Depression and anxiety mean many things to everyone. Especially, to those who have been diagnosed, with one or both of them. There are so many different types of each, that distinguishing between which is which and what is what, is not easy. Then, each of the types, have varying degrees as to how bad they are.
So how do we know if we have one or the other, possibly even both. Well, really WE don’t. THEY, (who ever THEY may be) say WE should go see a trained professional, aka, a doctor or psychiatrist for a diagnoses. That appointment will be filled with, a lot of talking on your part, and probably even some tears of pain and frustration. It is hard to say how many appointments you will have after that first one, but what ever it takes to “get better” we do.
I was diagnosed with having both depression and anxiety 13 – 15 years ago. I suck at keeping track of dates, so I stopped trying.. How did I know, there was something going on with me, with my head, inside of my head? I was driving through a town, that I had driven through at least 100 or so times, and out of no where, I felt like I could hardlybreathe, my heart was racing, and I was sweating. It freaked me out!! It took me a long time to figure out what was going on. It steadily got worse, then the mood swings started. Up one day, down the next day, some days were just ok, not up or down, then there are the really, really bad days. Those days are the worst, the mere sight of another human could set me off. Any little thing, it didn’t matter, my poor cats meow would send me into fits of anger. I hated every thing around me. Then you have the days that you are quiet. Not a good quiet, the kind of quiet that means you are in your own head. Beating yourself up for everything and anything. You’re ugly, you’re a miserable person, nobody likes you. Why am I even here, no one would miss me if I were gone. Talk about mental abuse, that is exactly what I was doing to myself. I finally couldn’t take it anymore, I knew I needed help, I knew what was happening to me and I knew, I wasn’t going to get any better. I called the doctor, and set up the appointment. At my appointment, there was a lot of talking, and tears, but somehow I managed to get it all out. My Doctor told me what I had already guessed, I had anxiety and depression. We talked a bit more and he gave me my prescription. With in two weeks, I was starting to feel like myself again. Yes, it felt good, I could think clearly and I could smile and be happy again, I could still get upset, but didn’t go into a rage. I felt good!
I started wondering, how in the hell, does someone just develop depression and anxiety? You don’t, not really, for some, it can be hereditary, for others, it can be environmental. For me, I am not entirely sure how it came about. Could actually be both, I have a sibling who has been diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder, anxiety and, a few other things. That tells me, it very well could be hereditary, but at the same time, I had some things(that I will not go into now) happen to me as a child that could have started me on this road as well.
Growing up, I was the quiet one, the one you would see in the corner by them selves. Yet I was also very active, yea, I know, how the hell can you be both. It all depended on how safe I felt, who was around me. What type of people were they? Were they nice people, or judgmental people? It didn’t matter if it was family or my own age group, if I didn’t feel 100 % safe, I would not participate, I would stand-off to the side, and just watch. That is how I became, what I call, a watcher. Since I watched people so much, I could pick up on who I could trust or not. Even as a child, in elementary school, I knew. Watching people’s body movements, listening to how they talked, how they interacted with each other, I could see a lot, and I did not like a lot, of what I was seeing. Now don’t get me wrong, I had my friends, people who I hung out with, but never fully trusted any of them. I didn’t really realize what I was doing, or even how I felt back then, I just knew I felt different. That feeling continued to follow me the whole way through school, and into my later years. I wonder, could I have been developing a social disorder as a child? Maybe?
Finally getting out of school and into “real life”, having kids, getting married. My first marriage definitely had its ups and downs. We fought a lot, not just your typical fights. We had so many physical fights, that, I can’t even remember all of them. I remember the worst ones, and shit would fly and get broken. I had a cast on my hand at one point, having to explain that to people, was not fun. I was young, and I was tough, and I could give as good as I got, and I would fight back like my life depended on it. As the years went on, I stopped fighting back. It was almost like a trigger for him, when I stopped fighting back, he started fighting with words, he got mentally abusive then. What I haven’t mentioned yet, he was also an alcoholic. Yes that matters, because alcohol would make him brave, he would do and say things, then not remember them the next day or he would remember them, and just not give a shit. How I felt, didn’t matter, what I thought, didn’t matter, what I felt, was stupid, what I thought, was stupid. That is how it went for quite a few years, constantly being told, that I didn’t matter and that I was stupid. I finally gave up, I did, I just gave up. What happens, happens. What ended up happening was, one day he started to try to get physical, and got in my face. Instead of getting pissed and making him get away, I got scared and turned my back. I knew at that point, if I would have done anything to him, he would have hurt me. I mean, really hurt me. I don’t think I would have been able to stop him. I realized, I was scared of him, and that was not a good thing, I was not living like that. I packed me and my kids up and left, for the 10th time. Yes, the 10th time. We were separated for almost 3 months, and I went back.
I am a firm believer, in things happening for a reason, I believe this, as much as, I believe I need to breathe. I am going to take the chance, and tell you all, this next part, don’t piss me off by judging me, it’s not your place. Things happen for a reason, right? Right. When I moved us back in, there was now a strange man living in my basement. We called him the cellar dweller. I didn’t talk to him for the longest time, remember, I am a watcher. I watched him, I would watch how he interacted with other people, including my now ex-husband and my kids. I seen him with his family, because they would come to the house to visit him. I felt, that I had a pretty good idea as, to what kind of person he was. I don’t know if he had been watching me, the same way I was watching him or what, but out of the blue, he just started talking to me. We didn’t talk a whole lot at first, just a little here and there. We slowly got to know each other, then one thing led to another, and I realized that I had fallen in love with the cellar dweller. No, I did not have an affair with him. When we both realized how we felt, I told him he had to leave, but, I would follow him after I told my husband the truth. That was a hard conversation, but I did it, and I am very glad I did.
Why did I feel the need to tell you all that, which is a mini version of my life’s history. Well, goes back to the question of, how in the hell does someone just develop depression and anxiety? This is what I have come up with for me. For 16 years of my adult life, I was in a volatile relationship, so, I had an outlet for all of the emotions I was feeling. I would be able to get everything out when we would fight. Looking back, I can see that the depression was there, just not fully manifested. It wasn’t until I met and married my husband,(who, by the way, is awesome, and the best thing that could have happened for me) that the depression and anxiety came out completely. There was no more fighting, so I didn’t have that release anymore, so it had the chance to completely manifest itself. If I was so happy, why did it manifest then? That doesn’t make any sense. Yes it does, because it does not matter, how happy, contented, in love and am loved I am. I still have the chemical imbalance in my brain, that says I have depression and anxiety. That, I will always have it. It will always be there, ready to strike at any moment. Sometimes it will take hold of me, and have me in some deep dark places for days. I feel that I am one of the lucky ones, my depression is a mild case. I know, some of you have it much worse than I do, and struggle with it everyday. The struggle is very real, and very difficult. Just to be able to get out of bed some days is a struggle. Then, you have to find a way to cope with all the thoughts that are going through your mind, and all of the feelings you are having. I know your days are hard, and your nights are even harder, sometimes.
I want you all to know, you, are not alone in your struggles with depression and anxiety. There are many of us out here, with stories of our own. I shared only a small piece of mine with you today. I hope that it helped take away some of the loneliness, that I know you feel, that I know we all feel. We are here, I am here. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
If you even suspect that you might have depression or anxiety, please call you family doctor, If they can not help you, they can refer you to someone who can. Please call them, don’t put it off any longer. If you don’t have depression or anxiety, but knows someone who does, please share my story with them, so they can know, they are not alone!
Thank you so very much for being here with me today,