Today’s post is by Becky from the brilliant blog “Not Just Depressed – A Guide to Calmer Living”. I really wanted to hear from her about living with depression AND anxiety, as I’ve never suffered from depression and am curious about what it’s like to live with the two together. Most importantly though, I wanted to hear from someone who has beaten anxiety.
As I’ve mentioned in all of my early posts on this blog, so many people don’t seem to realise that anxiety CAN be eradicated from your life. Becky is another example and proves yet again that if you make the choice to get rid of it and then take ACTION, it doesn’t need to be a part of your life. Yeah that’s right, it’s not just me saying this! Over to you Becky……..
Let’s start in the middle because who knows when all this actually began! I lay on my bed due to crippling stomach ache, yet again. I became breathless as usual and waited for it to pass. As the doctors said there was nothing physically wrong and I had now learnt after 2 years to endure the pain until it went, but this time it didn’t. The breathlessness became unbearable, my heartbeat seemed irregular and I felt like I was dying. After explaining this bit to my doctor he said the stomach pains had been linked to underlying physiological trauma which is why they always said I was fine.
I tried to shout for help as I lay there shaking but couldn’t get my words out. My husband found me and I managed to tell him “I need an ambulance, I can’t breathe.” He recognised that obviously I could breathe or I wouldn’t be telling him this (and had suspected I wasn’t quite myself recently) so he did probably the best thing. He phoned my mum! He held the phone to my ear and my mum asked what was wrong. I only managed “I’m poorly.” She asked me the question that was when I realised what was actually happening. She asked whether I was feeling poorly or sad. I burst into tears. “I’m just not right!”
For the last few months I’d felt very drained, tired, hated my job, wanted to be alone more than usual, became easily confused, struggled with sleep, lost my appetite and often cried on my drive to and from work. The three of us decided that I would go to my doctors and speak about this. I was told that I had depression and that I had probably had a panic attack. Later on I was told I had depression and anxiety. (Anxiety attacks and panic attacks are a completely different kettle of fish.) But I have had quite a few panic attacks as well as living with anxiety for a short amount of time. So it’s all doom and gloom and then life was over for me, right? Hell no!
I was very physically and mentally ill for quite a few months and it was probably the most awful time of my life a part from bereavement. Bereavement is the worst physical pain I have ever been in and something that for me had to be lived through not ignored or gotten rid of. But depression and anxiety became very useful to me and I’m now even slightly grateful I had them. Within 4 months of my mental break down I had started my blog within 6 months I had started a new job, within 7 months I debuted my first burlesque act, within 10 months I was medication free and over the withdrawal stage, I had made new friends, been to new places, attended new clubs and enjoyed events. All this whilst coping (and at times not really coping) with the physical and mental grips of anxiety and depression.
It only took 2/3 months for me to be sick of the feeling, the pains, the illness, the side effects, the tablets, the ridiculous comments and decide that I was going to find a silver lining in all this and kick mental illnesses butt! I decided I was still going to try things that felt scary, I decided that when I felt anxious to recognise whether it was for a good reason or a chemical imbalance and react to it appropriately. I knew I didn’t want to stop being with my friends and meeting new people, I didn’t want my marriage to become a struggle, I was still me and not defined by this temporary persona. I was going to respect my body and mind and do things to better my daily life. I wasn’t going to hope it went away, ignore it or rely on others. I was going to find positives: start a blog to help myself and others, learn about the mind and mental illness, learn more about other people and their emotional reactions and think about what I wanted from life. It wasn’t easy but it was very doable.
Life now is a few anxious moments “did I lock the door?” “is the cooker still on?” “what if something bad happens?” but this is not anxiety as a mental illness; it’s a bit of doubt and worry over things that are probable. Panic attacks are rare. Depression has been replaced with actual emotions. I still have down moments but I know these are natural pessimistic thoughts or generally feeling fed up and not the onset of mental breakdown. I’m in control and although depression as an illness is not avoidable or something you have a choice over, you do have a choice what to do next. Depression tells you you’re powerless, worthless, not liked, you’re slowly dying, you’re wrong, as well as many physical symptoms and at the same time makes you feel numbness and you don’t seem to care that any of this is happening. Anxiety makes you feel a crippling fear and worry, sometimes paranoia and delusion. I’m still puzzled as to how you can have both as one made me not care and one made me terrified. I do know that living with anxiety is depressing and depression gives you a reason to be scared. You can follow me through Twitter and see what my life is like now… in my opinion it’s awesome!
So find your silver lining, work on you, take care of your mind, body and spirit, figure out your passion and where happiness lies, get rid of baggage, give yourself a break, de-clutter physically as well as your schedule, build on good relationships and cut ties with bad ones, accept your flaws, love who you are, celebrate small things… just look mental illness in the eyes and tell it that you are going to own it!
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