I have a confession. Sometimes I have irrational fears.
Sometimes I’m afraid of the dark. Sometimes I’m afraid that I will walk outside and my dogs will be gone or simply dead, lying lifeless on the cold concrete of the car port where they are tied. Sometimes I’m afraid I will walk into a room and everyone will turn and stare at me for no reason.
Quite often I have anxiety attacks when I think about such things. My heart starts pounding. My breathing gets faster. My thoughts start racing and each thought is more horrible and gut-clenching than the last.
Nowadays when this happens I know that it’s irrational. I know that I just need to take a few deep breaths and calm down, but it doesn’t ever really work like that. My brain is screaming that I need to chill out, but the rest of my body doesn’t comprehend the command. Everything else in my body is screaming that I’m under some sort of attack, so the rapid pulse, near-hyperventilation, and racing thoughts continue.
This anxiety has happened for as long as I can remember, starting before college and before high school. I knew it was odd long before I could categorize it as irrational. There were even times I would have vivid dreams that would cause me to sleep walk and when I woke up in the middle of them with someone asking me what I was doing I would have a panic attack and go back to bed without answering them.
Unfortunately, as my anxiety got worse around people I found myself falling in and out of depression. I would have crazy, wild mood swings where I’d go from happy to cursing angry to bawling my eyes out in a matter of hours. The worst days were when my anxiety triggered my mood swings which generally triggered my depression.
The older I got the worse everything got and I became more and more of a social recluse who was too anxious or depressed to be around anyone else except when I absolutely had to be. Eventually I recognized my mood swings and depression as having somewhat of a cycle, but I still couldn’t control it. It took many, many years before I found a close friend to talk to about it and many more to talk to others about.
Now, I know many of you who are reading this would like to hear a happy ending about how I realized what was going on and I took a magic pill and everything was rainbows and roses after that, but that’s not how it worked, at least not for me. It would be nice if it did, but it didn’t. In fact I still struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, mood swings, and depression. I do a myriad of things and talk to specific people about it to keep it under control, but it’s a constant struggle. There is no magic pill, no secret antidote for it, just me and the resources I utilize to make it better. That may be very discouraging and seemingly unhelpful to some of you reading this, but don’t let it be.
There were times in my life where I couldn’t function as a normal human being. There were times when I was so crippled by what was going on inside me that I would sit on my living room floor with my arms wrapped around my knees sobbing and thinking about ending it all. But somehow I pushed on. I would tell myself that it was selfish to commit suicide when I had family members and friends who loved me so much and would be devastated if I did. It may seem silly to some, but just having my dog Dirk depending on me every day helped pull me through some of those dark times. He would sit close and let me cry into his long, soft fur and he would lick my cheek and tell me in his own quiet way that it was going to be ok and he needed me to be there.
Each time I would come out of my depression I would try to find something or someone else to help me stay out of it a little longer, or manage it better. I talked to my best friends, I made lists of coping skills and things that made me happy, things I felt blessed for. Eventually I summoned up enough courage to talk to a counselor and try to find the root of the problems.
It’s not easy. Like I said before, I still struggle with it on a regular basis. There is no perfect answer, but it can be overcome if you really want to overcome it. There is help that doesn’t include drugs and alcohol (I tried the latter one and it failed miserably). So if you’re reading this and you feel overwhelmed and hopeless, take a deep breath. The sun is still there I promise. There are people who care and there are ways to change wherever you are right now, no matter how low or dark that may be.
An Anxious & Depressed Individual Who Fights to Overcome it Every Day and Wins More Often Than Not