When Anxiety and Depression Are an Unwelcome Surprise

You wake up and it’s a normal day. You groan because your bed is so comfortable and you don’t want to leave, but you get up anyways. You eat your normal breakfast and leave for work on time. Everything is normal, just any other day. The subway is on time and you get to work five minutes early. You sit down at your desk, say hello to your coworkers and get started with your day. Time passes at a normal pace and then you take your lunch. You have packed a healthy meal and thoroughly enjoy it. Everything is normal. Everything is fine. You head back to your desk and get back to work.

Twenty minutes later, you can’t breathe. You bite your lip to hold back the tears. You try to take deep breaths. You smile when your boss asks you a question and somehow respond appropriately despite the fact your insides are crumbling. You don’t know whether to run or not, you aren’t even sure you can move. Your panic turns into more panic as you worry why you’re worrying. You worry about the fact you have nothing to worry about. There was no trigger. No big event. Nothing to make you feel trapped, scared and alone, but you still feel that way. You chastise yourself and ask what the hell is wrong with you.

Suddenly, it is calm again. You are breathing and everything is fine. You get angrier with yourself. You tell yourself you are weak and crazy and should not be so pathetic. You feel so alone.

This is what life is like when anxiety hits you out of nowhere.

Life with depression is rather different. Your day starts very much the same. But instead of the heart racing, breathless feeling that comes out of nowhere, you get emptiness. You get numbness instead of a racing heart. Instead of not being able to breathe, you just wish you didn’t have to anymore. The symptoms differ but they hit you the same way, without warning and without cause. They hit you like a brick wall. While this may not be everyone’s experience with anxiety and depression, it is mine. It’s not always this sudden and not always so short-lived, but for me those moments where it hits out of the blue are the hardest.

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