Living with Anxiety and Depression
Hello, my lovely readers! I hope you guys are doing amazing and surviving out there in this crazy world we live in. This week’s blog is going to focus on the concept of how anxiety and depression contribute to our thoughts and emotions in our daily lives. It can be extremely hard to balance out both our anxieties and our depressive habits/episodes. Sometimes it may almost seem like each side is fighting against the other…side #1 being anxiety and side #2 being depression. I can empathize with how stressful and exhausting this may feel. Often times, I find myself bickering back and forth in my head due to these two conditions. One minute I’m convincing myself to get out of my comfort zone in order to make myself feel happier and proud that I tried something new…and then next minute my anxiety steps in and I go through all the motions of “What If’s” and worst-case scenarios. This is just a general idea of what it feels like for me. This may not be the same for you. With that being said…I’m hoping I can provide a few tips on how to balance out anxiety and depression as a whole. I am in no way qualified to give medical advice when it comes to these things, but I do feel like I can give some general insight on how to manage your anxiety and depression apart and together.
Over the years, I have reached an understanding of my anxiety and depression. I'm pretty sure that I am high-functioning when it comes to my mental health conditions, and I feel that a lot of people don’t understand how my mind works because of this. To be honest...I don't understand my mind most days though either. Thankfully, my anxiety and depression are not too severe. I can only imagine what it must be like for those of you who have more severe symptoms and mental health conditions. Although, I would like to mention that if you are a high-functioning anxious or depressed individual, it may be hard to feel empathy, validation, or understanding from others. I want you to know that you are not alone and that it’s okay to feel a little “lost” sometimes. Whatever you are feeling in these moments is valid and it is beneficial for you to approach each situation with kindness. In this scenario, I feel like the more transparency you show towards yourself and others about your mental health moments, the more you will be able to learn and prepare for when you have those really, really tough mental health experiences. I believe that every tough experience holds the power to learn about your level of mental health and how you can manage your anxiety and depression in healthy ways.
Personally, I have noticed that my anxiety has gotten a lot more prominent over the last couple years. It all began with the onset of the pandemic and, in all honesty, I blame it on the impacts the pandemic has left us with as well. However, there have been a few other big events that definitely impacted this as well. Overtime, I have found that the one coping strategy for my anxiety has been identifying my triggers. I have found that when I can learn and identify my triggers, I feel like I have more “control” over certain situations or reactions. Of course, we will develop new triggers as our lives move forward. At the end of the day, we are all human and we are always, always learning about ourselves and life around us. I think that once you make it a habit of identifying personal triggers regularly it will become easier to find them overtime due to the increase in your self-awareness.
We can identify our triggers alone or with help from a family member, friend, or professional. It’s totally okay to talk to a professional when you need a little more support than what you or your best friend can provide in terms of mental health and long-term strategies. Some common triggers may be:
o Stressful workplace environments
o Side effects of medications
o Chronic illnesses
o Other mental health conditions
o Childhood mistreatment
o Trauma of any sort
Identifying triggers is more of a long-term strategy to help you reduce anxiousness or to help you learn how to heal any trauma that may be living in your mind rent free. If you are looking for something more short-term to help your anxiety in the moment, I have found that breathing techniques and meditation have helped me the most.
I remember when I first started working at Starbucks and my anxiety was through the roof. I swear my mind was on a different dimension at times. I have this very vivid memory that I always reference when I am trying to understand my personal development in the workplace and with my mental health. It was around Christmas time back in 2019. If you didn’t know…
Starbucks gets INSANE around Christmas time. It was something I could never imagine until I was put in that situation. I remember making drinks at the espresso bar and being so stressed and so anxious that my whole body was shaking and my hands could barely hold the milk steaming pitcher. I had all of these beady eyes on me (because I was making drinks for the people in the café…and let’s just say this was happening pre-pandemic so there were no restrictions) and I just remember thinking to myself, “I can’t stop my hands from shaking, my body is trembling, I am about to cry, and how much longer is this going to happen for?” Mind you… I was pretty new to this job, and since I grew up in the boondocks, working in the city was a whole new learning experience. Overtime, I found that practicing breathing techniques and meditation showed the greatest benefits for me in those times of high stress in the workplace and in my daily life. I find that these short-term strategies have helped me in many cases just to get through the present moment and to feel some relief. Some other strategies you can adapt as well are:
o Aromatherapy (lavender and chamomile)
o Walking in nature or being outside
o Reducing caffeine intake and/or switching to herbal tea’s
o Positive self-talk
I understand that these strategies may not be accommodable in certain situations. If that is the case, I highly suggest doing your best to ground yourself in some way and to focus on getting through the situation minute by minute, half hour by half hour, or even hour by hour. Give yourself something to focus on and try your best to practice your breathing techniques. I find that sometimes giving myself mantras or positive affirmations to repeat to myself help too. Not always but sometimes.
I will admit that I find my anxiety causes a lot more discomfort than my depression does, sooo I feel that I am less aware of coping strategies for my depression. I am still on the road to understanding my it completely. I definitely feel like I go through mini episodes here and there but I just don’t realize it because it just feels “normal” at this point. The main indications of my depression include unusual fatigue, trouble with sleeping, feeling empty or worthless, and thinking of loss/death more than the average person. I’m sure there are others but I feel that these are the most prominent in my life. I find that expressing myself creatively, exercising, and increasing my vitamin intake have all helped me cope with this condition. Personally, I have never been prescribed any anti-depressants. I feel that my symptoms are not severe enough to get medically involved. However, I do believe that in some cases it is absolutely necessary in order to maintain personal well-being and happiness levels, especially if nothing else seems to work or help relieve the symptoms. I think there is such a stigma behind pharmaceutical medication for mental health. I truly believe that people need to be more open-minded. I feel like anti-depressants have made such a positive impact on people's lives, and they should be de-stigmatized along with mental health conditions themselves. "Everybody is different and has different needs"...that is what we "preach" right? I think it would be best if people would actually try to understand how that goes for literally everything in life. However, I understand it's easier said than done.
Although I haven’t personally mastered coping with my depression…I do have a few ideas on how you/we can possibly help yourself/ourselves when symptoms arise:
o Consistently taking vitamin D supplements
o Talking to a therapist
o Maintaining social connections
o Incorporating more physical activity
o Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule
o Consistently using a creative outlet to express your feelings and emotions
o Trying to stay away from substance use and unhealthy habits
o Maintaining nutrition and nourishment (at minimum maintain caloric intake)
Like I said in the very beginning, it may be extremely hard to manage both of these conditions all at once because they tend to clash together a bit. I feel that it is important to remember that every step forward is still a step forward…or in other words you have to take life one bite at a time. It is good to have expectations in order to motivate yourself to become your own best version, but please, try your best to remind yourself of the small victories and the hard work you put into healing your trauma and mental health. As long as you are doing the best you can each day that’s all that matters. It is not a race, nor will it ever be. If you do things slow and the right way for YOU the first time…the rest is history. You will eventually become more and more accustomed to what coping strategies work best for you and how you can heal after new episodes or triggers arise.
I want y’all to know how much faith and belief I have in all of you. I am so proud of the individuals you are becoming and growing into. No matter what age you are…we are forever evolving creatures and there will always be new things to encounter. I believe in you and your journey life is taking you on. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for support.
I am only a message away. Thank you again for reading. Cheers! xx
(P.s. I hope you don't mind me smothering you with my good intentions and love lol)