young woman leaning against wall harsh lighting depression

What It's Like to Live With Both Anxiety and Depression

13k
13k

Living with depression feels like you’re in a dark hole with nowhere to go. Living with anxiety makes you feel like you’re losing your mind.

Depression takes away all of your motivation and drive to do anything, but anxiety makes you want to constantly do that activity.

Depression tells you thoughts such as, “It’s not worth it to get out of bed today,” or “You’re worthless, stupid and no one cares about you.” Even though it is all in your head, you somehow believe it. Anxiety continually throws “what if” thoughts around your head. That is the cruel reality of living with both depression and anxiety.

One makes you not want to do anything, but the other makes you terrified that if you miss something, you will be farther behind than what you already are. Many people don’t understand why people who have depression and anxiety act the way they do. It is because they are constantly fighting with themselves.

I live with depression and anxiety. It is scary to live with one, but I find living with both to be an absolute nightmare.

With my anxiety, it is hard for me to drive to therapy every week. I am constantly overthinking everything, no matter how big or small the activity is. As I drive to therapy, my stomach aches. I get sweaty palms, and my heart race increases. I feel shaky and lightheaded, but I keep driving because I know therapy will help me in the long run.

I am still terrified to check myself in at the front. I am always terrified I will mess up what I am saying, or I will trip on the rug as I walk into the office. I never have, but having anxiety makes it a constant fear. My brain goes off on its own, not listening to me as I try to tell my body to calm down and that everything will be OK. My mind is already making me feel nauseous the closer I get to arriving. It’s not that I don’t love my therapist — I do. She has helped me in so many ways. It is just the fact that I am nervous about telling her everything I have felt since the last time I have spoken with her.

Telling her I have had a bad week is hard enough, but telling her why I’ve had a bad week when nothing is wrong feels absolutely terrible. Why did I have such a rough time this last week? Why do I feel sad and angry when nothing is wrong in my life? Why do I constantly feel like a mistake and feel like I am never good enough for anyone, no matter how hard I try? Those thoughts flood my brain. It is hard enough telling her when I feel suicidal, but why I feel the way I do is even more challenging because nothing is making me feel that way.

Those are just the thoughts going around in my brain at this very moment. Waking up in the middle of the night from a night terror is also terrifying. Nothing triggers it; it is just a bad dream, but my mind goes into fight or flight mode and begins a panic attack. My parents hear me scream and my mom almost always comes running in concern. As my heart pounds against my chest and my whole body shakes from not being able to breathe, I try to explain to her I just had a bad dream.

She goes back to bed, but I don’t. I lie awake, mentally exhausted. She falls asleep, but I don’t. I sit there in my bed for hours, just staring up at the ceiling because my anxiety is whirling thoughts through my head. I freak out about walking into school the next morning. Will I feel any motivation to put on any makeup and wear a cute outfit or will I roll out of bed, put my messy hair in a bun and just put on a pair of sweatpants and a bra? There are mornings when I leave the house looking like death because it was so exhausting just to get out of bed.

Occasionally, I will have a good morning and actually do something with myself. What I enjoy the most about this whole ordeal is the fact that when I walk into the classroom, no one can see how much I am hurting or how tired I am. They only see me, the girl who seems like she doesn’t care. The girl who seems like she has her life put together because she laughs and smiles all the time. I wish I could be both of those, but I am not. I put on a facade, not wanting anyone to ask questions because I don’t know what I would say. Would I lie and say I am OK or would I sit there, break down and tell them what I am thinking and how I really feel?

This is just the sad reality of living with both depression and anxiety, the polar opposites.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via ViktorCap

13k
13k

RELATED VIDEOS

TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

What My Daughter Knows About My Mental Illness

57
57

My daughter knows I thought I hated her just two weeks after she was born. Pure hatred, where using the actual word “hate” is valid and not taboo.

My daughter knows what suicide is. She learned this at age 8 because she overheard something on the radio. She knows I have thought about dying by suicide a handful of times. She knows I was a teenager then, almost 18, a legal adult, only 8 years older than she is now. She knows these ideations have blown into my mind like a breeze and have quickly left several times in the last 20 years.

My daughter knows I am sick. She has seen me at my worst, a vision I never wanted her to lay eyes on. She has seen me shaking, rocking back and forth, nails digging into my head spewing delusions out of my mouth left and right. She has seen the tears, witnessed the dry-heaving runs to the toilet, heard my self-loathing.

My daughter knows I have been hospitalized, twice. She accompanied my parents this latest time when they visited me, being forced to stay in the cafeteria with my father because she was deemed “too young” for the short term psychiatric ward. The hospital feared the patients there would hurt or scare her by saying or doing something. This means they feared I would hurt or scare her, too. She knows the emotional pain one feels when the only communication we had was through a phone… a phone that would cut you off if you moved wrong, a phone so desperately in need of replacement. She understands the hospital is my safe place, when our home is unable to be just that.

My daughter knows she is an only child because of me. She knows I was barely able to raise her in the beginning due to severe postpartum depression and anxiety. She knows at times I have been unable to care for her in the episodes of major depressive disorder since. She knows she lost her little brother, my beloved former foster son, because my illnesses prevented me from being able to function, let alone parent. I became a third child for my husband then, a childlike creature in an adult body that my daughter started to take care of, becoming a Mommy to her own mother.

What I didn’t expect for this wonderful, kind and loving child to learn was acceptance. Every time I had to explain these things, every time I hurt her, I expected anger and rage in return. I expected her to ignore me, shout “I hate you Mommy,” rotating the knife deeper into my back. I expected extreme tears over losing her brother, many more than she shed (and she cried quite a bit). Instead, she shocked me by becoming my protector of sorts, a role I never asked her to take and tell her now she can relinquish. She truly cares if something will affect me, triggering me back to those dark dismal days. She has true compassion and empathy, two traits I am happy she learned, although I wish she learned them with something other than me as the subject. She is the Wise Fairy that her name, Sophia Faye, connotes.

There are so many things she has had to learn at the tender age of 8, 9 and now 10. These things I would have liked to have postponed. I have been called out by a select few saying she was too young for these strong topics. Yes, I know. But, I have to say, if by telling her about being mentally ill, suicidal and hospitalized has made her into the awesome kid that she is today, I am happy she knows. I am happy she knows, because she won’t have to live in the shame and stigma of it if it happens to her. She knows she has a loving mother who has been through hell and back that can help her. And she knows that although at one point I “hated” her, wanting to leave, I couldn’t bare to live without her now. She is my heart, my strength, my love, my Sophia Faye.

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead image via contributor

57
57
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

What It Was Like to Talk About My Mental Illness in Front of Students

82
82

I did a thing today — something I would not have been able to do a year ago. In fact, a month ago — when I was initially approached — I wasn’t sure if I could do it.

My psychologist (I’ll refer to him as Dr. F for this post) is amazing. He has helped me tremendously over the last six months. I’m quite sure I wouldn’t be here anymore if it wasn’t for him. A month ago, he asked me if I would like to speak to the psychology class he teaches at a local college. At first, I wasn’t sure. My anxiety is horrible and even the thought of speaking in front of people terrifies me. The idea I would be talking to people about my depression and mental disorders made me even more anxious. Fortunately, on the original date he asked for, I was not available. The following week was their spring break, but the week after, both his class and I were available. So I agreed, figuring three weeks was plenty of time to prepare myself mentally for what I was going to do. Over the last three weeks, I actually started to get excited about speaking to his class.

This morning arrived and I was both nervous and excited. I met with Dr. F before class to go over what I could expect. He would introduce me to the class and have me give an overview of my story. He would ask me questions and allow the students to ask some also. He asked if there was anything that was off limits for me and I said there wasn’t. He told me I could choose not to answer a question if I didn’t want to, so I knew I had an out if I needed it, which made me feel secure. From there we were off to the school to talk to the class.

I sat at a table in the front of the class — on display, not knowing where to look or what to do with my hands. I checked my cellphone, texted my husband “here we go” and then put it face down on the table next to my soda. It sounds silly, but my soda and my phone on the table gave me something to hold onto when I felt nervous. The class all filed in; it was a smaller group than I had expected, which helped with my anxiety. I won’t lie, my hands were shaking. I wonder if they noticed. As planned, Dr. F introduced me to the class and gave me the floor. I started off with the basics — “Hi, I’m Krista. I’m 32, a wife and mother. I’ve known I was depressed since I was 18, after my grandmother passed away.” From there I told them about the major breakdowns I’ve had, the many medications I’ve tried, the suicidal thoughts, the attempts, how good I am at hiding it from everyone and how I’m doing currently. Dr. F asked some questions and explained some things to the students. A few of the students not only asked me questions but also shared some of their experiences with certain things.

By the end of the class, I realized I wasn’t nervous anymore. I was being completely open about my mental illness and my struggles, and my anxiety was gone. It was an amazing feeling for me. I faced a serious fear of mine and I made it through! After the class was over, most of the students left but a few stayed to talk to me. One of the students, who I had noticed many times during my talk because she was nodding her head along with many of the things I had said, came up to me to me to thank me for coming. She explained it was really helpful for her to hear someone who is going through the same things she is. I connected to her today. I made a difference to her. It was an amazing feeling.

Over the last few months, I’ve been very open with my battles with my mental illnesses. Today, it wasn’t from behind the safety of my computer — it was face to face with real people who could respond to what I was saying immediately. I had no barriers to protect me. It was such a freeing feeling. I’ll be going back to talk to his next class in the fall, and I can’t wait!

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

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 741-741.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via kzenon

82
82
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Why I Keep Fighting My Depression

243
243

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

Sitting at the desk in my room, my head is resting in my hands and my body is shaking as tears escape from my eyes. Finally, my depression is allowing me to release my emotions as the sadness within me has overflowed from inside. Finally, I am uncontrollably sobbing as my numbness has unmasked why it’s easier to hide my inner-demons than allow them to surface and expose their true pain.

Shaking and inconsolable, I can’t help but feel the self-hatred depression and anxiety often force upon me, as the thoughts I’d much rather ignore bubble up to the surface. As I stare at my desk with my tears obstructing my vision, I feel completely powerless and weak. All I hear running through my brain are the voices of the demons, screaming at me.

You’re weak. No one really loves you. You just make life more difficult.

In the moment, I am completely powerless. It seems that my inner-demons are relentless.

You’re disgusting. You’re just taking up space. What’s the point?

By some miracle, that last thought awakens something deep, deep from inside me. At that moment, I feel a small part of myself I haven’t felt since my emotions became numb. I can just barely feel this part of myself, but she is whispering nonetheless, begging me to fight the negative voices that have taken over my brain.

What’s the point? she whispers to me. There are so many points, so many more reasons to hold on than you could imagine. 

With a sheer force of will and a little bit of trust, as I don’t entirely yet believe myself, I consider this reasoning. I am in so much pain, so much misery and some days it feels I will never escape the sadness that is eating me inside. Nevertheless, I am holding on. What is my point? Why am I holding on?

Even when I can’t see it in the moment, there are so many reasons I keep fighting despite the fact some days it feels easier to just hide from the world or succumb to the sadness.

I think of the smile on my lips when I’m walking outside with the sun shining and the small birds chirping and dancing from tree to tree. I think of the small conversations I have or the texts I receive from friends who truly do seem to care for me, even if my depression doesn’t always want me to believe it. I think of the tiny laughs that come from inside me when a small child is giggling and saying “hi” to everyone in their path, or that soothing feeling at the end of the day when I feel as if I have truly accomplished something. I even think of the comfort when a friend compliments me, calling me “their light,” or when someone tells me I have truly helped them through another day. Even when the bad overshadows the good, or when I’m hiding under my covers wishing there wasn’t so much time in a day, I can always count on the tiny glimpses of hope or wonder that flash through my mind, even if I didn’t notice them in the moment.

Standing up from my desk and letting out a huge sigh, I notice the tears have dried from my face and I am no longer shaking. Of course, I am still far from happy, and I expect there will be many more days of numbness and many more breakdowns to overcome. But I will keep fighting nonetheless.

I will keep fighting for the little girl inside me who sees so much good in this world and so many reasons to endure the sadness. I know the inner-demons can’t win and one day, the depression will lift and I will begin to enjoy a world with so many more possibilities than I could have even imagined. I, along with every individual with depression, deserve to enjoy the happiness of the world. Perhaps most importantly, I will keep fighting because there are so many answers to the question “what’s the point?” and those of us with depression are strong enough to fight, endure and free the person we truly are inside.

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

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

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via berdsigns.

243
243
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

When Depression Feels Like 'One Step Forward, a Hundred Steps Back'

135
135

For me, depression is not, “one step forward, two steps back.” It feels so much more like “one step forward, a hundred steps back.” It feels like I’m going nowhere. It feels like any accomplishment at all is followed by a hundred setbacks. It feels like for every one breath of air I’m able to come up for, I’m sucked back down into the depths of the ocean missing a hundred more. It feels like I’m going nowhere.

I have been battling depression for almost five and a half years now. And so often I am plagued with idea it will never get better and I have made zero progress. It sure feels like that sometimes. It is so difficult to see any progress at all when you’re living with depression. Relapses outshine successful days in recovery. The nights are darker than the days. One bad grade makes all the good ones vanish. A sad song is on repeat instead of a happy one. It seems like one moment of happiness that makes it all worth it is followed by a a hundred moments that make me question why I do this every day.

When these thoughts plague my mind, it seems impossible to come back into the light, but one conversation in particular stands out to me when I start to think like this. I texted a girl one night who has been there for me through so much and just always seems to know what to say.

I texted her: “I don’t think I can do this.”

She responded, “Do what love?”

And I said, “keep going. Like idk, I just cannot stand that I’ve been fighting this for so long and I just can’t win. I’ve tried everything. I just don’t get it. I just wish the pain would go away. My heart just literally feels like it’s being dragged across the floor everything is so heavy and I just can’t do it.”

This was her response: “Remember when you didn’t think you’d make it through high school? But you did. And you’ve made it to college. You’re doing so much better than you think and I’m so proud of you. But I know it’s so hard and I’m so sorry you have to continually go through this pain. But you’ll get through. You’re strong love.”

It brought tears to my eyes to read that. Because she was exactly right. Even if I couldn’t see any progress being made, she was right. I had probably sent that same text to her four years ago, when I didn’t think I’d be able to get through high school. But, I did. It doesn’t seem huge, but when I cannot see one bit of progress being made and I’m just stuck, that kind of accomplishment is everything to me. And the reminder of it means the world to me.

I know it’s hard when you feel like you’re going nowhere, when you feel like you just can’t catch a break and you’re being kicked left and right when you’re already down. But, you’re living. You’re breathing. You’re making it through. You’re doing great. Keep on keeping on my friends.

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

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

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via Grandfailure.

135
135
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

The Greatest Gift Depression Has Given Me, a Former 'Happy Girl'

93
93

I have an embarrassing admission to make. For most of my life, I didn’t believe depression was a real, legitimate thing. Don’t get me wrong, I have always known it exists, but as someone who, for the most part, always found it easy to be happy, I believed other people could always also do the same. I dismissed those who were frequently sad – including my own mother – as negative, or simply not trying hard enough. Like most people, I would get an occasional case of the blues – the result of a tough day or receiving some bad news – but I found if I just went for a run or watched a funny movie or played some upbeat music, I could chase away the doldrums pretty easily.

And then, in an instant, everything changed. My parents both died. On the heels of my mother’s death, my maternal grandmother was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s disease. Suddenly, she too, was gone. And in the midst of it all, a close friend from college died suddenly in the gym of his apartment building, less than two weeks after his 31st birthday. A life full of promise cut abruptly short. Just like that.

All of this happened in the space of less than a year. For a while, I was in shock, moving from one tragedy to the next. But eventually, I was forced to confront the person left standing: me. A series of impossible events held a mirror up to my own life and what it reflected back was soul-searing. I was lost, unfulfilled, unhappy, but it was worse than that: I had given up. Given up on my dreams, given up on the idea I deserved to be happy, given up on the person I had always wanted to be. I didn’t recognize myself anymore, and it was terrifying. Confronted with the choice of change or die, I chose to change. And that’s when things got really scary.

I suddenly found myself alone, trying to build a new life from scratch, with no idea what to do or how to start. I was 33, feeling utterly adrift while everyone around me seemed to have their lives figured out – relationships, kids, fulfilling careers.

And that’s when the sadness shifted into something more: depression. For the first time in my life, it was no longer easy to get out of bed. I found social events with even the closest of friends exhausting, and anything that involved meeting strangers was nearly unthinkable. My everyday worries and anxieties became worse. An above average fear of heights turned debilitating. My motivation to tackle even the most basic of tasks was utterly nonexistent. I (once again) took up smoking and continued to smoke even though it made me feel sick, taking some sort of perverse pleasure in how destructive it was. I hated myself.

But I also found something else in my spiral into sadness, something I didn’t expect: empathy. As a former “happy girl,” I never understood the monumental effort it could take someone with depression just to get dressed, to leave the house, to plaster on a smile, to make the requisite small talk that fills life’s daily interactions. But now I did. I understood all too well.

I’m pretty sure people with depression – or at least this person with depression – don’t want to be depressed. If given the chance, they’d prefer to be joyful rather than sorrowful, prefer to find it easy to be with people rather than difficult, prefer to be up, rather than down. Who wouldn’t?

But the thing I never understood until I started wrestling with my own depression was in the face of all of my friends’ well-meaning advice about focusing on the positive and choosing to be happy, for some people, the pursuit of happiness is a constant, ongoing battle. I am tough and relentlessly stubborn. I don’t give up easily and throughout this dark period, I’ve fought. I’ve worked really damn hard, forcing myself to be social when I didn’t feel like it, exercising regularly, practicing gratitude, joining organizations, going on trips, getting involved in my community and doing all the things you’re supposed to do to shift your outlook. But the key words here are “hard” and “work.” I never could have imagined a simple quest to feel lighter could be so damn heavy. That the most basic tasks could spend me as though I’d just run miles through beach sand. That sometimes in spite of my best efforts, there wouldn’t be one single solitary thing that would make any of it better.

But here’s the flip side of sitting with this darkness, of living in it, of trying to learn from it: gratitude. I’m grateful for what my struggle has taught me. Being incapable of walking through this phase of my life as anything other than a broken person has stripped away all pretense and artifice. It has attracted people into my life the old me never would have met, and it has caused me to chase new, different experiences, things the old me never would have done. In my battle to get better, I’ve met some truly beautiful souls – both in person and online through writing my blog. They have known profound pain, pain deeper than anything I’ve experienced. And like me, they too, are doing the best they can.

We all have our particular prejudices, our long-held beliefs, our wealth of experiences that form the framework through which we view the world. Sometimes – as in my case – they can cause us to be too judgmental toward other people, to feel self-righteous about their choices. Human beings are naturally curious and though we want to understand each other, sometimes we don’t, we can’t. What the last couple of years have taught me is there is always more to the story than meets the eye, no one has it easy, and while some of us are better at dealing with hardship, none of us are left unscathed by the joys and sorrows that make up this beautiful, difficult, complicated life.

As a former “happy girl” currently engaged in the battle to get better, I have learned patience, gained self-awareness and discovered the true value of gratitude. But empathy, above all, is the gift my depression has given me.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock photo via RKaulitzki.

93
93
TOPICS
JOIN THE CONVERSATION

Real People. Real Stories.

7,000
CONTRIBUTORS
150 Million
READERS

We face disability, disease and mental illness together.