Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Anxiety and Depression - Some Personal Thoughts

Hello friends!

I try to keep the intimate details of my life private, but I also believe that by sharing the difficult parts of who you are, you can help others who suffer from similar problems, and also help educate those who have never experienced it.

I have a big problem with anxiety, panic attacks, and on occasion OCD in the form of scary thoughts that run rampant on repeat throughout my mind. I've had these problems since I was twelve years old, and they went unidentified until I personally discovered what was wrong with me, at age 22.

Some of the physical feelings that I feel when I am having a panic attack, include sweaty palms, racing thoughts, extreme faint feeling, hunger, shaking, and just feeling very lightheaded and 'tripped out' or like out of my body.
These physical sensations cause further distress, and make a normal person feel like they're going nuts! It is absolutely terrifying.

The worst part of it all is that while you're going through this terror, the sensible part of you is still there, and alert, and knows that everything you're feeling is not real, and is just a physical reaction. So the part of you that is feeling scared and physically ill, is in a constant battle with your rational side that thinks it's all silly and annoying.

I'm writing this because I recently read a brave young woman's post about her own struggle with depression and anxiety, and it inspired me to share my feelings as well. This is what I said to her, and I want you to read it too. I think it applies to people whether they're going through anxiety, a divorce, or lost a loved one... it's about finding the strength within yourself.

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I've just read your essay about your anxiety and depression and how you've found a way to deal with that through tending a small garden.

I have severe anxiety, panic attacks, as well as OCD (thoughts). I struggle with a lot, and sometimes feel like I'm going crazy. I have trouble leaving the house alone... The other sensible part of me laughs at this, and thinks that it's just silly that I struggle with something so weird. The medication helps me deal with this, but I never really feel 'normal'.

The thing that keeps me going is my passion for art. I think it's a bit like you creating your garden. It needs you, just like my art needs me. We're creators giving life and sharing our creations with others, and bringing them joy. It's one of the best feelings in the world :)

Depression and anxiety will come and go throughout our lives. That's just what genetics has set out for us. I try to remember that, and know that none of the negative feelings I feel are actually real. They're just the result of some chemicals that are not balanced properly in my brain mixed with memories of bad experiences. I try to accept that, but also try to fight it, so that I can be the best that I can be (even if I'm not feeling any better for having tried, because the point is that I am always trying and never giving up, not ever). I am determined that as long as these problems are mine, and as long as they keep trying to bring me down, I will continue to battle them right back and kick their ass.

A quote that I find inspiring is this:

Life is a storm, my young friend. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look into that storm and shout 'Do your worst, for I will certainly do mine!'
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Thank you for listening. :)

6 comments:

  1. This is a very brave post. Thank you for sharing :)

    I think that quote at the end is lovely and sums up so much of life and how hard it is.

    I don't have anxiety to your degree, but it is a significant counterpoint in my life. I have chosen to go through my life medication-free, after being on it for depression for a significant period of time.

    Life just isn't easy. But if you have your mindset checked against what you know buoys you, it makes a HUGE difference.

    Art is a haven, and it also lives off of us, in a way. I also think that's very powerful.

    Thank you SO much for sharing! :)

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  2. Thanks for sharing Sasha! Inspiring.
    Also, you're a great illustrator.

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  3. I have been there too in periodes of my life, and I know how difficult it can be...
    Thanks for sharing this, Sasha! You are brave, and strong!
    A big hug to you :)

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  4. I have been debating about posting something similar on my blog. Despite all the information, the education programs and the like, there's still a great stigma around mental illness.

    I've been struggling with anxiety for the past few years, and it got to the point where I couldn't leave the house last year. Every day I went to work I had a panic attack. Going shopping was a nightmare. I was exhausted, I was sick, and in the end I crashed.

    I had to give up a lot. It's been a long hard fight to get some sense of 'normal' back in my life. It's an ongoing process. I'm an everyday person. I was working in a stressful role, but would be considered a 'successful professional' in the IT industry. The art helps. The commissions give me sense of purpose. Some days, just the fact that I get into work is an achievement.

    Thank you for sharing. I'm still not sure that I want to post so publicly, it's such a private and personal journey, that is hard to understand unless you've been on the inside.

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  5. Thank you all for your very thoughtful responses. It means a lot to me that you would take the time to read and respond to this. :)

    Karen - Thankyou for being a great and supportive friend. I hope we will become even better friends when you're out of school. :P

    Lauren - You are such a sweet heart <3 I agree with everything you've said. I've tried not being on the medication too (it's just a simple anti-depressant that treats anxiety as well), and I seem to revert back to having constant panic attacks. It's just written in my genetic code, so I'll likely always have to be on meds. They help me a lot. I'm glad to hear you've found a way to live well without them. :)

    Markus - I think you're a truly kind-hearted person and I wish I had gotten to know you better in school! Thank you for your comment. <3

    Hilde - Thank you for your support my friend! I will continue to forage ahead! :)

    Nicole - I am very sorry to hear that you are going through something similar. I really appreciate your sharing your story, it reminds me none of us are alone. Hugs. There is a huge stigma about mental illness. Hopefully by being open, we can help change that. :)

    I can relate to everything you've said – I hate shopping (all those people rushing around, those bright florescent lights, and waiting in lines... ugh... talk about the perfect recipe for a panic attack). Hiding at home does become an appealing thing, though it makes going outside feel even worse than it already does, so I'm trying to combat that. Also, your choice of the word 'nightmare' truly strikes a chord with me. That's how it feels... and like a nightmare, no one can really see or feel what you're going through.

    If you ever want to talk feel free to send me a message. :)

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Every comment is read and appreciated! I love hearing your thoughts! :)
Feel free to leave a link to your blog so I can check it out! :)

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