The Darkness of Depression and Anxiety
by Ronda Payne
If the thought of hurting yourself or someone else seems comforting or logical, please talk to a mental health professional immediately.
I personally have suffered through major anxiety and depression and know that the pain and darkness of these conditions are real. Through trial and error and a lot of hard work, I have found my light, brighter than before, and this first, in a series of articles is designed to help you regain your light too.
Many times we hear people say that they are feeling drained, stressed out and unhappy; but why do we feel this way so often? Family obligations, health issues, work demands, financial pressures, even positive events like promotions or graduations – there are so many potential sources of stress it’s no wonder we sometimes feel overwhelmed and can’t put things into perspective. When we are feeling emotionally taxed, some of us will additionally take a relatively benign event and perceive it as being ‘another tragedy’ in the insurmountable pile of issues. When stress becomes too great, or it leads to unhealthy thinking patterns, clinical anxiety and depression can result.
Don’t blame yourself for feeling this way, but do take responsibility for changing your situation. Let’s begin by identifying if you have depression and / or anxiety. Though the two conditions often go hand-in-hand, they manifest themselves differently and the symptoms, which often overlap, are diverse.
Common symptoms of Depression:
- Loss of interest in normally pleasurable activities
- Tiredness, lack of energy and change in sleeping habits (desire to sleep late, inability to sleep through the night, etc.)
- Change in sex drive
- Loneliness when not warranted
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Inability to concentrate or make decisions
- Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
- Change in eating habits or weight
- Recurring severe sadness
- Thoughts of death or suicide.
Common symptoms of Anxiety:
- Feelings of helplessness
- Panic or nervousness
- A sense of doom
- Irrational or obsessive thoughts and fears
- Continual worry
- Blame of yourself or others
- Stomach or digestion issues
- Unexplained sensations of hot and cold
- Tense muscles
- Heart palpitations
- Constricted throat.
Because I experienced many of these symptoms, among others, I knew I needed to change my life. If you’re ready to make a change, begin with three things that will help: accept your feelings, talk to someone and know that you have options.
When you are in the depths of anxiety or depression, it is all-consuming. It is the most horrible sensation I personally have ever experienced. Regardless, it is time to stop running from or denying your feelings and accept them. I have been there and know how hard this can be, yet it is part of how I found my way out. It’s not about liking the condition – it’s only about accepting it. You can do this simply by saying to yourself “I accept, that right now, I’m feeling anxiety / depression”. This is challenging, so praise yourself for every success, no matter how small.
You likely feel uncomfortable telling even your closest friends and family members what you are experiencing. When I was with others, I spent my time hiding what I felt and desperately trying to mask my symptoms. Perhaps it is because the symptoms can be so intense and scary that we fear being labeled ‘crazy’. Despite this normal resistance, discuss your condition with someone you trust and are comfortable confiding in. Perhaps you prefer sharing with someone outside your personal circle. Check the Internet or local directories for professionals and groups that specialize in anxiety and depression and choose what is right for you. By talking to others, you will gain the strength to start taking control.
You have many options that can help. Go to your doctor or health practitioner for their input. Many people are able to recover through the use of exercise, diet and nutrition, natural health products, medication, acupuncture, hormonal rebalancing, meditation, regular therapy and other tools. If one option doesn’t work, remind yourself that there are others available and there are professionals who can assist you. It took me many months to find the right mix, so don’t be discouraged if the first thing you try isn’t effective.
One of the worst parts of anxiety and depression is that your thinking is coloured, so that you feel trapped, helpless and hopeless, as though there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Knowing you have choices creates a sense of optimism and gives you the confidence you need to make changes.
You are strong. With patience and work, you will find your way back into the li