The ADAA (Anxiety and Depression Association of America) estimates that depression affects somewhere around 15 million Americans. Anxiety disorders also affect somewhere around 40 million Americans. Those statistics alone should tell you that you’re not alone. It is hard to convince yourself that this is the truth when all we feel is loneliness, abandonment, and isolation. Note that I said “we”, and not you.
This is my, somewhat anonymous, way of coming out and saying that I too am afflicted with generalized anxiety and major depressive disorder.
I don’t know how else to put this, but I’ll share some of my story I guess.
I won’t get into specifics, but I’ve fought this for around ten years. Could be longer than that, but who knows? It took me until sometime between my 22nd and 23rd birthdays to admit that I was feeling something like depression. I googled symptoms, looked at checklists, and took quizzes. All said that I was depressed, no shocker. I went to two therapists, and neither helped. I tried to talk about it, but how could I when I couldn’t explain what was going on in my own head? I couldn’t explain why I just stood in the shower and cried. I couldn’t explain that I didn’t want to commit suicide, but that I wanted to die. I couldn’t explain why the simplest things put me over the edge. I couldn’t explain that I felt nothing except anger. When something like this goes on long enough, you don’t even know what it is anymore. You don’t know who you are without it. It is this insidious descent that becomes just as much a part of you as your name. I couldn’t feel anything aside from anger, I couldn’t be happy for fear of it all crashing down. I did everything I could to numb myself from all of this, but it never worked.
After my two failed attempts at therapy and another year of trying to deny what was going on, I made the decision to seek treatment again. Of course, I didn’t make the decision alone. A concerned friend reached out to me to suggest that I seek help. I decided to begin my search. Thankfully my wife supported my decision completely.
Finally, a breakthrough. I remember that first meeting with my therapist vividly. It was like a vicious body blow that sent me reeling. I couldn’t shake it. I knew she was the right one. I’ve been going to appointments almost weekly for over six months now. I’ve been officially diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder and on medication for around four months.
Over that time I’ve realized that beating this isn’t easy, nor is it simple. There is no map to guide us. There are no cookie cutter cases and all of our situations are different. It takes serious work. It takes difficult reflection. Everyone has to fight this their own way, but know that in doing it, you are not alone. I’ve been there, as have millions of others. Hell, I’m still there. Some days I wake up and don’t want to move. What do I do? I get the fuck up and move. I get showered and brush my teeth. I eat my breakfast, and I go to class. Surely these sound like simple tasks to most, but for someone who’s depressed, they’re not. Other days I wake up and want to bake some cookies and go wild with all sorts of activities. The fact of the matter is that things still overwhelm me. I still let my anxiety get the better of me from time to time, and the depression is still hanging off in the distance. I wish I could say that I’m just magically happier, but I’m not. That being said, I’m a lot less fucking sad. I feel things now. I cry during movies, I laugh at comedies, and I kinda understand myself a little bit better. My point is, I didn’t give up and neither should you. If I’m capable of dragging myself out of that bog of self-deprecation, you’re capable too.
Look, I probably don’t know most of those who read this but I want to say a couple things that have helped me out.
First, take care of yourself. Self-care is hugely important. It doesn’t matter if that’s sitting down to read, eating a bowl of ice cream, or playing the shit out of some Starcraft 2. Take care of yourself!
Second, you’re worth it. I know I’ve always thought that I was this idiot who couldn’t do anything right. That isn’t true about me, and it isn’t about you. You’re good at something, and you’re worth something. Even if your greatest talent is bitching about historical inaccuracies in television shows (Looking at you Tudors), own it! Be the best at it.
Third, never give up. You’re better than the darkness. You can get through this. It won’t be easy, but since when has anything easy been worthwhile?
Fourth, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you need: a hand up, a hug, a shoulder to cry on, treatment, or an ear for you to verbalize everything going on in your head, just ask. Nobody around you can understand what you’re dealing with if you don’t communicate with them. I used to not communicate, then get angry when people couldn’t read my mind. It wasn’t until several months in therapy that I figured out that everyone around me isn’t telepathic. Still, I could use some work on that practice.
Fifth, get it out. Don’t let the darkness completely consume your head. Write, sing, exercise, do whatever it takes to release some of your pent up anger or sadness. Get out of your head and let it out. To me, there’s nothing more cathartic than a good purging session. This is something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I hold everything in, obsess over it, and explode. Those negative emotions get trapped and have no way out, only building up the intensity and driving me further downhill.
If any of you reading this can relate, I wish I could reach out and give you a hug. Sadly, I can’t. Technology hasn’t gotten that advanced yet. Instead, I can listen or read. If you need to vent, feel free to comment or message me on twitter @NikolaiBrumbach. I’ll be there. Keep fighting. Never give in. You’re worth it.
I’m a human being.
I’ve got depression and anxiety.
I wasn’t alone, and neither are you.