This is the time of year when I usually start writing again. And here I am. Hello world, it's me, I'll be here for a few months, then like a mist, gone again. Depression and anxiety really are a harsh bitch. They change the way you see everything. This year may be the worst I've seen in decades. No idea why, but I want to be someone else right now. My heart is always racing and I can't stand living in my own body. This isn't new to me. It's been terrorizing to me for the entirety of my life.
I'll do a very brief description, nothing you've never heard before sadly. The world is now full of people like me. I don't know if it's our food, our culture, our environment, or all of the above, but it seems that most of us are dealing with varying severities of depression/anxiety. It's become the norm. Memes are made from such things.
Depression comes on for me overnight, sometimes with a hopeless and gut-wrenching dream. This didn't used to be the case with me, but recently, these dreams have ushered in darkness. I wake up and I don't want to get out of bed. Everything is dim and dulled. Sharp noises irritate me. People talking too much get pushed to the back end of my consciousness and I am not listening. I don't talk much these days to the people close to me. I sit and stare and listen to music that reflects how I'm feeling. I try not to make noise around the house. I want to be alone with it, which isn't good for me.
At work, you'll see the opposite. The darker it is inside, the more extroverted I become to people that don't know better. I'm a clown. I like to make people laugh because it makes me feel like a human again. I want to sleep all the time. I stay up late to be alone and wake up late to be alone. All things that are not good for me. I seek to make it worse.
Anxiety hits during this time at different speeds and periods. The depression I can handle much better than the anxiety. When it comes in, I hate being around people. I hate driving. I hate any noise at all. I hate people looking at me. I hate sitting still. It sometimes makes me feel like I'm dying. I am in fire all the time and feel like it's summer in Arizona.
Living like this with the desire to live at all produces coping strategies, which is really the reason I chose to write about this. I love life. I love people. I love my family and friends. So I try to figure it out. I try to make sense of it and find weaknesses in my enemy's defenses. Altogether the illness is winning, but can't and won't take me down. Here are a few things I've learned that have helped a little.
Get sleep at night. This one is new strategy, but I've found over the last few months that it helps. Make a schedule and stick to it. Go to bed at a certain time and get up at a certain time, preferably early. This helps manage expectations and forces you out of bed. Plus, an appropriate amount of sleep is really, really good for you.
Breathe. This seems self explanatory, but most people don't breathe effectively. Life is fast and we often let the little things go. We forget that the little things are the biggest things. Breathe from your belly several times a day, focusing on your diaphragm rising and falling. It may even make you light headed at first because you aren't used to breathing properly.
Exercise. I know this post mirrors what every professional tells you. That's why they are professionals. Because it's true. Some exercise makes it worse for me. Lifting weights makes me anxious for some reason, so I add cardio to the end of my lifting days. Running has helped a lot. I sweat and hate it, but in the end, the exhaustion it causes helps reduce anxiety and gives me time in my head being miserable about things other than my depression. It's good for you and constructive.
Allow zero negativity. If you speak it, you speak it into your personal existence. If you talk positively, positive things follow and vice versa. Fill yourself with what you want to come out. You have to fill your life with things that rival how you are feeling. When I'm depressed, I want to make it worse with sad things. Instead, force yourself to listen to things that bring you somewhere else. I'm a little hypocritical here because I still 90% of the time make it worse for myself. But I've noticed that there is a mood and confidence change when I listen to something positive when down. When I speak positive words into the world...even if I don't completely believe them.
Have a routine. During depressive times, it's common for people to sleep too much. To stop taking care of yourself. To neglect personal hygiene. I've found that the "Look good, feel good" philosophy is best. Set an alarm and get up without the snooze. The thing alarms, you rise up. Shave, shower, put on deodorant and/or cologne. Where clean clothes. Brush your teeth. Get a haircut. Do the things you know normal people do every day, even if you can't currently identify as a normal person.
If they love you, let them in. This one is hard because anyone struggling with depression/anxiety is embarrassed of it and hyper-sensitive about being an imposition to those we love. We have to remember that they really do love us and want to be there when we are hurting. Pushing them away is a death sentence. They are God sent, and we need to embrace them honestly. You'd be surprised I bet, how much people really do love you.
Eventually, you will wake up. The sun will be bright again and the colors vivid. You'll feel a little better about being you, even if you still aren't sure who that person is. I write this as a person who stopped taking medication because it's side effects were too harsh. This isn't the case with everyone, so medication from a psychiatrist is a very good option. But if you are like me and meds aren't the answer, look for things that make it better. Change the narrative of your life. Take what's left in those guts of yours and fight for your life.
Thanks for reading...Z