Today I’m having a difficult day.
I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety in 2012 and was put on 3-4 different medications because I could not get through it on my own. I lost interest in every day things and felt nothing.
Six months later, I moved across the country to New York. I was alone, scared, and anxious. I decided to stop taking medication so I could feel something. I was going to a city full of artists and people who felt things. I did not.
Two years later, I finished a conservatory; no longer scared, no longer anxious. I felt things, I was interested.
Two more years went by and I began feeling lost. What was wrong with me? I went back to school, determined to finish what I started. I was working 2 jobs and going to school. I had no time for myself and panic sunk in.
One day I was called in to the office at work. My boss told me I seemed unhappy. I broke down and let someone see my vulnerability, my weakness. I was drowning and didn’t know it. I was so consumed with work and school that I didn’t notice I was struggling. Something was wrong.
That day was a dark day.
I walked home sobbing, hiding under my sunglasses when there was no sun. When I got home I couldn’t breathe. I was having a panic attack alone in my apartment. I found an old prescription of Lorazepam and took two. I hadn’t taken it in almost four years.
That night was one of the worst nights I ever experienced. Instead of feeling sad or scared, I felt nothing. I was empty. I didn’t feel sad anymore, but did I feel better? No.
I decided that was the last time I would take anti depressants.
Today I’m having a difficult day. Today I feel sad. I have no reason, but I feel it.
Most days I feel fine, I’m not sad, I don’t feel empty…but sometimes I do.
I’m learning more about myself every day and I’m proud that I know how to handle my thoughts. I am not crazy. Depression is real. It’s serious and can make you think some pretty scary thoughts, but instead of wallowing in my pain, I work through it. I take a deep breath, count, and exhale the fear.
I think it’s important for everyone to realize the severity of depression and anxiety and recognize its effect on the mind. Anxiety disorders affect nearly 40 million adults in the United States and only about a third of them receive treatment. There are many different types of anxiety including Social Anxiety Disorder (which affects about 15 million people), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (affecting nearly 2.2 million), Posttraumatic Stress -PTSD (affected by more than 7.7 million), and Panic Disorder (which affects around 6 million adults). Those are only just a few of the many, horrifying categories of anxiety, not including depressive states.
Symptoms come in varying forms: persistent sadness, hopelessness, fits of rage, loss of interest in every day activities, insomnia, low appetite or overeating, thoughts of death or suicide, difficulty concentrating, and so much more. Personally, I’ve felt all these symptoms at one point within the past four years.
What I’d like the world to know: I’m okay.
Or at least I will be. I have high hopes for the future and am confident that one day I won’t feel these dark, depressive thoughts. I am hopeful that we will overcome the stigma of depression and understand it’s powerful affects on the mind.
If you feel any of these symptoms, don’t suppress it. Do some research, and seek out help. If there is one thing I learned: It’s okay to ask for help. We are not made of steel, we are meant to feel.
Check out Anxiety and Depression Association of America for more information and support. Take charge of your life and allow yourself to feel.