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On Depression & Anxiety

A rumble tore through the airplane during my flight into Newark as it approached the airport on a crisp March evening. This didn’t feel like your typical turbulence and it continued for a few minutes. Husbands gripped their wives and vice versa. I should’ve been scared, but I wasn’t. Yet, the reasoning couldn’t have been worse. My vacation week was over and I wasn’t excited to get back to my typical grind. I had never really decompressed and gotten my head out of the game to just enjoy my family and the warm weather the vacation provided. While self-confidence has never been my strong suit, this was a new low: I wasn’t praying for my life, I almost wanted that plane to go down. That was the night I realized I had to change my thinking and less than a year later I’ve never been in a better place. ::knocks on wood::

Depression and anxiety are each terrible and so hard to deal with. They’re embarrassing by their nature and each compound one another so that once you realize something is wrong, it’s tougher to ask for help than when you’re thinking rationally.  I decided I needed help and that I would reach out to a professional to talk with on a regular basis and that I needed to really take a look at why I always felt so afraid and unhappy. Both methods yielded quick success. A list was made of the good things and the bad things going on in my life. The former was long, while the latter was short. At that point I knew my biggest issue in life was me and the depression and anxiety I had put on myself. Now (approximately May 2017) was the time to fully embrace being myself and to take advantage of the opportunities my hard work could afford me.

A few weeks later I went off to the High Sierra Music Festival and began an upswing that continues through the present. I haven’t had a bout of fear and panic or felt doom and gloom since I decided to face my depression and anxiety head-on. Each day feels like a gift, I soak in each and every one of the amazing musical and career experiences by keeping myself in the present instead of letting my head wander to stuff I can’t control.

In general, I’ve finally realized my value and that there’s only one of me and I’m sure glad I’m that person. The future doesn’t scare me anymore, it excites me and I know I’ll wind up on my feet no matter what. ::knocks on same piece of wood:: I always thought high school and college would be the glory days and could never be topped, but the past seven months proved otherwise. 2017, at least from May onwards, was the best year I’ve had since I graduated college.

With all this self-confidence does come a few issues. When I was feeling depressed and anxious, I was less willing to post on social media. Now, I post and engage more frequently. I’m also a bit exuberant and could imagine some find me over the top in recent months. While I’m trying to bear that in mind and not cross over the “Jerk Line,” I’ve come pretty far by being who I am. If people don’t like me they are more than welcome not to follow me, but I’m not going to stop being myself. As long as the folks I respect deeply have respect for me, I’ve done my job. Part of that, displayed right here, is that I’m a bit of an oversharer when I’m happy. At the same time, what’s a personal blog for if not for getting personal (I think this essay has more uses of “I” than anything I‘ve ever written)?

I can be a bit of a hot head and will try in 2018 to follow advice the whole world could benefit from: “You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.” Cutting toxic people out of my life was one of the keys to my late 2017 success and that works “on the internet” too.

My other concern is what if the depression and anxiety creeps back in and my seven months of bliss was just a phase? All I can do is take life one day at a time and realize thinking too much about “what if’s” is a waste of time and could even trigger me. I’m going to enjoy these moments as they come, while bearing in mind depression and anxiety are issues for me and making sure that I will be comfortable coming to my support system if I need a hand.

 

Johann Hari wrote a fascinating article about depression for The Guardian filled with anecdotes from the writer’s life, deep research and quotes from experts. How we as a society think and treat depression and anxiety continues to evolve. Hari astutely points out some of the changes since the Diagnostic & Statistical Manual was first published. Johann also challenges a number of assertions about each condition and brings up one great point after another. Highly recommended reading for which I thank @fluffhead67 for sharing. A bevy of breakthroughs continue to be made in our understanding of depression and anxiety. Thankfully, less seem to be dependent on pharmaceuticals and more are on therapy and human interactions. So, if you are struggling with depression or feel overwhelmed by feelings of anxiousness, the best thing you can do is tell someone you trust. Believe me, I understand it’s difficult, but take the first step and the rest will follow. Here’s to a fantastic 2018!

 

Published inEmoB