most nights I would have anxiety attacks and my mother needed to calm me down. I constantly feared losing my mom and dad. I constantly feared death. And I missed my best friend more than ever. Anxiety became part of my daily life. The attacks hit me like a pile of bricks. I could barely control my breathing, uncontrollable sobs, and shaky hands. For months I was in and out of therapy every other day, and became diagnosed with an anxiety disorder and depression. Now I had to learn how to control it.
Years went by and things got a little bit better, but my father of course still struggling. There was a point in my life where my dad and I didn’t talk. In fact he felt like a stranger. This was difficult for me because I was always envious of the father/daughter relationships my friends had. I felt as if my dad didn’t love me.
My mom and I were okay, and she finally found someone who made her happy. That’s when we moved out of my childhood home and into a home with this guy. Man – this guy was a real jerk. I mean it’s not often that you can get along with a step mom or dad, and the thought of this guy being the person to “replace” my dad was horrifying. I couldn’t stand him. Eventually, he couldn’t stand me either. Things got rocky and he quickly kicked us out of the home.
At this point I was about 13-14 years old. My mom, brother and I were homeless. Luckily, we had friends and family who let us stay with them. We went back and forth from a friend’s house and then my aunts house before we finally found a place to live.
During this time, depression and anxiety was still there, making me unmotivated to do anything, especially school. I was a freshman in high school when I needed to get pulled from school and become home schooled because my depression was so bad.
My home schooling experience was an unpleasant one, I actually felt more distant than ever from my friends and I never got any school work done. This didn’t help my depression at all, it actually made it much worse. Being home schooled caused me to stay back and repeat my freshman year of high school. (YAY ME).
My Sophomore year of highschool my mom met a new guy who she cared for, and we ended up moving to his town. I can still remember my first day at my new school. I sat at lunch alone as tears rolled down my eyes (embarrassing). I felt as if everyone was staring at me, laughing. Oh the high school years were not easy. And of course, I still hadn’t talked much with my dad. All the sh*t that high schoolers go through, yup it sucked.
I reached my breaking point in high school, told my guidance counselor that I didn’t want to live anymore. She was afraid, my mom was afraid. There was even a time when my mom and I were fighting and I actually moved out and moved in with a friend. (My mom and I are great now too though.)
I know my anxiety and depression wasn’t easy on my mom either. I admit there were times when I was a raging teenager who never controlled her emotions. My mom was a tough single parent. She worked her a** off to make ends meet for us. She always made sure my brother and I had food on the table and a roof over our heads. It’s true, you don’t realize how hard working and strong your mom is until your older. She’s my best friend now.
Fast forward to my senior year and GUESS WHAT – I GRADUATED! I finally did it and I got the hell out of my high school. After my graduation I slowly made amends with my dad. He was finally off all the medications that destroyed our family. It was hard at first, we were more like strangers. He missed a lot of the important parts of my life like; getting my license, sending me off to prom, the first days of high school, watching me graduate, and all of my teen drama. But I forgive him. We have moved on and past all of it. This was a huge stress reliever.
Now I am off to college, a place that I don’t really want to be at in the first place. Why? Well, because I am only 18 years old, making a decision that will affect my future. I’m too young. I didn’t know what I wanted at this time of my life. I wanted a lot of things, but college wasn’t one of them. Debt wasn’t one of them either. But the voices all said – GO. My family, my friends, my teachers, they all told me the only way to succeed is to go to college. So I went.
My experience was AWFUL. My roommates made my experience miserable. I didn’t have fun. I did not enjoy any of my classes. Still, was unsure of what I truly wanted to do with my life. SO GUESS WHAT… I dropped out of college. Yes, a college drop out. GO ME. I am not ashamed.
Always make yourself happy. If you aren’t happy – change it.
The anxiety of having perfect grades in classes that made me miserable was gone. The stress of college was gone.
I dropped out and worked full time, got a place of my own, paid bills, struggled getting by, BUT made ends meet. Anxiety, depression, and more because I felt as if I was going no where. Although, here I am paying my own bills while most of my friends still lived at home. I don’t know why I was so hard on myself… I was achieving more than most people my age. But I was financially strapped. I watched my friends go out and have a good time, while I had to stay home because I could barely afford my rent. It was tough, and I was jealous.
Now what do I do for a living to be able to afford to live on my own? I serve. Let me tell you something… Serving is NOT a fun job. It’s actually a miserable job. It makes me beyond miserable, but I truly had no other choice. It paid my bills (most days) and luckily I LOVE my co workers.
The thing about serving that most people don’t know is, as a server I only get paid 3$ an hour … I rely on my tips to pay my bills. If someone decides to not tip me, it really sucks. Don’t get me wrong, most of the time I do make great money through tips. There were many days however, where I would leave and truly ask myself, “how the hell am I going to do this.”
Not only do I have to rely on others to pay my bills, but I had to also deal with the negative attitudes of customers yelling at me over things I couldn’t control. Like when I get yelled at because a burger isn’t cooked right, or when a coupon is expired and it’s “my fault” that they can’t get 5$ off their meal. There have even been times when customers have scolded me over pickles! Serving really shows you the true, disgraceful side of people.
All in all it’s not a steady job but every other job I applied to told me “Sorry…you don’t have enough experience.” Oh man, I became so fed up and depressed. I knew I needed to make a change. I was tired of letting depression and anxiety be a huge part of my life. I needed to better my future and I knew the only way to do so was to go after what REALLY makes me happy. SO I DID….
Now here I am, on this blog, typing this long story that maybe most of you won’t make it to the end of. BUT, writing makes me happy, inspiring others is what I am striving to do, telling others to go after what makes them happy is important to me. I want others who have come from a place of struggle, to know that happiness is out there if you go after it.
There was no one telling me what to do to be happy. I found my passion on my own and most people didn’t understand it, “Blogging?” they’d say with an eye roll. “You don’t know that it will make you a steady income, go back to school.” That’s all i’d hear…
Maybe blogging won’t make me a steady income, but my determination will. Determination to succeed, to prove all of them wrong, and the dedication to BE HAPPY, to get rid of my anxiety and depression. Guess what, i’m doing it! I’m becoming happier every day! I’m doing what I love and I finally figured it all out!
Do I still have my terrible days and spurts of anxiety? Absolutely, it’s stuck with me. But can I control it a lot better? YES.
What was the point of all of this? It wasn’t to make you feel bad for me, or to tell you “woe is me”. It was to share my journey with anxiety and depression, and to let you know YOU ARE NOT ALONE, and that it WILL get better. Yes, sometimes when it rains it pours, but each day can be the start of your sunny days if you let it be.
The key to dealing with the hard times is to find out what truly makes you happy. Once you do; take it, run with it, and don’t look back.
20 Ways to Manage Anxiety & Depression
- Start your day with a positive thought.
- Talk to those who do support you, and walk away from those who don’t.
- Give yourself a break.
- Set aside a day to yourself, to relax, refresh, and reflect.
- Practice self care – bubble baths, face masks, mani/pedis, a cup of your favorite coffee.
- Read, write, and repeat.
- Surround yourself with positive people.
- Declutter the negativity.
- Aroma therapy – fill your space with scents that help de stress. (Lavender, Jasmine, Bergamot, Sandalwood, Pine, Geranium Rose, Peppermint)
- Practice breathing techniques.
- Turn every negative thought into a positive thought.
- Go after what makes you happy.
- Start living for you, stop living for everyone else.
- Get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.
- Have a morning routine.
- Practice journaling.
- Drink chamomile or peppermint tea.
- Exercise / Yoga
- Listen to calming music.