depression & anxiety: the perfect storm




i've talked about this in small bits in most of my posts. so you could take those pieces and put them together to bring to life this thick, dark fog in my life. but to make it easier, i'll give you a bit of a look inside of that darkness briefly now. 

i'd like this post to be educational - to have a bit more insight into what your loved one is experiencing. i'd like this post to be consoling - if you deal with this yourself, you know you're not alone. 

so here we go then. 

i've always been incredibly sensitive. strangers' sad stories broke my heart and have stayed with me for years. i carry each one like a rock in a backpack. 

i became vegetarian when i was 15, and went vegan over a year ago. i can't stand the thought of innocent animals suffering in any way. 

i remember hurtful things mean girls said to and about me in grade school. scars from unrequited love have changed me. 

so this sensitive little soul went out into the world like a naked body in the middle of a snowstorm. i feel everything. 

things got so dark during my senior year of high school, i finally decided to talk to my doctor. i was diagnosed with major depression and an anxiety disorder. 

as i have mentioned, these things ebb and flow over my life. i've spent years on medication, and years without since this diagnosis. 

winter is always the hardest. it seems that both anxiety and depression come out to play when the weather is this grey. 

other seasons it seems that i'm mostly wrestling with depression symptoms. others it seems to be anxiety only. but when it's both at once, it is absolutely crippling. 

depression tells me i'm worthless, but i don't have the energy to do anything about it. anxiety tells me that i'm wasting my life, that there's so much i should be doing, that i'm not living up to my potential. but i don't have the energy to do anything about it. 

i remember a time last winter, a band i loved was playing a show in a city two hours from me. for a few months i had been planning to go and was going to drive up with a couple of friends. the day came around and for whatever reason i could barely get out of bed. i felt this incredible weight on my chest and it hurt to move. now this isn't exactly a physical symptom, it's deeper. it's flowing in my veins and rattling through my bones. it grips my throat and i can't breathe. 

in the moment, i think that i would rather have a broken leg or broken arm or both. because then at least there's physical proof of my pain. but i digress. 


needless to say i stayed home, and my friends went to the concert without me. i spent the night curled up, alone, crying in the dark. my anxiety berated me ceaselessly. 

i felt pathetic, isolated, broken. 

having both anxiety and depression is like being in the eye of a tornado. everything around you is spinning, but you're stagnant. you're in a straitjacket while your life whips by, leaving burn marks, always threatening to destroy you. 

this is my experience, anyway. 

maybe you've felt this way, or maybe your experience is wildly different. that's the beauty & horror of any illness. it is unique because you are unique. it is a fingerprint, a snowflake, one of a kind. but know this - the colors in the painting of your life may be a fragment of a shade different, but there is someone (most likely many people) who have similar colors, and want to be understood just as you do. 

mental illness is a wild bird we constantly try to harness, but still continues to be uncontainable. someday, i believe, we will get a grip on it. maybe it'll be something like allergies, they'll flare up occasionally, seasonally. but we'll have ways to treat it, and even ways to cure it. it deserves this kind of attention. but i digress.

struggling with depression is painful and real. struggling with anxiety is painful and real. it's as real as a broken bone, as real as chronic pain, as real as every virus we've ever known. 

it hurts and it's hard, but you're not alone. there will be seasons of freedom in your life. springtime peace will pass over you like a cool breeze. cherish that light and hold on. nature thrives on change, and all we can do is ride the wave. let it crash over you and make you new. hold on. 

your story is stunning. there is hope for us, i know it.

xo,
Ashley

Listening to:

25 comments:

  1. your story broke my heart, you're such a strong person to talk about that ashley ! i can't even tell to my mom or anyone else when i'm sad. i always want people sees my smiling face, i don't want they care about me feeling sad, because i always think it's not important, that i'm not important so i keep everything for me.

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  2. this is painfully relatable. winter is always the worst time for me as well, and for some reason the cheer of the holidays always amplifies the feelings that i try so hard to repress.. i just started my first year of college, and the stress of that has only added to this pile of problems. i'm so glad that you posted this. because as much as i hate to see others going through difficulties, reading this and seeing that someone knows how i feel and that they've gotten so far is reassuring and comforting. it takes a lot of bravery to open up about things like this. you did so beautifully, delicately, quietly. thank you <3

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  3. hello-
    i've just discovered this blog today, but i'm sure i'll be a repeat visitor. how you described your anxiety really hit me, because it sounds just like how i describe mine. the constant feeling of not being good enough, of not working hard enough, and so on. this mental health journey is a relatively new thing to me, as i've just come to recognize my symptoms as anxiety with the help of a counselor. it might seem stupid, but hearing someone say what you've been thinking for as long as you can remember is incredibly comforting. thank you so much.

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  4. I became emotional as I was reading your post. Depression, anxiety, and OCD follow me around since I was 3. And like a rope it wraps around my body and tightens more and more. Its very overwhelming and I try so hard to stay alive. I don't take my medication because I don't like the way it feels. My family doesn't comprehend what I go through and believe that going out with positive people or exercise that this will go away. I do that. It doesn't work. This doesn't help.
    You have become my inspiration, truly. I want to write all these emotions on paper and create something people will understand.... But more importantly, that it has meaning to me. For many years, I have been in this world thinking that I am alone and no one knows how I feel. I have been proven wrong. Just like you have helped me, I want to be able to help those who feel alone. Show them, through words, that they don't have to fight this war on their own.

    Thank you so much, Ashley. From the bottom of my heart and soul, thank you. God bless!

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  6. This is perfectly worded, everything i could ever want to say.

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  7. ashley, you have no idea the impact you've had on my life in the few short months that i've been reading your blog. i'm a senior in high school and i've been struggling a lot in the last couple years with dark thoughts, sometimes feeling like i'm not "sad" enough to have depression and other times the feelings are looming over me and i feel like i'm drowning. even though i'm afraid to tell people how i'm feeling and get help, it's comforting to know that i'm not alone in this (although i hate to know that you are struggling too). thank you so much for your bravery, putting yourself out here and sharing your story. much love <3

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  8. i stumbled across your blog a couple of days ago, and i cannot get enough of your words. i have been struggling with anxiety and depression lately, and reading your experience is so comforting because i can relate on a strong level. winter has been hard, with its gray days that make you question life. i'm hoping that spring will come soon with all of its splendor and light, and heal.
    thank you for sharing your story.

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  9. I've gone through much of what you described. Grade 10 was the beginning of my endless fall, and a year later, after the school got concerned over me missing so much school, I was told to get counselling and I did. But I I learned was how to suppress my anxious feelings and thought, not how to move forward. I was later put on medication because of the random panic attacks I started having, and it helped but again, it was only just balling it up and trying to tame the beast.

    I can genuinely say that this is exactly how I would put the feeling of anxiety and depression. I'm always shutting myself out, locking myself into my room and sleeping the days away because my dreams are more eventful than my life. But as I'm doing that, my mind is screaming at me, that I need to get the most out of my life while I am alive. That one day I'm going to regret it all, yet I can't get myself to truly care. I'll get sad and cry about it, but then the cycle will continue.

    Anxiety is a ticking bomb while depression is the aftermath of an explosion.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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  10. My son is almost does not speak and it was the cause of my terrible depression for several years. Just last year I began to gradually get out of this state.

    Read and understand that you are not alone - not an instant cure, but necessary.
    Thank you, Ashley

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  11. It's crazy how much we have in common. Too much to put in one comment. Thank you so much for everything that you are and all that you do. Your very existence gives me so much hope. All the love. <333

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  12. I'm almost in tears reading this post because you've put down in words everything I've felt for the past 16 years. Thank you for being strong enough to tell your story and giving me hope for mine.

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  13. thank you Ashley, for sharing this with us and making us see that we are not alone in what we go through. i can never summon that type of courage; not even enough to tell my parents that i'm feeling sad. so thank you and i wish you good luck through this all. you help me more than you know. <3

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  14. As someone who deals with this, I love how wonderfully you can put it into words, something I have trouble doing. Thank you for your poetry and realness.

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  15. we’re close to the same age i think, and a lot of what you describe hits close to home. i remember specific things people have said about/to me that still haunt me to this day, even after how much i’ve grown. and i still have a lot of growing to do. it seems like anxiety and depression has stunted me in so many ways. i’ve avoided a lot because of it, which is frustrating. it seems to take more energy and courage for me to do simple things that are easy to others, which is humiliating as hell really.

    people in my family have anxiety and depression. i’ve dealt with it since adolescence and it only got worse. i almost waited until it was too late to get help. it can feel especially lonely when people just leave because they don’t know what to say or do to make things better, because there really isn’t anything other than just being there. anything that causes someone to suffer to the point of taking their own life because they feel there’s no other option is a powerful illness that needs to be taken seriously, especially when it can’t be seen. no one chooses to live with this.

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  16. hello, uhm I think this particular post is super important, I know, first hand experience, some people in your life just don't understand how does it feel to live with these two illness and somethimes you can be too immersed into your own mess to put the feelings into the right words; I've spent the past year trying to explain it to my mom, it's been a long and painful process, and I know for sure I'm not the only one going through something like that. just last week I talked to a girl who was super upset because her mom yelled at her while she was having an attack, it was like hearing myself a year ago, I gently tried to remind her that most parents know nothing about mental illness since it was a completely taboo topic until a few years ago so sometimes the best option is, whenever you feel okay/ready, you can educate the people around you, give them something to read, show them a video, give them the change to open their minds.
    I'm telling you this because I think this is a great example, if you're okay with it, this post would be an awesome text to explain them, this post, your words could help someone, who can't find the right words, to make their life a little easier.

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  17. My depression started around 11 when my parents got divorced and I was being bullied pretty severely. I went unmedicated and undiagnosed until I was 14. I'm nearly 19 now and it still affects me, but this blog is one of my greatest comforts. Life is such a struggle when it seems like each nerve ending in your body is exposed for all the world to poke at, but your words seems to soothe the burn. I'm so grateful for you.

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  18. Hi Ashley! Every time I read one of your posts i feel like i am going to cry. Your way of writing is so poetic and emotional. First I want to say to you and all of you who suffered or suffer from depression that I deeply feel for you. I cannot say I know what all of you are going or went through because I never was actually in depression. I know that because even if I felt sad or like I was pointless sometimes it was never as painful and intense as I saw many describe. There was always this light that was able to shine a little on me. I hope you will be able to find this light in you too.

    I could go on and on about this because this deserves to be acknowledged. Your pains deserve to be acknowledged. I was so workded up by that article that I had the need to look into the subject so I looked for testimonies and wrote an article about what I thought was depression and why we should all be concerned about it. Because even if it doesn't touch you it might touch someone close to you. This is my first article about something that important but I really felt compelled to explore the subject.

    Here is the article if you want to check it out: http://hopelessstoryvore.blogspot.fr/2017/01/quest-ce-que-la-depression-what-is.html

    Sorry for any possible mistakes, I am actually French so English is only my second language. God be with you all. You are strong.

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  19. Sometimes a person experiences depression. The main thing is not to sink into it and find a way out. Otherwise it will be very bad.

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  20. I suffer from anxiety and depression as well. They both hit me really hard and I relate to your story a lot. And im only 16. Its terrible to even think about that so many people feel so badly about themselves. especially the younger people such as me. Nobody should ever feel like they are worhtless or want to die. Its terrible, trust me, I know. So I guess what im getting to here, is your not alone. I know you just wrote this entire story saying that WE are not alone, But, somebody needs to say, that YOU are not alone either.

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  21. Wow. Thanks for this Ashley❤ I suffer Anxiety too and I feel pathetic and isolated most of the time.
    It's nice to know that I'm not alone in this😌❤

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  22. I confess that when I finished reading this I was about to cry. This had a great impact on me. I am 13 years old and this year I will start taking medications for depression and anxiety. What you said about winter is very true! Last winter my depression got worse, so much so that I tried to commit suicide. I feel very identified with what you wrote and it's good for me to know that I'm not alone, that there are people who go through what I'm going through. Thanks for writing this Ashley♡

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  23. This might sound idiotic because, you know I'm a ten year old girl that's suffering with depression and anxiety. The main problem is my day and purpose. They say to get rid of the people in your life that are making you feel bad, but there's no way I could get rid of my dad. I've only told one friend and all of my really good online friends know. Its HORRIBLE! Its like your suffocating and there's no way you can fix it. There's no way you can lift your head up from this pillow , its keeping you there. My parents think its just hormones... Its not. Even if I did tell them how I feel they wouldn't believe me, and they'd still just say its hormones, everyone goes through this part of their life. But no, not everyone suffers from mojotr depression and anxiety. Not everyone understands the scars on my wrist. Not everyone understands why I'm always in my room. Not everyone understandsme. Heck I don't even understand me. I'm afraid I'll die before I figure all this out. My depression is telling me, you're not good enough, no one would miss you, do it... While my anxiety is telling me what if I killed myself and there's no where to go after you die, and what if it would make my parents, my friends, and my whole community different. Tøp helps me a lot,everyone hates me cause I obsess over them but they don't know they help me a lot. I tell them they save millions of lives, and all they say is music can't save peoples lives. I don't know how I'm supposed to end this now so... I'm dun.

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    1. Dear young girl, my heart goes out to you. I understand how TOP lyrics can help you, as they do me. But please consider you are loved and I will bet more than you even realize. Keep following this blog and listening to TOP and other inspirational music and know you are loved and needed in this world. Your pain will get better - we just don't know when. I wish I could give you a big hug and let you know how precious children are to their parents even if you don't see it. I don't know your situation but keep trying to fight it. You are special in this world. You really are.......

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  24. I dealt with depression for over 20 years. Tried several anti depressants with not much luck. Then I heard people at work talking about thyroid disease and I felt I should be tested. I had to push hard for a couple of years for my PCP to refer me for testing. Turns out I have Hashimoto's, which I had never heard of before. Hashimoto's can cause depression, anxiety, cause patients to be diagnosed bi polar and other mental diseases. I felt much better after I researched and discovered diet has a lot to do with lowering the attacks on my thyroid and depression. I think it is important people realize there are diseases like Hashimoto's that cause anxiety and depression. I follow a paleo diet now and feel better. I still suffer with anxiety and depression, but I also have a horrible relationship with my daughter recently that causes my anxiety and crying spells worrying for her. I find it hard to get out of bed every morning and worry what will happen to my daughter - she is 28 - and people tell me to stop worrying she has to learn on her own. It is hard when we used to be SO close. I had someone at work ask me last week what was wrong with me lately that they could tell I was weighed down by something so we talked about my daughter. It helped, if only for a while, to talk about how horrible it is. Sometimes I even call in to work cause I can't stop crying with worry or I cry at my desk. I wanted to point out sometimes situations cause depression and anxiety, sometimes it is a mental illness in which there is no shame, but sometimes it is a disease like Hashimoto's in which you can get better especially with diet and sometimes-probably a lot- a combination. I wish all doctor's would test for this disease as it can cause symptoms for decades before it effects your TSH level and then it could be too late to resolve it by diet and also medicine. I have learned to never judge anyone when they seem down and just try to be there if they need to talk. It actually helps distract from the problems I have that seem won't go away - but I have people who depend on me and my dogs. I am glad I found your blog through my love of TOP and how I keep telling myself by listening over and over - NOT TODAY. Life has to get better. Thank you for your words and sharing. Your family must be so very proud of you. I can't wait to read more of your writings. Written with love.

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