Yes, I Have Anxiety, And Yes, I Have Depression

Yes, I Have Anxiety, And Yes, I Have Depression

Miley said it best, "It's always going to be an uphill battle."

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Every day I wake up to a briskly drafted sunroom full of light. In the summers, it used to make me smile, but as the months grew colder, my smile seemed to dissipate with the warmth. I used to never be a grumpy cat in the mornings, but it's become easier and easier to fit into that new role, on behalf of my newly found companions, anxiety and depression.

Wow, did I just admit that? Out loud?

The second semester of my sophomore year in college hit me like a wrecking ball. I played field hockey for the school, I had great friends, and life seemed okay. I had taken on nine classes, equaling 17 credits, with days as long as 6 A.M. to 9 P.M. most days out of the week. Academically, I was in for a firestorm of material I didn't believe I would ever be able to pass.

On top of having such a heavy workload, I was required to be at Spring season workouts, practices, and whatever else we had on our agenda as a team. I had spoken to my coach about my situation, and she, of course, understood the circumstances that I had been dealing with and agreed, classes came first. Some of my teammates just couldn't understand my absence and took it for skipping rather than class.

It all started to become a lot. I was trying to please my parents, my coaches, my teachers, my teammates, even myself; and I couldn't do it anymore.

I remember calling my mom in a complete frenzy of panting and crying all while trying to get my point across of, "Hey, I'm losing my mind." I remember her telling me to calm down, and she had called my coach asking for her to call me in, sit me down, talk some sense, but my coach did something even better. She did sit me down, but we just talked about anything and everything.

I remember her telling me pieces of her life, and things that she had gone through, and I remember just opening up and telling her pieces of my life, and what I had gone through. She asked me if I'd be willing to take a test online, and I agreed on the kind of knowing what it might be, but not really knowing. We switched seats, and I took the test.

More and more, I found myself agreeing with so many of the questions that, by the end of the test, I had a more clear understanding of why I had been feeling the way I'd been feeling. These attacks I'm having are anxiety attacks. I was relieved, yet at the same time, I was so scared. I had heard so much about mental illness, but I never thought that I myself personally would suffer from it.

While the talk with my coach had saved my life at the time, I had bigger problems now that I didn't want to face.

On my campus, I lived in an apartment building where your personal room had a lock pad. None of my roommates knew my passcode, and it made hiding away from the idea of my classes, people, my friends, and life a cakewalk. My anxiety soon turned into crippling depression, and my mom finally found herself taking her 21-year-old daughter to face her demons.

I was at a point in my life where I had no control, and I was a mess. I was given medication, and I was asked to forget and rebuild, by myself. I needed to find a way to build myself back together, and I never wanted to be the person that needed a pill to do it, but I realize it's more than that.

While I still try to ignore all traces of these monsters because that is what they are to me: monsters. I find myself carrying their weight with me everywhere I go. It's a constant feeling of fear, paranoia, anxiousness, nauseousness, and crying. A lot of crying. It's never easy, and every little accomplishment feels like it deserves every bit of award.

For me, when it comes to depression and anxiety you always feel alone, but you're not. My friends and family may not know exactly what I'm going through. I wish they did; it would make explanations a little easier, but ultimately they don't. But my heart is so full of gratitude to have people around me that are always constantly willing to hear every ounce of madness in my mind.

My moods can swing from so cold, all the way to too hot, and somehow my friends, my boyfriend, and my family still find ways to navigate through them all. The people in my life really make me question what I did to deserve them, but maybe they just love me for me.

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An Open Letter To Someone That Doesn't Want To Live Anymore

Please read further if you need to.
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Hello,

I’ll begin by saying that I don’t have the right things to say to you. I know that you are in pain. I know that you think your life is no longer worth living. No amount of advice I have can fully remove what you are experiencing. So instead, I am here to tell you a story.

The first time a certain young girl had an experience with suicide was when she was in 8th grade. She went to school as usual, getting dropped off at the front entrance with some of her friends. She walked in and the topic of conversation was a boy in the high school. The night before, he had killed himself. She had never met him. She knew some of his family members, but not once did she have the opportunity to experience conversation with him. And yet, though she did not even know who he was at the time, she was floored. She hid herself in the bathroom to cry, shaking uncontrollably within the stall. It was incredibly painful for her to know that someone had been so sad that he felt that he didn’t want to live his life anymore. She knew that he never would have expected her to care. She was a girl almost three years younger than him, someone he had never met. But as she cried within the halls of their connected schools, she wished that he had somehow known that his life had mattered to her.

As you have probably concluded, I was that 8th grader. But this story isn’t about me. This story is about you.

I’ll go further. Every person that has taken their own life that I have known has affected me. And every person that has taken their own life did not know me well. I was not particularly close with any of them at the time of the occurrence. This is important, so please consider this: A girl that had never met the people who committed suicide mourned their death. She fell and questioned everything she knew because of their choice. She became depressed because of the death of someone whom she was not friends with at the time. She eventually started to feel the same way they had. And I know that someone, somewhere, whom you have never actually met, will mourn the loss of you. Please don’t take that idea for granted.

You matter. You might not want to be alive right now—but you are. Maybe you don’t think about how it will affect your mom, who will cry in her bed each night wondering how she could have overlooked your sorrow. Maybe you don’t think it will matter to your best friend from high school, who will shiver outside the church where your funeral was and refuse to step foot in another sanctuary. Maybe you don’t realize that your cousin will look at the pictures of the two of you and hyperventilate, not leaving his room for days. But those kinds of things will happen. Please, realize that you need to continue living your life for them. Realize that you need to continue living your life for the 8th grader who will cry in memory of you because she can’t stand the idea of knowing you ever felt this hopeless. If for no one else, realize that you need to keep living your life for yourself—because there is more left for you to discover.

I wish I had the words to remove all the pain you feel right now. Though I may have never met you, be comforted in knowing that I love you. I want you to be living. I believe that the reason why you are still breathing is because you still have a purpose on this Earth. I know you are hurting but please keep going. You are loved by those whom you have never even met.

Cover Image Credit: Canadian BFRB

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12 Simple Ways To Ease Your Anxiety

These are some super simple ways to handle your stress at home.

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Anxiety and stress are very common problems for many of us in today's society.

Over 70% of adults face some sort of anxiety or stress in their lives.

It can really be overwhelming and can seriously affect our mood for the rest of the day.

Pushing these feelings of anxiety and stress aside and letting them build up does nothing but cause more harm to our minds and bodies.

Sometimes, we just need a quick and easy way to help alleviate some of this stress to help us get through the day and to help us feel better.

Here are 12 ways to do just that:

1. Practice deep breathing

Mental stress and anxiety can cause your body to respond in physical ways. Since it affects your sympathetic nervous system, you might experience elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness. Breathing deeply and slowly can help slow your heart and ease your body back into a calm state. When I panic or feel overwhelmed, I breathe in slowly through my nose, think of one thing that makes me happy, slowly breathe out through my mouth, and repeat until I can feel my mind and body begin to calm.

2. Light a candle or start up your essential oil diffuser

My personal favorite scent to soothe my anxiety is lavender. However, you can also try chamomile, rose, orange, jasmine, sandalwood, or whatever else might help you.

3. Exercise

This is a big one, but can also be a very difficult one. Whenever you're feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed, it might be hard enough for you to get yourself out of bed, let alone do any serious exercising. My best advice is to be proactive and try to pay attention to when you first start feeling your anxiety creep up on you. Just go ahead and get up and go for a walk, run, or whatever form of exercise you prefer!

4. Read a book

For me, there's nothing like curling up with a good book to help calm my nerves. Whenever I am knowingly going into a situation that will make me anxious, such as traveling, I always make sure to bring a book to read whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. Reading helps me to temporarily escape my anxieties and can be a big help in giving myself some much needed time to calm down.

5. Do yoga and practice meditation

Yoga is such a helpful activity for those with anxiety and stress! It kind of is just a combination of many different anxiety-relieving techniques (exercise, deep breathing, and mindfulness). There are many different apps, books, classes, and websites you can use as a guide and help to do yoga. You can find what positions, locations, and situation are best for you. Doing yoga gives you a great opportunity to think about and reflect on your feelings and worries.

6. Spend time with loved ones (yes, even your furbabies)

Sometimes, all we need is a little love and reassurance in our lives to alleviate some of our anxieties. Spending time with your family, friends, and pets can help us to see and remember the good things we have in our lives. So many times, those of us with anxiety tend to seclude ourselves and that makes it easy to forget the good we have.

7. Drink more water

Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause feelings of anxiety. It can make you feel jittery and can be a cause for elevated heart rate. Drinking more water not only helps you physically (like hydrating your skin and body), but it can also do wonders for your mental health. When your body is unhealthy and unhappy, that can be a big factor in feelings of depression and anxiety.

8. Take a short nap

If you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, sometimes it can do some good to just take a short 30-minute nap. Just give yourself some time to rest your mind and body and face the issue with a new focus and fresh thoughts.

9. Journal

Even though writing down your feelings, bad or good, can be helpful, when you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try focusing on the positive! Write down a few things that made you happy today or a few things that you're grateful for. Don't let yourself be bogged down by the negative.

10. Clean

This might not work for everybody, but I know that sometimes when I'm feeling restless or anxious, cleaning and decluttering can help clear my mind. Basically, it's just good to find something to put your focus on when your anxious thoughts feel like too much. Try to pick a task and focus on that until you're finished. You'll likely find, in the end, that you feel much better than before you started.

11. Listen to happy and soothing music

Listening to music is a BIG help to some people with anxiety. However, you need to be mindful of what you're listening to. Don't put on the breakup playlist you made when you were 13. Find happy or soothing songs and make yourself a playlist of songs with themes of positivity.

12. Don't bottle up your feelings

This might just be the most important advice I can give you when it comes to handling your anxiety. The worst thing that you can do is to suppress your feelings and try to force yourself to forget about them. Hiding or bottling up your feelings might help temporarily, but that will just make you feel worse in the end. Talk to someone or try one of the other methods I mentioned to face your anxiety, but don't pretend like it doesn't exist.

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