In a recent post, I said that I have anxiety and depression. It’s nothing new for people who know me, or follow me on other platforms, but it’s not something I’ve actually addressed here. It’s not something I’ve really been hiding, I’m quite comfortable with talking about it now. That’s not always been the case though.
I think I really started thinking about talking about it openly on here after seeing a post by Kelly at VampyVarnish on Instagram. I think this sort of this is very important to talk about. Mental health is still often viewed with a stigma and is still not very well understood, especially in the general population. People speaking out about it on social media is an excellent way to spread awareness.
I’ve had depression (or at least it had been recognized and treated) since I was around 17, about 7 years now. As for anxiety, I think I’ve had that for a lot longer. It really explains how I’ve thought and acted for quite a long time, even since my childhood.
When I was young, in middle school and high school, I thought having depression meant you wanted to kill yourself. Many people believe this because it is not something that is broadly taught. Depression comes in so many forms, far beyond sadness and thoughts of suicide. Symptoms include tiredness, insomnia, feelings of worthlessness, loss of interest in things you like to do, aches and pains, stomach and digestive issues, irritability and much more.
Usually my depression and anxiety is pretty well under control thanks to daily medication and a good support system. Even then though, it has a daily toll. Often it goes along with tiredness. Depression and anxiety can be exhausting. If I’m not physically tired at the end of the day, chances are I am mentally and I’m not in the mood to work on stuff. Of course, that’s not exclusive to mental illness, but is the case for me.
A lot of times I avoid social interaction, and not just everyday stuff. A lot of times it’s even with my friends, whom I love very much. I’ll make plans and then wont keep them…even make up excuses for not following through. I love these people, but being around people in general can exhaust me. Many times there are things that I really want to do and plan to do, but then by the time I get to them…nope, not anymore.
As for anxiety, that’s a monster in itself. It’s caused everything from paranoia to intense feelings of self doubt and low self esteem. That, coupled with an emotionally and otherwise abusive stepfather for years had crippled my feelings of self worth. I really believe that my anxiety is just as much caused by him as it is caused by my brain. He’s left me permanently scarred and I was hateful and bitter for a very long time. Luckily, I’ve rebounded from much of that with the help of loved ones.
I still have everyday excessive anxiety though. I constantly think about things like – did I lock the door? Was what I said to them wrong? Are they going to hate me if I say this? Oh God, I did that embarrassing thing last week and now I’m going to think about it nonstop. Did I put the car in park?
I hate talking on the phone. I basically script what I’m going to say when I make a phone call. I often do that when talking to strangers or acquaintances too. I’m terrible at small talk. I’m terrible at communicating in general. I get irritated very fast. I crave attention and then don’t want any part of it. I feel needy but then guilty often. I don’t like to bother people.
I take a lot of stuff personally, even though I know it’s not meant that way. I’ve gotten better at not doing that, especially because I work in a kitchen. I hang on to things for a long time and bottle my feelings up. I read into absolutely everything people say (thanks to the emotionally manipulative stepfather) and constantly ask people if they’re ok, ask if they’re mad at me, and say I’m sorry.
I owe a lot of my healing to my current boyfriend, JB. He has been incredibly kind, patient, and nonjudgmental in the almost year we’ve been together. He’s been a good friend for almost 3 years now and has helped me deal with my abuse even before we began dating. I’ve been through a lot of shit and he understands that. It’s not easy but he helps me through things. He doesn’t view my depression and anxiety as a problem per se, he sees it as a part of me because that’s what it is. It will never go away, I will deal with this for the rest of my life. At a certain point I realized that this was the truth and I couldn’t run away from it. It is part of me and when I accepted that, it truly helped somehow. It’s just like any other scar, though not physical. It’s a reminder of what I’ve been through, and while that’s not always a good thing, it reminds me that I made it out alive.
I’ve been on a few medications and not all of them have worked. Medication is something that varies on the person and you really have to be patient with it. It’s hard to do. I was first put on Zoloft which helped while I was a teenager until I was 22. At some point in during that time period they gave me Klonopin, which absolutely did not work. It knocked me out so quickly and I slept through Thanksgiving dinner.
I was off Zoloft for a brief period after I graduated college. I felt so great after that, I didn’t have to stress about college and I didn’t need my medication for my stomach ulcer for a great while too. A couple months after that I started to regress. I didn’t notice it until much later but I became very depressed and apparently very angry. Eventually I went to my doctor and got back on the Zoloft. I felt better but shortly afterwards I started feeling empty and emotionless. It was like I just didn’t care about doing stuff. I didn’t want to do the stuff I loved. I didn’t care that my house was a mess. I thought it was just depression but my doctor said it was the Zoloft causing my empty feeling. She lowered my dosage of Zoloft and put me on Wellbutrin. I remember feeling like a completely new person after that. It was amazing.
That was my regimen until about 2 weeks ago. I started feeling more anxious and tired again, but I blamed it on the rough couple of months I’ve had. I’ve also had on of the common side effects from SSRI medications, such as Zoloft, which was a decreased sex drive. It coincided with when I was put back on the Zoloft. I talked to my doctor about both of those things and she prescribed me Lexapro.
It was a rough week and a half adjusting to the Lexapro. I was often in “zombie Manda” mode, as my friend and coworker dubbed it. I was feeling in that kind of empty and “I don’t give a shit” mood. Then one day I just snapped back and I’ve felt great since.
Since then I’ve been on a pretty big blogging kick, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. I’m also drawing a lot more than I used to.
It’s been a very long and difficult journey for myself but I hope that maybe I can help someone like myself by talking about this.