My Severe Depression and Anxiety
I am in no way a medical professional. This blog is meant to share my own personal experiences with anxiety and depression. Do what's best for you and what feels right for you.
I can remember feeling anxious from a very young age. My parents were strict and nothing scared me more than getting in trouble. However, I still managed to be the problem child, no matter how hard I tried.
I specifically remember being super young and getting frustrated with my family because I felt so misunderstood. I felt things. Hard. And I thought about things to the point of obsession. I would overthink everything; what I was wearing, what my hair looked like, what my family thought of me, what my friends thought of me, what my teachers thought of me, everything. It was a lot for a little girl to handle. You could say I've always been a pleaser. I used to see myself as "adaptable", in that I can adapt my personality to the type of situation I'm in; but I started to get overwhelmed when I started to lose sight of what I really cared about and who I really was.
There are definitely a lot of factors that go into why one has depression or anxiety. It can be hereditary, something you've dealt with your whole life, something you only experience during stressful times, or something that just comes out of nowhere. Whatever your situation is, just know it is NORMAL and that there is help out there. For me, there is depression and anxiety deeply ingrained in both sides of my family. In addition, I underwent an experimental chemotherapy regimen for my optic glioma for over a year and a half at age 9-10 (another post on that soon), along with just being a HSP (highly sensitive person).
Like I mentioned before, I remember feeling anxious from a very, very young age. There are many different ways to cope and manage anxiety, and it definitely has been a bumpy ride for me. When I was a kid, I would get overwhelmed by something and would feel myself starting to cry without even being sad. My anger and stress materialized into tears and screaming. My mom would send me to my room and I would scream and bawl into my pillow before falling asleep. Release.
I can vividly remember my first real panic attack. I was a Junior in high school and I was sitting in my Spanish 3 class when my phone started buzzing uncontrollably. At the time, I was dating a really nice guy, but also had a (male) mentor from a retreat I went to. I was also going through some friendship troubles with girls (oh, high school) I had known since 8th grade, on top of trying to stay up with my classes, social life, and extracurriculars. My phone was getting blown up because on of my "best" friends tweeted that I cheated on my boyfriend (without any proof and without asking me first) with my mentor. Immediately my heart started racing, my throat closed up, and my vision went blurry.
I had a good friend in that class with me luckily, and he talked me through one of my first and worst panic attacks (shout out Brian A. I don't know if you're reading this!) My professor noticed something was off (she was amazing as well. Love ya Ms. Nulph!) and asked if I needed to leave. I did, and met with my mentor out in the hallway who had already seen the tweet (for God's sake, I went to a 1000-person private high school where everyone knew everyone else's business) and hugged me while I was shaking. I didn't know what to do but I needed to get out of the building. He took me to my guidance counselor (shout out Mr. Dominguez, amazing guy) who talked me down from the ledge that day. He told me things I know now, like how petty high school is and come graduation, none of this will matter. Obviously an anxious person doesn't think rationally, so I didn't believe him. Spoiler alert: he was right.
After that experience my Junior year, I really didn't think much about my mental health. I knew I had depression, but it was manageable. I was able to get through my day without really feeling down, and things seemed to be getting back to normal. The summer going into my senior year was rough--all those "friends" I had since the first day of high school were gone, I broke up with my nice guy boyfriend, and I was leaving for college in a year. I distracted myself with Tumblr (lol), and found my love for blogging. Tumblr was an amazing community during that time. I met some amazing people who I'm still friends with to this day.
Tumblr also was the reason for one of the worst chapters of my life, when I was dating an abusive Marine (another post for another day). And this is where I pinpoint the beginning of my severe anxiety and depression.
The first few months after my Marine boyfriend and I broke up, life was honestly great. There was nothing harder but more liberating than leaving my abuser. It was a long time coming, and I was ready to have fun. And that's what I did. There was so much drinking, dating, partying, and making up for lost time that I had to do. I was thriving. I had a bunch of guys texting me, I was living life to the fullest, and my friends were super supportive of my crazy single self. This is happiness I thought to myself.
However, I soon found out that my mental illness was going to take over. A year after I became single, I started to slip into that same depression that had haunted me for years. I stopped working out. I stopped responding to texts. I played guys who really wanted to treat me well. I was self-sabotaging but I couldn't stop. I wore this mask everyday, trying to convince myself and my friends that I was happier than ever. I have no reason to feel like this, I kept repeating to myself. But that's the thing about mental illness. There doesn't have to be a reason. It's the way your brain works. And that's OKAY.
I'm still trying to convince myself that my anxiety and depression are normal. It's hard some days. The days where I can't even get out of bed without wanting to rip my skin off my bones just to escape even if for a second. I have found a steady regimen that helps me with daily coping. I take Zoloft, I have an amazing support system through my boyfriend, family, friends, and coworkers, I work out regularly, and I do use medicinal marijuana. Everyone has their own opinions on medicinal weed and it's benefits--I can say that smoking has helped me IMMENSELY with getting through my day-to-day struggles. The way I think about it is, I would rather ingest a natural plant than ingest a manmade chemical (Xanax) everyday and feel even more disconnected with reality.
I urge you to find your own thing that works, and please let me know what works for you. I'm always willing to try new remedies.