I have memories of struggling with anxiety that date back to when I was 6 years old, but these past two months have been extremely trying and have brought it all to the surface. In this post today I just want to give you a little background on how I've been feeling and also what I've started doing and thinking to help myself through this. The truth is anxiety and depression never go away, but that doesn't mean they can't be accessed in a way you can still live a functioning life.
This isn't going to be a get rid of it ideas post or have any info on how to "fix" you because here's the thing, you're not broken.
You're feelings are valid. You're thoughts are valid. You, are valid.
When I was a sophomore in high school I was diagnosed with moderate to severe generalized anxiety disorder, otherwise know as GAD. More recently when some life altering events occurred and I was at one of my lowest points, I decided to seek help and visit my doctor. Keep in mind I'm 21 now, so it took me nearly 5 years to reach out again. Two weeks ago I was also diagnosed with moderate to severe depression. I'm now on medication to help with both illnesses, which is a whole other post I'll eventually write.
Now I don't want to say that I've always been fearful of actually being diagnosed with depression but I will say that I was never jumping with joy to be labeled with yet another mental illness. The fault in my thought process was that I was lying to myself in saying that I was "fine." Saying that I, Kate, could NEVER actually have depression. I almost felt guilty, or embarrassed to admit that I may struggle with the illness.
I realize now, that's just not the case.
What is "fine"? Everyone's "fine" is different.
Depression is not something to be embarrassed about. It's not something you should ever feel guilt about possibly having. There is nothing wrong with me, just as there is nothing wrong with you.
There's a stigma that comes along with the word depression. Growing up and learning more about the mental illness I realized it may very well explain why I feel the way I do. Just as anxiety directly correlates to how I think and live. I see now, of course, how unfortunate it was of me to be so afraid of it.
In recently seeking out a doctor and being 100% open and honest about how I've been feeling and living, I was told I do in fact suffer with both mental illnesses. It may sound weird coming from someone who only very recently decided to face their biggest fears but I can truly say, I feel such relief from finally acknowledging parts of me I used to shove down and act like weren't really there.
I no longer feel any embarrassment or guilt about the topic. I actually wish I had accepted it sooner so I could have spent my time speaking about said illnesses with people who are/were feeling how I was. I've finally accepted these parts of me. It's been hard and upsetting and I've had many sleepless nights but ultimately I'm so glad I did. I'm not entirely sure where this post is going or what I wanted to talk about but I do want to make one point.
Just because you have a mental illness doesn't mean you are any less of a person. It doesn't mean you're less important. It doesn't mean how you feel and think are any less real. It doesn't mean you suddenly are a different person. It doesn't necessarily mean each day has to better or worse because of the diagnosis. It simply means you acknowledge that you suffer from something that is out of your control. To me it means that you are still capable of living a wonderful and fulfilling life, just like any one else, if you choose to follow that path. I almost feel more in control of myself now that I have accepted and put a name to what I suffer from. I don't mean to offend anyone in using the words mental illness so much but depression and anxiety are quite literally just that. And that's okay.
I've always found comfort in knowledge. Knowing more about how my brain and body work is a powerful thing. Knowing that both depression and anxiety come in many different forms and affect each person differently. I'll be making more posts in the future on this topic. I will go more into my anxiety and how I live with it. Since I've struggled with it for as long as I've had the ability to have memories, I'm very aware of myself and have learned ways to know when I'm on the very low end of my anxiety as well as the high.
I wrote this post just as a start to opening up the topic and letting you all know that you don't have to be alone in this. I'm always here to talk and you'll probably be surprised at the amount of people who want to help and support you in your own life. I don't know where I'd be with all this if I didn't have the unconditional love and support from my Mom and Sister.