I’ve been living with depression-anxiety for around ten years. I remember the day my mom called me out on it vividly. We were parked outside my uncle’s house and I couldn’t stop crying long enough to leave the car. My doctor diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, mental illnesses that were present in both my grandmother and mother. I had panic attacks often and without warning. I was moody and emotional, common in a teenager, but mine was more than that. I was sad. I cried myself to sleep more often than not. I never wanted to go out with friends. I had no passions, no ambitions. I was incredibly unmotivated. I was smart. I got good grades. But I still never felt good enough.
Depression and anxiety are just a part of my daily life. I remember driving with a boyfriend and suddenly feeling like I was going to die while he quietly sang along to Frank Sinatra. I stared out the window and felt my body start to go numb with anxiety. He had no idea I was in any distress.
Panic attacks are just that – they’re attacks. My heart beats faster, my hands go numb, my breathing gets shallower….I feel like I’m going to die. And that feeling, the feeling like you’re going to die, only makes it worse. It’s a vicious cycle.
Depression is more subtle. There aren’t any immediate physical warnings or signs. I have to remember to keep it in check or I’ll start to spiral down into some sad abyss. The feeling that everyone’s hanging out without me always sits in the back of my mind. The notion that I’ll die alone and no one will ever love me sits beside it. But that’s not all depression is for me. Some days it’s not having the strength to get out of bed or leave the house. Other days it’s crying over spilt milk, literally. Sometimes it’s getting caught up in the fact that I’ll never be the best at anything. There will always be a better writer, better photographer, better me. And that stunts me. That sets me back in my own creativity. Why should I keep doing what I’m doing if someone else is always going to out do me?
“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.”
– Vincent Van Gogh
I take pills for my depression and anxiety. I never wanted to. I don’t like to think that I need medication to function like a normal person. I like to think that I can handle myself. But I can’t. I can’t stop the panic attacks and I can’t live with them – I don’t want to live with them. It’s miserable. The pills stop them. I don’t feel anxious all the time. I can breathe deep and relax. Depression is trickier though. I don’t get caught up so much in sadness and worthlessness, but it still lingers. I think it always will linger and that’s okay. I’ll always feel a little left out or a little bit alone, but that’s not something I can’t fix. I continually surround myself with people that care about me. I go outside. I create. I learn. I fight back.