they say you don't know what you got 'til it's gone / / they say that your darkest hour comes before your dawn

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

It's in the past.

I want to talk about something I don't often speak of – my anxiety and depression. It's not that I'm ashamed of it, embarrassed about it, feel sensitive about it, or anything like that; it simply doesn't come up often in conversation. I'll give you some background information about my struggle with it so you get a better picture of the whole situation.

My parents got divorced when I was roughly 10 years old, and my mother thought it best if my brother and I saw a child therapist to make sure we were all okay with it and shit. I had some pretty serious issues with separation anxiety and worked through it in my therapy sessions. After the divorce, my mother was with another man, which didn't work out, and then found the next guy. He invited my mother, brother and I to come live with him and his daughter and son. My brother was roughly 11 years old, and his son was roughly 8 years old; I was roughly 13, and his daughter was roughly 11 – my brother and her were only a month apart.

They were together for 7 years or so. I spent those 7 years being verbally and emotionally abused on a daily basis because I couldn't be the daughter he expected me to be; a daughter like his own. I spent those 7 years crying myself to sleep, thinking about self harm, and generally apathetic towards everything. I stopped going to school, stopped eating, and spent all my time playing my Nintendo 64 or watching movies. One day, when I was about 15-16, I snapped after getting into another argument with that asshole and flew into, what my mother thought was, a panic attack. I don't remember much but my mother tells me that I was pulling out handful sized chunks of my hair, I was crying hysterically, grinding my teeth, and when I wasn't pulling out my hair, I was forming fists tight enough to cut my palms with my nails.

The doctors said that going home to that asshole was unsafe for my mental health and that therapy would need to commence again. I spent a few months in therapy, where I lied through me teeth to get out of early because I was sick of it. Eventually my mother left her asshole partner and we moved into our own place. Unfortunately things don't always go to plan and as such, mother and I argued almost daily. At 17, I started abusing prescription medications and had daily self harm thoughts. Shortly after my mother caught on, I was thrown back into therapy. I was diagnosed with depression and my mother chose not to medicate me, for obvious reasons. After a year or something of therapy, I felt like I was okay.

I spent the next 4ish years on-and-off dating a guy, which led to my depression creeping back up on me without my realisation. I broke up with him, started dating Michael, and then things, like always, got out of control. I hated my job, my relationship with Michael was terrible at this point, my mother's new partner was a complete fucking dick, and I felt trapped in everything. I don't remember it clearly, but there was a day at work where I couldn't stop crying. I spent the first two hours of my day in tears, hidden behind my desk walls, and then was sent home to the doctors. I filled out that stupid from-0-10-how-do-you-feel test and was diagnosed with depression, again. This time, I was 22 years old, and so I chose to medicate myself. I didn't want to lose my job, no matter how much I hated it, and wanted the quickest way to fix it. I took them for about a month or two before stopping because I didn't like the way they made me feel. I also didn't like how I couldn't drink on them (Alcohol is a depressant, if you're not aware.)

From that point forward, I made the conscious decision to control my anxiety and depression without drugs or therapy. It took a long time before I found what worked, but now everything is fucking amazing and I hardly ever feel anxious or depressed. The tricks I use to make myself feel better are unique to me and my issues. I can't guarantee that they'll work for you, but it's always worth a shot.

Own your emotions.
Don't be ashamed to feel the way you do - accept that you're feeling anxious or depressed. Fully understanding how you're feeling will help you learn to recognise the beginning of them. You can feel yourself about to have a panic attack or that you're starting to feel depressed.

Understand why you're feeling the way you do.
Working out the triggers will prevent you from putting yourself in situations that will result in negative behaviours. You can see it coming from a distance when you know what starts it.

Take 10 seconds to breathe deep and heavily while ignoring everything around you.
I'm not kidding. Close your eyes, breathe, count to 10 and then start fresh. You won't feel 100% better, but it helps in calming your body down.

Ask yourself – is it really worth getting this worked up over ?
9 out of 10 times, it's not. If it's not the end of the world, then stop acting like it is. There are things in the world that are completely and utterly out of our control. Learnt to let go the things out of your control, and accept that there's only so much you can do.

Every time you feel negative about something, change your thoughts to something positive.
Seriously, tell yourself “no” and think of something that makes you happy. Keep doing it until you feel yourself let go of that negativity.

Vent.
No explanation needed. Get a blog, write in a secret padlocked diary, whatever. Never, ever, hold it in. Never. You will explode.

Be honest with others about how you feel.
If someone asks how you're doing today, and you're not doing too well, say so. If studying for an exam is making you anxious and depressed, say so. If someone in your life makes you feel inadequate, say so. Not only will it help others to understand how you're feeling, it'll help them and yourself to change the environment. Own your emotions.

Cut the shit.
If there are people in your life making you feel like shit, cut them out. If your job makes you feel like shit, quit and find one that makes you happy. If your appearance make you feel like shit, change your hair or change your wardrobe (hair grows back, and tattoo removal is painful+expensive.) If your thoughts keep telling you that you're not worth anyone's time, cut it out. Surround yourself with things that make you happy, and only those things. If you have something that reminds you of your lying and cheating ex-boyfriend, throw it out or give it back. Do this with everything in your life.

Let people care for you and help you.
Support networks are a key in helping with depression and anxiety. Knowing you have someone you can run to and blurt out everything to makes it easier. You know you're not alone. If you don't currently have someone, find someone. There are countless free counsellors willing to listen and spend time with you.

Remain positive.
There is always hope. Things will always get better. You can bounce back from it. This is not the end. You are better and bigger than this. There is so much more to life than this. If others can get through it and live without fear, so can you. It is possible.

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