My Battle Against Anxiety and Depression

Those who know me have seen how different I have been lately. It was something I did not want to acknowledge at first; I did not want to admit—even to myself—that I have changed, and not for the better. It was difficult for me to actually put things into perspective, let alone words, that I have been going through something. Just a few weeks ago, I admitted that there was something wrong and sought help. Now, I want to be open, to be honest, to be able to help others who might be going through the same thing: being diagnosed with General Anxiety Disorder and Major Depressive Disorder.

How It All Started

Discussing the root cause of my condition has always been difficult. At the same time, knowing it helped me a lot to take the first step toward my recovery. And I am happy to talk about it now.

It all started in August of 2014. I went through a breakup that I wasn’t prepared to happen, and especially that I couldn’t accept its reason. I blamed myself—to me, I was the sole cause of the breakup. I felt inadequate, betrayed, hurt, miserable.

After the breakup, I learned that my friends have been keeping a secret from me, lying to me. I was continually lied to, made a fool of, betrayed. It shook me to the core. I tried brushing it off, but it wouldn’t go away. But I braved through it. I did not want to appear weak: I smiled through all the pain, I laughed through all heartache, I drank through all the denials, and I partied through all the bargaining. I wanted people to see that I was okay, that I was happy. But it got through me; my fortitude broke into pieces, and I decided to take a step toward moving on. A step that proved to be another mistake.

I was under the impression that I could move on should I go and be away from my ex, so I volunteered to be sent away to do provincial expansion and training for our company. I told myself I would focus on my career development and personal growth, but the joke was on me because it only made me more miserable.

I was away and alone for two years and a half; I was in three different places, trying out new things, meeting new people, travelling to places I have never been, building new friendships. All these made me happy, yes. But at the end of the day, when I an alone in bed, I knew and felt that something was still missing, and that is because I haven’t had come to terms that our relationship ended so abruptly when I thought we were weathering the storm together.

I shifted my focus once more; I decided to step up and applied for a promotion. I was promised the post, groomed to be the supervisor, assigned tasks that I tried so hard to deliver. But the promotion never came. It hit me right in the gut. It only made me feel more inadequate—never enough for anything. Despite this, I remained and fulfilled my promises, to help the site grow.

Things became more demanding. Changes came. And my frail self couldn’t handle the change. Being the most tenured member of the team, I became almost liable to anything the team does. Anyone’s error is my error. I had sleepless days and nights trying to make ends meet, I listened to several redirections for things that aren’t my opportunities, I took accountability of people’s mistakes, and many more things that I thought I could carry. I had too much on my plate. It piled up. I tried standing even when standing wasn’t easy. I became tired. And it only reinforced the feeling of inadequacy because despite all my best efforts, I was never given what I was promised. And this was when I realized I had gone beyond my breaking point.

How They Made Me Feel

Anxiety robbed me the joy of the things I used to do. Speaking in front of a crowd, which I used to love becomes taxing. It scared me. I would dread the idea of facilitating a lesson in class. I would hate the idea of being in a crowd like clubs or common spaces where people I know or do not know would be there. Even a simple thing as going to the mall or taking the jeepney became a very challenging thing to do.

Depression made me feel like I am a liability, that I only cause inconvenience to anyone I ever interact with. There were also instances where I only was a convenience to everyone else, that they are only there when they need, and they discard me once I have fulfilled my purpose.

I would normally feel guilty about almost the slightest things in life: forgetting to reply to a chat or message, forgetting to do follow through something I was asked to do as simple as checking the laundry, not saying hi back to someone who greeted me. It also made me feel inadequate, and that is why people started distancing themselves from me. I felt like I was never enough in every relationship I have, both personal and professional, the very reason why the breakup happened or I wasn’t given the promotion I was promised.

I became hesitant to reach out for help. I didn’t want to bother people with my problems because I know they have their own. I secluded. I thought of fighting all these on my own, so that way, people around can carry own with their lives without having to worry about me.

Both anxiety and depression took away the fervor of writing. I tried to write, to be creative, to be poetic again. And I couldn’t. Looking at a blank page of a word document or my journal became exhausting. The bliss of creativity was taken away from me. My only coping mechanism was disabled, and I became even more hopeless.

My confidence was affected as well. I no longer feel adept at what I do—both training and writing. I always feel like my works are mediocrely done and shouldn’t be published on my blog. I feel that the quality of training I give to my trainees is less than the standard I and the company have set, despite being told by several people that I am at my best during training. I always feel like I do nothing right.

Both my anxiety and depression has turned me against my entire being. I became hazard to myself. I was my own worst enemy.

What They Made Me Do

I started isolating myself from people because of both anxiety and depression. I avoided any social interaction and even turned down several invitations to go out. And these are the things that are not harmful; I have done worse things that people I love could never imagine I would do.

There were instances where I entertained suicidal thoughts, and have even enacted those ideations. I overdosed myself on an over-the-counter drug after reading that it is fatal given a specific dose, because I wanted to end everything—I did not want to die; I just wanted my life as I know it to end. But it didn’t end me; it only made me sleep for twenty-one hours and gave me nausea and vomiting. Looking back at it, I find it funny how it made me feel like a failure that I could not even commit suicide right.

I also mutilated myself: cutting my forearms and biceps with blade whenever I feel alone, neglected, like a liability, or whenever I experience my triggers. The scars are still visible; they are there to remind me of my continuing battle, a battle which I am determined to win.

I have neglected several personal duties, especially to my family. I stopped talking to them, actually, and never told them what I was going through. I felt ashamed to open up to anyone simply because I did not want to add to their burdens. I kept quiet in my own bubble of darkness.

What I Have Decided to Do

I have decided to fight against it, to raise awareness about, and help people who are going through the same thing.

The first step was to acknowledge that I have it, that it is not just another thing that will come to pass when ignored. I decided to open up to my closest friend first, and then I decided to seek professional help. I went to a local hospital that offers affordable and even free support for people with mental health problems.

I accepted their offer of individual and group psychotherapy sessions and their endorsement for me to see a psychiatrist for pharmacological help. Currently, I am in therapy and see my therapist every week, and on medication (Escitalopram, 10mg). There are also advocacy groups who reached out to me to help me better understand and cope with my condition. They send me workbooks, journals, and other materials that will help me with my journey toward my wellness.

The next thing I did was to challenge the way I feel and think. I made sure that I know my triggers, what cause me to feel and think that way. After identifying them, I created action plans: I asked myself what I would do whenever I feel and think that way. It wasn’t easy. There was no one-size-fits-all action plan for this. I had to go through several trials and errors. I am happy that my friends are very supportive about my recovery.

I also started opening up to more people. I have told some of my friends what I am going through and the warning signs of my condition so they can better understand anxiety and depression and, hopefully, save lives.

Making myself busy was something that proved to be helpful too. I engaged myself in active ministries and other social groups that will offer me support emotionally and spiritually. These prevent me from having several harmful thoughts. I have also started becoming active in several advocacies: mental health wellness, zero waste and eliminating plastic waste, and pet adoption. I have decided to use my platform to raise awareness about these advocacies and join events promoting them.

Since I know what and how it feels to go through all these pains and the warning signs, I have started to reach out to people whom I see the signs with. I know that it isn’t easy to talk about what we’re going through; sometimes, we cannot even find the words to describe how we feel and why we feel that way. It is always best to get help and support from someone who knows and understands what you’re going through.

I have also decided to release all bitterness and hatred from my heart, which are part of my triggers, and offer forgiveness to the people who wronged me. I do not want bitterness to reign over my heart and cloud my logic. I am doing this for myself because I no longer want them to have any control over me. Forgiving these people will set me free and will take me further toward my wellness.

Lastly, I turned to God. I threw my fears to the wind and asked for his help through supplication and prayer. I asked for strength, fortitude, and the power to go through all these, because I know that with God, I am not truly alone in my battle against anxiety and depression.

How I Feel Right Now

I would love to stay that I have fully recovered. But that isn’t the case. I still feel like a liability, a burden, inadequate, inefficient, a convenience, expendable. But I challenge these emotions. I still have triggers and symptoms every now and then; at the same time, I am better now. I have started my journey toward wellness.

I’m glad that more and more people are advocating mental health awareness and telling people to reach out and seek help. At the same time, it’s not that easy. People with mental health illness find it difficult to reach out, even to people they love most and love them most. There is always the pang of guilt, the twinge of fear of being misunderstood or rejected, the sense of being a liability. Telling them to reach out is easy, and them doing it isn’t.

Let us be the ones to reach out. It may not always be accepted by them, but let’s take a gamble. They need us more than ever. They need us to listen—listen to understand, not just respond.

Bringing awareness sometimes isn’t just enough. Let’s put it to action. Let’s reach out to save lives. Let’s not wait for them to reach out to us.

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