Living with Anxiety & Depression

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Living with Anxiety & Depression // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

Statistics now show that one in six people will suffer from a mental illness each year in the United States. Yet, we still have a stigma toward it.  It's everywhere. So, why are we so scared to be open about it? Having a mental illness doesn't mean you've gone insane. The majority of people with mental illnesses are just normal people that you would never know have something going on. Take a look around at the people you're with everyday. In an office of 50? That means almost ten of you are dealing with it right now. Got 5 friends? One of you is suffering.

The most common mental illnesses people face are anxiety and depression -- both of these come on for lots of reasons, some being grief, acute stress, loss, other health issues, or just because for no reason other than they're short on the chemicals they need to keep these issues at bay. 

Since I happen to have experienced both anxiety and depression several times in my life, and pretty steadily over the past two years, I'm going to discuss a little bit about what I've gone through and how I'm getting myself back to healthy. 

Before we dive in to all the super serious details, let's just have a good laugh. I really think I should've sent this to my husband after we got engaged. 


I've pretty much had anxiety since I hit puberty. It's directly linked to my hormone levels, and therefore wreaks havoc on my body when I cycle through them each month. (I'll talk later about how I manage it and things I have tried.)

Here is what anxiety looks like for me:

+ worry
+ vertigo
+ stiff neck and shoulder muscles
+ severe and debilitating tension headaches
+ hot flashes
+ nausea
+ lack of appetite
+ IBS
+ chewing the insides of my mouth
+ panic attacks (these are new as of last year)
+ tightness in my chest
+ shortness of breath
+ trembling muscles
+ numb hands and feet
+ heart flutters
+ early waking
(Note: I don't experience these all the time, usually. When my anxiety is managed, I rarely have any of these symptoms, except that damn mouth chewing thing... it's been a nasty habit since I was 10.)

Here's what my anxiety is not:

I am not afraid of people, or places, or experiences. I want to participate in every thing. However, I have to miss a lot when it's out of control. And that is because it is damn near impossible to hold a conversation with someone when your muscles are jittery, you can't breathe, and you're unable to keep your balance. In those moments, all I can think of is, "ABORT! ABORT!" and I have to go home to freak out in peace.

Here is what my depression looks like:

+ forgetting to shower
+ constant tiredness
+ low energy
+ inability to motivate myself to do anything
+ apathy
+ major lethargy
+ a general feeling of unwell
+ ability to watch Netflix for an entire day straight

Here is what my depression is not: 

Crying all the time. That is just sadness, and grief. When I cried all the time it was right after my mom's death. That eventually subsided to an apathetic feeling which was how my depression started.

Here is what happened as a result of both of these things taking over my life:

Because I was exhausted, and sick all the time from both the anxiety and depression, I spent every day sitting at my desk at work, then laying on my couch at home. I didn't exercise much. My muscle strength deteriorated. My energy was virtually non-existent, and my immune system was the same. Acute stress caused by prolonged anxiety and depression kills your ability to fight off illness. It also gives you fake illnesses like colds that aren't colds, or fevers for no reason. My body hurts all the time. My neck is weak. My heart flutters regularly. I am dizzy at least once a day. 

I've done my research and visited doctors and found that you can actually keep your system on overdrive for so long that it wears out your adrenals. You do not make enough chemicals to help you cope anymore. In fact, it will just continue to send the stress response all the time -- which makes you sicker and sicker, which is what has been happening to me and why it was so crippling. 


How I treat it

In the past, I just exercised, used essential oils, and took a Xanax if I had a really bad day. I also took birth control for seven years to help with the regulation of my hormones.  I wrote about my other previous methods that helped, here.

Recently though, as of early June, my depression and anxiety were getting really bad. The symptoms were seriously effecting almost every day. So, I tried SSRIs. I couldn't handle them, and almost ended up in the hospital. They were just too strong for me. 

Now, I take Dr. Christopher's MindTrac instead.  It's an herbal supplement that is a combination of several all natural herbs for depression, anxiety and energy. Luckily for me, I'm a lightweight and respond well to herbal remedies. It might not work for everyone. In fact, SSRIs work really well for a lot of people, so if you have something that's working, don't worry about trying this.

(Note: Talk to your doctor before taking it, especially if you are already prescribed something else. It can have bad interactions with certain medicines, and/or you may need to taper down whatever you're taking.)

Here is what herbal remedies have done for me

I have been able to maintain regular amounts of energy, which allowed me to start a workout program. My muscle tone is starting to come back, and I can already tell my body is getting stronger. It helps me stay motivated by getting rid of my depression symptoms. When I'm tired, I can still get things done. When I'm sick, I can still get things done... as I'm doing this blog post right now after being up all night with the stomach flu (curse you dirty gym weights!)  My muscle jitters stopped almost instantly after beginning the herbal supplements. My digestion improved almost immediately. 

These supplements aren't a cure-all. I still get anxious, but I don't get crippling anxiety. I have had a few bad days here and there, but a few compared to every day, I'd say that's remarkable improvement! It is allowing me to regain my life enough that I can tackle the things I need to in order to create healthy habits that will get me back to homeostasis. 

I also found a great therapist years ago that I go to regularly when I need her. 

Living with Anxiety & Depression // WWW.THEJOYBLOG.NET

It's ok to admit you're a little bit broken. Just because you fell apart doesn't mean you can't be fixed. Just because you broke under the weight of hardship doesn't mean you're weak, and it certainly doesn't mean you're crazy. We all will have to go through things that will test our strength beyond all capacity and beyond all of our own abilities. It's a learning process, and it doesn't make you weaker than others. It makes you human, and the liver of your life. Be good to yourself, forgive yourself for struggling, and accept all of it as part of your beautiful unique story, and then go out and do the work to heal yourself. Talk to a doctor, therapist, and research all natural methods. Do what you have to do to make your life easier to live. Mental illness is an illness, and in a lot of cases, a very treatable one. 

I still have a very long way to go. My body is in such disrepair that it's going to take at least six months to a year of regular exercise and healthy habits before I'm feeling super great again, but, every time I drag my butt to the gym, and take my supplements, I feel proud knowing that the work I do now, is helping me to heal my brokenness. I am in control, even if I don't feel like I am completely there yet. 

I hope whatever journey you are on, you're able to find ways to get through it, and on top of it.

Thank you for reading this far, and thank you for reading my blog! I expect more posts to be coming soon, now that I am starting to be on the mend. 

++ Do you have anxiety and/or depression? How do you treat yours?




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4 comments

  1. I'm so glad you're feeling better and found something that works! I have so much empathy for people who are experiencing anxiety and depression because I've been to the utter bottom, particularly after experiencing postpartum OCD. Some of my story has even been published on The Mighty. That was the WORST experience of my entire life. I've experienced most of what you list above and laughed with you about the biting the cheek thing. I've done that since I was little too! Also, I ashamedly pluck out my eyelashes as a worry thing. I'm actually developing a course about strategies that have worked with me for anxiety. We should connect! I've found that I can't live without my SSRI. I am super sensitive to them too, so I had to start at a reeeeally low dose and work my way up. I also had to go through 5 different ones to find the one that worked. Some had horrifying side effects but I thank God all the time that I found one that makes life so much MORE, just more! I could talk about this all day...lol. ~Jessica Marie @ flashfittrainer.com

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    1. I'm always sorry to hear anyone else has dealt with this. It's awful! I'd love to connect more about this. Feel free to email me from my contact form. :)

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  2. Really enjoyed reading your blog. I too deal with depression and anxiety, I am on the road to recovery but it's been a long one. If you like you can check out my blog www.harrislisa72.com

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    1. Thank you! I checked out a couple of your posts. I'm sorry you've had a rough road! Your children are beautiful.

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