As I mentioned in my previous post I am starting a series on Anxiety. It is a subject which, truthfully, I didn’t know much about until I suffered from it myself.
It’s one that we hear a lot about nowadays. There are some amazing people who are trying to share their experiences with anxiety (and depression) to try and help others, such as Matt Haig. What I love about this is that first of all, it is someone who is being open and honest about what he has been through. And secondly I love that he is a man sharing what he’s been through.
In 2017, it was reported that in the UK men were still three times more likely to commit suicide then women, and in the Republic of Ireland it’s four times more likely. With the age group being men who are aged 45 – 49. And whilst in 2017 the overall rate in male suicide dropped by 30%, in Scotland it increased for the third consecutive year. (All of these facts can be found on the Samaritans website.) So what is causing this? Is it social media? Pressures from life that weren’t there before? Society?
My Anxiety and Depression
I spend a lot of my time reflecting – which I believe is not the best idea but I can’t help it. It’s part of who I am. I do understand why it’s important to be in the moment but bear with me.
Since a young age I’ve been very prone to depression, really dark depression. My first ’bout’ of it started when I was ten. It started off with the thoughts that I’m sure a lot of people have around that age. I’m stupid, I’m fat, I’m ugly, I’m worthless. My internal voice was a bitch. Sadly I couldn’t quiet it down. This is despite numerous friends trying to help me out of it. Truthfully I didn’t come out of it until I was around 15 years old. I still felt these things about myself but the voice was quieter. It definitely felt like quite a self-actualising mantra though. Because I did think I was fat, so I ate, and ate, and ate! Because I did think I was thick I didn’t bother trying at school. Because I did think I was worthless I couldn’t understand why people wanted to be friends with me. As I said by 15 I had come out of it a bit, or at least learned to hide some of it. But I was ‘happier’ in general and really enjoyed my late teen years.
Then I turned 20 and again for around 5 years suffered from depression. This time I’m sure it was due to numerous factors, including my friend committing suicide when he was 21, moving from my home to Edinburgh and feeling incredibly home sick, not really sure about what I was doing with my life (I changed what I was studying half way through my first year,) making new friends and trying to figure out who I actually was as a person. Then at 25, I was studying to be a primary school teacher, I had friends who I knew were forever friends. The voice which still said cruel things to me was starting to quiet down, with a bit of help from a counsellor, who basically told me that saying those things to myself was like dripping poison. It struck a chord with me. Helped me. My confidence began soaring and by my 28th year I was what I would call ‘happy.’ Truly happy.
Like clockwork, my 30th birthday and boom. I was struck again but this time depression had a friend, anxiety. It was so much worse thatn ‘just depression.’ The overwhelm, the panic attacks on my way to work, the self-doubt coming flooding back, the fear. So many different aspects but never sure which one was going to hit. And yeah from the outside my life may have looked absolutely perfect but, much like everybody else, it wasn’t and isn’t – cause there is no such thing! Now I’m reaching my fifth year in the decade and I can feel myself rising out of the depression but I cannot shift the anxiety. It sits heavily on my chest and can strike at any time! I’m working on it though. With things like my blog, crafting, reading, writing. Trying to repair friendships that I’ve possibly neglected over the last few years, nurturing new friendships, trying to tell myself that I do deserve people’s friendship, that I do have something to offer others and trying to focus on the good. So I am going to try to bring back my ‘3 things I’m grateful for’ on my Instagram stories to keep focus.
Next month, in part two of my series, I’ll be looking at different activities people use to help them deal with their anxieties. I’ll create a list people can use for when they feel the cold hand of anxiety creeping up on them.
Do you suffer from depression or anxiety? What do you do to help calm the storm inside?