10 Things I Wish My Family and Friends Understood About My Anxiety and Depression

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When Waking Up Brings Anxiety

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I am far from being a morning person. If I could, I would sleep till late afternoon so I didn’t have to face them. I know I can’t, so I drag myself out of bed and get myself to work. Some mornings are tougher than others. Some days, the anxiety has my stomach in such a tight vice I cant move.

I think many will agree that mornings aren’t fun, but this can be exacerbated for someone with anxiety. My bed turns into a safe zone. Tucked away beneath my covers, the world is only a hazy reality. I know it’s out there, but my worries seem slightly more manageable from the safety of my bed.

I forgot for a while what that felt like. I thought somehow I had escaped waking up to the anxiety-driven dread that makes it near impossible for me to get out of bed. I woke up this morning feeling that way. Anxiety and depression never fully go away, I’ve discovered. Sometimes, things happen in life that can make it come back; sometimes it may show up for no reason.

The best thing I can do on those mornings I can barely get out of bed is to face my fears and take those first few steps out of bed. It’s terrifying, but I’ve found somehow once you get out and face the world, you can realize it’s not as bad as you thought it might be. I can do it, we can do it, and it’s going to be OK. I promise.

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When Having Anxiety Means You Are Often 'Busy' Trying to Cope

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“I was busy; but not in a way most people understand.

I was busy taking deeper breaths.

I was busy silencing irrational thoughts.

I was busy calming a racing heart.

I was busy telling myself I am OK.

Sometimes, this is my busy — and I will not apologize for it.”

— b. oakman, “Anxiety Doesn’t Knock First”

So, today I was”busy.” Most every day, I am “busy.” I’m really not sure why this has to happen at the most inappropriate times. All I know is I feel very sad and very lonely. I often say to myself, “How do you feel lonely, Kelly? You have five children, a boyfriend, and a mother and sister who text or call a million times a day.” I try telling myself I’m not alone, but it doesn’t work; the loneliness just intensifies. I am lucky in the sense that I understand what is happening, and I try reaching out for help from anyone I can at that particular time. Today, I tried reaching out, only there was nobody available.

I went out hoping it would calm me, but it didn’t. I had no other choice but to reach out, so I parked the truck and tried contacting friends and family. All I need is someone to talk with, to tell me everything will be fine and I’m safe — just someone to remind me I’m OK. As I started texting in hopes of reaching someone, everyone was busy with their own day-to-day lives, which is completely understandable. I don’t often say when my anxiety has taken control of me, because I don’t want to inconvenience anyone.

After trying to calm myself for an extended period of time, my sister finally called and managed to somewhat calm me. It seems my sister is the one person who can calm me. I am and will be eternally grateful to her, but I feel like such a burden. She has her own life, and then I call and she drops everything to help me. I feel like I probably cause her anxiety, and I’m so sorry for that. I feel like a burden to so many. I feel like people say, “Oh gosh, it’s her again; it’s always her. Does she think everything revolves around her?” I wish I could handle the anxiety and depression on my own; god knows I have tried, but I can’t. I don’t believe it makes me weak. It takes a lot of energy to go through an episode; it mentally and physically takes everything out of me. Once these episodes pass, it can take a day or two to recover. I am usually exhausted and have feelings of guilt for days. Add to that five children and an infant who is still not sleeping through the night, and I am yearning for sleep.

I never know when these episodes will happen. It seems things just build up inside and decide to explode when I least expect it. It’s the calming down that’s the hardest for me. With Christmas last month, I struggled a little harder. I struggled to pay my bills. I struggled to buy Christmas gifts, I struggled with not being with four of my children at Christmas (for the first time in their lives, which was 11 years). I struggled with my family being separated at the one time of year when I feel families are supposed to be together. I’ve had to struggle with emails from my lawyer’s company wondering when I’m going to make a payment. I struggled with the fear of my cancer returning and reliving those days over and over in my head. I could list the struggles for days, but where does that get me? It gets to a place of being “busy,” and “busy” is not where I want to be. I long for the day that anxiety and depression are no longer a part of my life!

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A version of this post originally appeared on myunexpectedjourney2016.

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Subtle Ways Anxiety Affects Your Daily Life

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We asked The Mighty’s mental health community to share one subtle way anxiety affects their daily lives.

Read the full story.

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When You're Anxious About Death, but Also Suicidal

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Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.

I’ve always, always been anxious. My whole 22 years on this Earth have gone by in between fantasies of possible catastrophes and nail bitting. With that being said, it’s clear why I don’t like planes that much. I adore traveling and I’ve been lucky enough to get to know many places, but that involved (for obvious reasons) getting on an airplane after hours and days of struggling with that. Because the mere idea of flying wakes up millions of scenarios in which my anxiety convinces me I’m going to die tragically in a plane accident. I know the statistics, I’ve seen them; I know I’m safer in a plane than in a car. But still, it’s a risk. It represents danger, therefore my mind will take this and explore all the possible things that could go wrong.

I’m used to that. But thanks to a major depressive episode, I’ve never been as suicidal as I’ve been in this ultimate stage of my life. So when I went to my psychiatrist’s office and he asked me, “How are you feeling towards your upcoming trip?” I found myself confronted with a whole new universe.

I’m leaving to Europe for a couple of days next week. And as amazing as that is, that means being on an airplane for over nine hours. Panic rises. For a whole week now, I’ve been imagining how many things could possibly go wrong in the flight and how many ways I can possibly die. Thanks, anxiety, for those vivid catastrophes playing over and over in my mind. Anyone with anxiety can probably understand how this causes me numerous panic attacks, nausea and profound fear, and basically my only wish is to cancel the trip and hide in my bed until I feel safe.

Interestingly, though, I’m also suicidal. Therefore, the idea of tragically dying in the middle of the ocean by a plane crash doesn’t sound so bad. It’s like the suicidal me is feasting on my anxieties and panic-attack-inducing, catastrophic imaginings. This is new. I feel like I’m a walking contradiction.

So the only thing I could tell my psychiatrist, laughing from the confusion, was, “I’m terrified of dying in the plane, and I also want it so bad.” Because that’s how it is. It makes absolutely no sense, as I’ve found with many things in the mental health world. And I feel like my brain and energy are being torn apart between two opposite poles: the one that, with absolute fear and panic, feels in jeopardy and wants to preserve my life — and the one that thinks it’s all too much and would like to push an “exit game” button.

I’m writing this not because I have an answer or a solution or an idea on how to deal with this irony. I do it because there’s so much literature on the relationship between depression and anxiety, but I’ve found little on suicidal tendencies due to depression and the relationship of this symptom with anxiety and its own baggage. And the reality is it can be exhausting to be living this irony. I’ve found it’s one of the many “perks” of battling anxiety and depression at a time.

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If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

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Resisting the Urge to Run Away From Anxiety

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Remember that time I almost had an anxiety attack in my Body Flow class?

Let me explain. Body Flow is one of my favorite classes at the gym. It gives me an hour to escape from myself, to breathe, to follow the voice and movements of someone else, to enjoy and mainly to relax. Relax being the key term. (Granted, we are working muscle groups. So gaining strength is an added bonus.)

There I was, breaking into a sweat within the first two warm-up songs. I immediately wanted to turn the fans way up, but I resisted, thinking surely the other 15 people in the room weren’t sweating like I was. The music was loud, with the noise in my head competing to be heard.

The instructor’s voice sounded like rocks being thrown against a wall, and the movements seemed stiff. My body was rigid and unwilling to give in and loosen up as we moved in unison, all arms, legs, minds and bodies supposedly freeing themselves of all distractions.

I kept going, hoping it would go away, wishing I had taken my medication before I walked into the class, knowing I was already amped up from the events of the day. I tried to tune into the instructor’s voice, knowing I needed to focus on something to lower the volume in my head. I forced my body to go through the motions despite wanting to run out, take my medicine and come back in when I was dialed back to what is my normal.

My mind reached back to what my therapist repeatedly told me: I had a choice. I could endure the anxiety or I could flee it. Believe me when I tell you, the urge to flee was so incredibly strong, like running a marathon and pushing yourself the hardest with those last few strides until you cross the finish line. However, I was stronger than it. I chose endurance.

I knew if I kept moving, if I kept my mind occupied listening to music and the instructor, throwing my body and mind into the present moment, then just maybe the anxiety would subside. Sure enough, a couple of songs later, it was just about gone.

For me, anxiety is about endurance, about not knowing what each day will bring. Being armed with that uncertainty, owning it and knowing I have a choice if it does decide to show up. This time, in that moment, I was stronger than it. For me, that’s one step closer to living with it.

How do you endure your anxiety on a daily basis?

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