Sunday, November 4, 2012

How to Deal with Anxiety/Depression

Happy Fall My Little Crunchy Leaves !

How are you ?

It's been way too long since I've updated here, but it's so easy to get distracted by Facebook and being lazy and doing nothing during the weekend. But the truth is, I really miss writing. Writing and reading the blogs of others is really therapeutic and I have missed that ! Writing memorializes your life at a certain point in time and allows you to see things clearer down the road and come to realizations you never would have made  otherwise.

As you know, I deal with Anxiety and Depression. Notice how the title says "deal with" instead of "fight". I wanted to give some advice on how I am learning to manage my anxiety and depression.  PLEASE NOTE that this is just my story and suggestions, it is NOT professional advice, and I would not recommend changing anything if what you are doing works or if you disagree with me. Anxiety and depression are very personal to the individual and there are no concrete solutions especially when people suffer for different reasons. This post is meant to be compassionate. In other words, I understand you and am here to offer what works for me and MAY work for you. If it doesn't work for you and you are searching further, that is okay. Just don't lose your curiosity and one day you will find your answers or at least leads. But it won't be easy and you have to do the work and keep on keeping on.

1.) I am going through this with no medication. If you are on medication and it is working for you, please do NOT stop. But I have realized that my anxiety and depression stem from my emotions from the past traumas I have gone through. I have realized that I have to be fully present with my emotions and let them run through me fully so I can learn to accept them and manage them. Which is really difficult. But the problem is, if your medication no longer works or if you want to go off, your original emotions are waiting there for you when the medication wears off, usually even stronger. I learned through all of this that I don't want to be fully present, that I usually check out and that is counter-productive to this process.

I have been on medication, which lasted one year. It took the edge off, and while that was nice to not have to deal with all the anxiety, I started not to care about much in life anymore, and I merely existed from day to day. I also lost my creative spark, and the desire to dress up and look good, which I used to always care about. I lost the will to write, and my desire to dance. I didn't have to fight emotions all the time, but I was just existing. I could no longer stand it. I didn't want to live that way. I didn't want to grow old and realize that I just sat there and watched my life go by instead of living it when I had the chance.

Besides, the medication was no longer working. And when I decided to go off, my anxiety issues were right there waiting for me twice as strong as before. Probably because I didn't enroll in therapy while I was on medication. While I was on medication, I was a zombie and didn't feel I needed the therapy. Because there were no strong feelings to deal with, I didn't feel inspired to go, and kind of duped myself into thinking I was okay. Because the medication takes 2-6 weeks to kick in, you don't really notice a difference until later down the line. It gets difficult to tell sometimes. Many people tell me that a combination of medication and therapy was very effective. I personally disagree because if I am on medication I don't want therapy, or I don't want to journal, because the strong feelings are not there for me to deal with.

I was so relieved when a dear friend of mine who is licensed told me she felt I should not take anything. She said that I just need therapy. She was against meds, and I was happy to hear it. She felt I could deal with my emotions, accept them and learn how to manage them and live a med-free life. I gave it a shot.

Of course my doctors in my PPO wanted me on medication. But when I first took medication, I had awful side effects. I had brain zaps, and white-outs. In the beginning, everything would turn fuzzy and white and my ears would ring. It scared me. But luckily it happened in the beginning, and I eventually felt better and got the anxious edge taken off. Then a year later I developed brain zaps and the medication wasn't working as well.

If one medication doesn't work, doctors have you try something else, and who knows what the side effects could be. And what if your doctors aren't that reliable or compassionate or they left and stuck you with someone else? I did not want to waste valuable time being a guinea pig. I also did not want to rely on chemicals to change my moods and stifle my feelings.

Over the summer when I met with a new psychiatrist, he prescribed me a different medication, (because he is a psych doctor on my crappy PPO) but I could tell somewhere in the back of his brain he felt that I didn't really need it. Even my psychiatrist before him would say things like "See, you traveled the world all by yourself dealing with anxiety and you turned out fine. You are fully able to handle your emotions, but it is nice to sometimes go on cruise- control and this is what the medication does."

Which leads me to

2) Anxiety and depression can not be fought. For me it had to be accepted. I had to and still have to accept that this may be with me forever, and that it is okay to feel like total shit, it is okay to feel like the world hates you, it is okay to feel like you want to go crazy. I accept those feelings, and treasure moments of happiness even more when you come. But when you are feeling sad and get angry for not being happy, it's pointless.

Don't you ever get tired of these "positive" "self-help" speeches telling us that we have to be positive no matter what ? That we have to ignore the negative and focus on the positive ?  To fake it until we make it ? That if we are sad for no reason we have to tell ourselves to snap out of it because so many people have it worse ? I think it's a little unreasonable to place that pressure on people.

I get tired of listening to that shit because we are human and entitled to our feelings. There is always a reason we feel the way we do. There is no such thing as people experiencing emotions for no reason. Besides, my feelings and other peoples' misery have no connection. You can feel sad and still empathize with people going through hardships.

In other words, you don't have to tell people what you are going through if you don't want to, but you can still feel it and accept it and be there for others in a time of need.

This leads to

3) Because we are so ashamed of feeling anxious and depressed, we stay in instead of go out with our friends, we stop doing the things we love because we let our feelings prevent us from feeling whole. Unless we feel good, we shouldn't be out. We are so ashamed of our depression and anxiety that we think the whole world will notice when we step outside. That people will notice and judge us or shame us. So we try to pretend that there is no problem, and feel so ashamed when we aren't happy when we are out with our friends or on a date and then we punish ourselves and the cycle continues.

Now that I am learning to accept these feelings, when I am out and feel moments of hopelessness, I don't cut the day short, leave the room or sit in a corner. I just acknowledge that I feel like shit, and that it's okay and that I am going to stay where I am and continue with my day.

I also learned that most people don't notice, that the world does not revolve around my emotions, and it is not the end of the world if I feel shitty. The world will not stop if I feel like I am about to go crazy. In fact, most people won't even notice. All they see is that I am out there doing whatever I am doing. They don't see that I feel like I am in prison. People that I am talking to don't see that I feel like I am about to go crazy. They just see me talking to them and asking them about their day or making immature jokes.

It is easy to lay in bed all day and feel guilty for wasting the whole day once you do get up. If that happens, just get up and go about your day. Just because you had a depressed morning does not mean that you will have a sad evening.


1) Don't feel like you have to be bound by medication if it's not for you. Facing your raw emotions without meds is one of the most difficult things you will ever have to face. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better. But if you do it, it lays a solid foundation for the future.

2.) Accept what you are going through and that it too shall pass. Our life and everything in it is temporary. Be okay with how you are feeling and work on changing your emotions if you don't like them. But accept them first.

3.) Continue to go out and do the things you used to do.

Well, that is all for now my lovelies !! Of course I could go on and on about this subject, but this is a start for now.  Please let me know if you have any questions, comments or suggestions. No matter what science and medicine say, we are still free thinkers and are free to make our own decisions and come up with our own solutions. I hope you find the answers you are looking for.


LL Cool Joe said...

I'm a sufferer too. And a great deal of what you have said makes a great deal of sense. I've never used medication. I just accept it as part of my makeup and try not to let it control me.

Riot Kitty said...

I think this is a thoughtful post, and I appreciate it - I live with both of those diagnoses, and while medication does help me, I tried everything else first. Medication should be a last resort, not a cure-all - and it has taken therapy and hard work like you are doing for me to OK most of the time. I have realized that it's just going to be a struggle sometimes. And you're right, we need to be able to talk about it! I think that's why support groups are so helpful for some people. Good on you for writing about this.

BamaTrav said...

Me, I'm just happy go lucky I guess. xo

Big Mark 243 said...

Wow... am I glad that I read this..! This was a very emotional post and I wish I knew you IRL so that I could give you the biggest hug right now.!!

Thanks for sharing... how brave and thoughtful of you!!!

Memphis Steve said...

I used to write some of my best blog material when I was unmedicated and not exactly feeling happy, upbeat or the least bit hopeful. In fact, from the feedback I got, people like my stuff the best when I was so down I just didn't even see the point of caring at all. Ironic, but true. I don't know if this contributes anything useful to the conversation, but I do appreciate that you've written this. It is indeed helpful. And I think it's good advice.

natalie said...

lI love you sweetie pie and I really appreciate your writing!
One of my newest fav novels helped me to understand traumas worse than any I have ver experienced. Can you imagine that!
And so I think what my daughter says is true; communicating helps!

natalie said...

lI love you sweetie pie and I really appreciate your writing!
One of my newest fav novels helped me to understand traumas worse than any I have ver experienced. Can you imagine that!
And so I think what my daughter says is true; communicating helps!