Here is my fourth essay, of seven, about my experiences with depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts, as well as tools, resources, and inspirations. I hope they help, and that you know you are not alone. Suicide is preVENTable, so let’s vent together. Talk it out!
My Experience: A couple of years ago, I made the decision to go on medication to help me with my anxiety and depression. For so long, I had avoided medication because I believed that if I could just be more disciplined, I could get better on my own. If I could just be stronger. If I could just be better. I believed that medication was a sign of my own weakness. However, an incident occurred that made me understand that I had been strong long enough, and that asking for help was its own kind of strength.
I have always had what are called, “worry fantasies”. These are daydreams that I have, and they often cause anxiety or fear or sadness in me. They usually involve something terrible happening to myself or someone I love. I call them emotional cutting, and sometimes I indulge in them just to feel something, because I’m so numb from depression.
Two years ago, I met a man on a plane. He was friendly… a little overly friendly for my tastes. Not in a sexual way, but I tend to be reserved and like to keep to myself. We were speaking about my work in housing, and towards the end of the flight, he asked for my phone number. I can’t remember why… it had something to do with my work. And for some ridiculous reason, I gave it to him. After getting my bags and heading home, I began to obsessively worry about that bad decision and that guy. I don’t know why, but my mind began to obsess on him coming to hurt me. Eventually, my mind began to obsess on him coming to my home and hurting my husband and daughter. I no longer wanted to leave the house because of the overwhelming anxiety and fear. I did, but I would panic each time. This is when I knew I was out of control and needed help. I told my husband what was happening, and that I had decided to go on medication. I also told my brother. It was embarrassing. Humiliating. I felt like a crazy person. But telling was the right thing to do, and the first step to helping myself. Just as writing all of these posts are. The medication helped immensely. My worry fantasies lessened to nearly non-existence. I worried that medication would only mask my issues, and only help me to avoid them. I was wrong. Medication has allowed me some room to breathe. It’s helped me think more clearly so that I can tackle my issues head on.
My Tools: As I mentioned, my third greatest tool has been going on medication. It is a very personal decision, not to be taken lightly. There are downfalls to the medication. In some ways, my emotions are muted. But, for me, they’re not gone. I just have to work harder to bring the right ones into focus. Medication has made a tremendous difference for me, and I’m glad I took the leap of faith.
How To Give Support: When it’s more than you can handle, then it’s time for you to ask for help. This is just as true of someone caring for an individual living with depression, as it is for the person living with the illness. You aren’t failing your loved one if you are at a loss of what to do, or if you’re at the end of the line of your capabilities. It’s ok to ask for help. Sometimes that is the best way you can support a loved one. This article talks a little more about how to help your loved one, and ways to get your own support at the same time.
Resources: ADAA, or Anxiety and Depression Association of America, is helping to bring awareness and improve the diagnosis, treatment and cure for survivors. Also, Freedom From Fear is a wonderful mental illness advocacy group.
Share It Forward: “The more people share their experiences with depression, the more others suffering from the condition realize they’re not alone,” says Kat Kinsman, author of this enlightening piece, Going Public with Depression, on CNN.com. She also includes links to other articles/podcasts/etc. at the end.
Here is another comic that I can identify and laugh with. The work done by Brian Gordon, of Fowl Language Comics, always seems to connect with me.