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I Didn’t Realize How Bad My Anxiety Was Until I Treated My Depression

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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 741741.

At the beginning of my mental health journey, I was so consumed by my depression that I didn’t have any strength and headspace to notice anything else. My days were filled with convincing myself that life was worth living and that I won’t be in the same place forever. Therapy and medication definitely helped me get to a better place. And only then did I realize how bad my anxiety was.

Because I wasn’t so busy trying to keep myself alive, I finally noticed how my anxiety was controlling me. I can’t go to parties. I know that is illogical to most but I dread being surrounded by so many people, having to do activities that seem fun to most but are overwhelming to me. I can’t eat in front of people I don’t know, especially when I’m a guest. I can’t dare go to places I’ve never been to or I’m not familiar with, especially on my own. I need to always prepare ahead of time for any event or activity so I can be prepared for whatever situation might arise. I don’t know how to deal with things when they are not on the list of my predicted situations.

I can’t talk to strangers. I hate casual touches from strangers like when I’m using public transportation where it can’t really be avoided. I avoid meeting friends whom I love. I don’t date casually. I don’t even dare go on dates. I lash out when I’m overwhelmed. I can only choose remote jobs because it lessens the possibility of an anxiety attack or, at least, no one will see if I have one. My mind labels people, places and situations as safe or unsafe and it reacts accordingly to those labels whether it is reasonable or not. My mind convinces me to run away or to escape when a situation is deemed as unsafe, even if that is training for work or a gathering with acquaintances.

I can never turn my mind off or, at least, silence it. There is always something running no matter what I do or where I am. I can’t let go of simple things that should not even bother me. I’m sure there are more, but I’m not even aware that they are due to my anxiety.

I know that you are supposed to overcome your fear by facing it head-on. Then, you will feel the satisfaction that comes when you overcome it. The next time you face it, you will feel a bit more confident. It doesn’t work that way for me. I force myself to face things I deem as unsafe. If I do overcome it, I will feel guilty for getting anxious about it in the first place. Then, if I had to face it again, the same overwhelming fear engulfs me. And I drown again. And just like the cycle that it is, I push through only to feel guilty afterward. Then the cycle repeats. There is no satisfaction in the end for me. Only a feeling of exhaustion.

Recently, my anxiety has been triggered by my training for work. I get extremely anxious because I am not familiar with the things I need to do. I do poorly because I’m too overwhelmed, and the poor results cause me to feel even more overwhelmed. I know I need to move forward and not let it sit on my mind for too long. My anxiety doesn’t allow that. I know that I need to focus on the task, to break things down so as not to overwhelm myself. I try. Believe me, I do try. It’s twice the job trying to perform a task and convincing your mind to calm down and focus. 

I like working and making my own money. I am grateful for everything that is given to me but I would rather work for it myself. I wish my mind would be as determined and as confident as that person not consumed by her disorders. I want to be more, but my disorders limit me. And as much as I want to say that’s not true, it is my reality. I imagine what it would be like without these disorders holding me down like chains. Could I have been more successful? Could I have made more connections? Could I have not missed so many opportunities?

I don’t expect to be treated differently just because I have disorders. I’m also not trying to water down how debilitating it is to have them. I just understand that even though we are now slowly becoming more understanding when it comes to mental health, our society is still not designed for people like me. I hope that one day it will, but for now, people like me need to fit in and adjust. There’s one thing I ask. Be human. And I mean that in the best way. The person next to you in the office may seem like she’s got everything under control when in fact she’s crumbling inside. So be human. There is no need to be mean, or make anyone miserable. Life is hard as it is. The least we can do is not make it harder.

I wrote this down to remind myself, “I am human too.” I will make mistakes, and I will disappoint myself, but I will do better. My anxiety may seem like it’s got control over me right now, but I refuse to let it stay that way. I will control my anxiety, and I will live the life I want. And I will be waiting for the day when I write about those days.

Photo by Lucia Macedo on Unsplash

Originally published: July 11, 2021
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