Public Service Announcement: Anxiety and Depression

For a while, I have been debating whether or not posting this or even writing this was a half-decent idea, as I myself have dealt with this in the past. However, after a couple of recent episodes, I feel that this isn’t something that I can hold back anymore. Therefore, I have put the following into writing not only to work through my feelings, but, also, to hopefully reach out to a soul who might need this. Critiques are welcome, but please keep them civil.

Having one or both of these sucks. It’s not something to brag about or to make light of under any circumstance. Anyone who has this can tell you what it’s like to feel a sense of calm one minute, going about their day in a carefree manner until they encounter something or their mind drifts off to something that triggers an inner mechanism–and then, all of a sudden, a descent into a fatalistic worry ensues, and the world may as well be ending in the eye of the victim. Or one may find themselves drowning in a sea of their own feelings of worthlessness and apathy–they see themselves as a blight on the Mona Lisa, so to speak, and feel that they don’t belong among their family or peers. Or anger that they feel will manifest itself in a pent-up, volatile outburst at seemingly nothing. Some moments you feel like you’re on top of the world and ready to let yourself shine, and others make you want to fade into the canvas so that life can go on without hesitation. And no one could even tell from a Facebook or Instagram photo that your mind was drifting into dark terrain in the days leading up to the taken photo or the days since.

Many are afraid of coming forward with their personal issues and illnesses because of the backlash that they fear they will receive: you’re sweating the small stuff, quit feeling sorry for yourself, other people have it worse than you so quit whining, or it’s not the end of the world. The list goes on, but these are examples of the kinds of things those that suffer fear to hear, as if it’s a confirmation that they aren’t allowed to feel the sinister things that haunt them regularly. As everyone is a unique individual in one way or another, so also do those that live with anxiety or depression receive a different effect of the mental illness(es) as well as respond to it in a unique way or form. Studies and findings about the most common signs of anxiety and depression are abundant all over the world wide web, yet many still respond to these things as if it were the same thing as a person who chronically complains about a frivolous matter of work or a person who throws a temper tantrum if they’re accused of stealing something from another.

Anxiety and depression aren’t easy to live with, and it isn’t always an easy task to get out of bed everyday and put on a happy mask to entertain the masses. Heck, sometimes it can be hard to find the willpower to leave the room, whether it is out of fear or despair. We as individuals need to make more time to understand the individual and why they feel the way that they do, and at least be there to listen without making an excuse for judgment if not have a solution to the problem altogether. The less likely those struggling will encounter the stigma, the more comfortable they’ll feel about opening up or coming out of the “mental illness” closet, as some would argue, and thus making greater the road to help and possible treatment. There are people who are already willing to help the stricken crowd (and some may be suffering themselves), so we need to show that we are willing to listen and nurture the mind and spirit in the best way we can.

To those who are suffering from these illnesses or something akin to it, know this: you are not alone in your suffering. You are loved more than you realize. You are worth more than you realize. Whatever plagues you does not define you. Reach out to others for help, especially those who love and care for you–or reach out to those who are also under the same cloud, so that they can work through their emotions easier. Face the day knowing that the sun will still rise. Much love to you all.

Letting Go

Sometimes, the best thing that one can do for themselves is to let go of something that isn’t doing much to help them grow as an individual. At some point, one may come to realize that, regardless of how good or bad something is and what kind of immediate gratification it brings, hanging on to it may ultimately prove to hold them back.

Put effort into things. Let them grow, and watch how they influence your growth as a person. Things transform and change over time, and, if they are not meant to accompany you into the next phase of your journey, let it go with grace and gratitude, knowing that the experience has imparted you with memories and wisdom that will make you a better person for tomorrow and all future endeavors.

Breathe

The other day, I walked into a bar, on a last minute impulse decision, after a particularly long and exhausting day of work. The only thing that I can recall was how much seemed to have gone wrong for me during the day and the week leading up to it–my car’s headlights decided to magically break as soon as I used a turn signal (?), planning periods were spent since no onpeople e needed a break hour anyway, and I wasn’t getting out as often as I needed to be. So, having these things, as well as many others, swarming in my mind, I decided to give in and get a drink for a few minutes and then take off so that I could stay on my schedule. I ended up staying for well over an hour, spending time talking to other bar patrons and employees about daily struggles, humorous experiences, tales from the world of teaching or motherhood, and how we get by in the day to day living cycle. This was notable for me, not just because I was able to relay my own stories to another person or group of people, but because I had finally allowed myself to be in a state of ease not usually experienced in the life that I have currently paved for myself.

More or less, this idea is something that we can all relate to on some level.  We put in so much time and effort into establishing an identity and making a name for ourselves within the working world that we lose track of the things that really define us, and try to make our hobbies and lives (outside of the regular workplace) work around what we do to sustain ourselves–I am guilty as charged, as I have found myself allowing work to become my life rather than a piece to a bigger whole. Many of us may find that we spend more time working at home (outside of the regular workplace) than we do doing the things we love or spending time with the people that we love. Yes, working and having a job is a very important thing for an individual to possess, with reasons mentioned in the above writing. However, with a desire and a growing demand to have everything be above and beyond what is expected, we often lose ourselves looking for that same perfection in the way we work–so much so, that it bleeds over into our personal lives, blurring the lines between one part of ourselves and another, delivering more stress-filled anxiety into a life that loses its spontaneity and adapts more to a one-track beginning and end way of living.

Notably, we also find ourselves losing some form of human connection on an interpersonal level. The same absorption into work and everything of the like drives us to treat everyone we know, colleagues or loved ones, in the same fashion. They all become recurring faces in our daily routine. If they aren’t doing what they’re supposed to be doing, or if they happen to be absent, a tight equilibrium is disrupted and, subsequently, so is the sense of calm that we establish in this case.

This is where the importance of stepping back to take a look at ourselves or to take time to ourselves comes into play. Too often, we are called to devote every fiber of ourselves to the constant demand and fast-pace of the workplace that we forget to look at ourselves and meditate upon where our own well-being stands amidst the grander scheme of things. If we are going to be a part of something that is ultimately bigger than ourselves work wise, why not take a moment to care for ourselves so that we can be more productive? And what about for the people in our lives? How are going to be able to communicate with them in a way that doesn’t come off as technical or un-engaging?

Every one of us is human, and we deserve to treat ourselves as such. Do not cut off the things that help you sustain yourself, but do not let these same things encompass your whole existence. Go to a bar and have a random conversation. Take a window shopping trip with a friend. Set aside thirty minutes or so for the sake of helping someone with chores or homework. Set aside thirty minutes for a call to a loved one or friend. Go jogging. Take a few minutes to just be by yourself and breathe. Write a blog entry. Have that balance, and you’ll be fine.