Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Living with Anxiety & Depression

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
+ 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?


Join the conversation!

  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 ~Jessica Marie @

    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. :)

  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

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

  3. Hi, so good to hear that you dealing with these very bravely. I am an Indian and here in India mental illness is treated with a very wrong perspective. I suffer from both anxiety and depression. I always want to be alone and hate being surrounded with people ... i hate too much sound. I get anxiety attacks too often. Ive to fight myself(mind) everyday and it`s like Ive a mask on when i meet people. I dont get proper sleep...... I turned for help from a doctor but that did not work out. It did not help me much. Ive recently started to listen to sound of water at the shores on youtube. it really helps me to calm down. Hopefully I come out of it some day

    1. I'm not sure if it can be shipped to India, but I highly recommend the Dr. Christopher's Mindtrac herbal supplements I take. It has Valerian, St. John's Wort, Skullcap, and a bunch more in it. It has saved me. It's been 11 months since I started taking it everyday (2 capsules in the morning and one after dinner), and I feel like I'm a stable, mostly healthy person these days. I have good amounts of energy, and I am able to workout regularly to keep my body healthy. It doesn't heal you completely, because it's not as strong as pharmaceuticals, but it works. It gives me enough healing that I can actually do the rest of the work, eat healthy, sleep well, and exercise. It gets me out of depression, and calmed my anxiety. I still feel them sometimes, but they don't interfere with my life, and that's exactly how I wanted it to be. I linked to it in the post, but you can also search "Dr. Christopher's Mindtrac" on Amazon, and order some to try. Both my husband and I take it and it has helped us out a lot. He takes more than I do because he's bigger than me. Stay strong, and don't get discouraged. Modern medicine still sometimes forgets that there are less abrasive ways to treat things. And... if the less harsh herbal supplements help, it's way better for you. I know that for some they don't work, but the reviews online are mostly good. And they've changed my life!

      Plus, if you can, find a great therapist. Talk therapy works wonders for anxiety and depression.

    2. I also recommend yoga, and focusing on abdominal breathing when you're feeling anxiety attacks coming on. Breathing in as deep and slow as you can by expanding your stomach, then holding it for a few seconds, and exhaling... repeating until you feel calmer. The abdominal breathing really forces you to control your focus, as well as the benefits from the slow down of your oxygen. When we get anxious we tend to breath shallowly through our upper lungs without knowing it. Go for a lot of walks, or walk on a treadmill. The movement will improve your mood. And make sure to avoid really heavy greasy fried foods. They really made me feel low. And when I'm depressed and anxious, and don't want to do anything at all, that's what I would eat. And... if you can, force yourself to have a very normal sleep routine. I would stay up really late watching TV, and end up exhausted which makes it harder to manage my moods.

  4. Your article is so expressive. Yes, not all depression is crying all day. So many people miss the fatigue that is so prevalent. Anxiety and depression are hard hitters, especially hen they come together. I liked the varied resources you use like a therapist and herbal remedies, etc. It think so many people think the solution is in a magic pill. It takes action like you share so well. Thank you for being so open. Our world is a better place because of your strength,courage and vulnerability.

    1. Thank you so much for your comments. My only hope is that others will be able to find peace from their trials with this stuff, and that those who've never had it will understand that it is so much more than just being sad or nervous.

  5. I can relate to how you tackle irregularities. Even coping up with depression can be overwhelming. Thank you for a wonderful read.

    1. Thank you. It definitely can be overwhelming. After a while, experience can help the overwhelm be less and less.

  6. I was researching a project for school when I came across your blog. I wanted to let you know that I love how hard you try to be positive and how you try to make the best of things. You are inspiring.

    1. Thank you! I do my best, and hope whatever I put out there helps.

  7. Thanks for the information.

  8. Hi I have just started Dr. Christopher mind trac for my anxiety and depression how long did you take it before you felt any relief

    1. I had results immediately. Maybe took a couple hours to kick in, but it was immediate for me. The first thing that changed was my muscle tremors stopped. And then the next day after I'd had a few doses, I felt like going to the gym. I hadn't had the energy to do that in months! I know friends that have taken it and hated it. But for me it was exactly what I needed.

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