If you have struggled with anxiety or depression, you may have experienced the fear and wondering if things will ever get better. Some people feel distressed that they will be cemented forever in the pain and cyclone of the mental storm that doesn’t want to seem to end. For someone like myself who has had anxiety all of my life, I know that it can come in varying degrees where it sometimes interferes with my life, and other times it is so minimal that I am thriving despite anxiety.
What I can say as a person who has experienced anxiety and depression is that living in the fear of being stuck has never helped me. Steps that I have taken to keep moving forward have sometimes been as simple as changing perspective, and as difficult as digging deep in therapy, and everything in between. In action, there are glimmers of optimism, motivation, and change and that has been the way that I navigate through the mental health relapses.
It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel when days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months of trying to find your way through anxiety or depression. It can feel exhausting and like a never-ending battle. There is no doubt that this mental exhaustion can elicit feelings of hopelessness, despair and even suicide. This place of feeling stuck is terrifying, and from the countless times in my past that I have sat on my bathroom floor sobbing alone and wondering how I am going to make it another day, I understand what it means to feel broken inside.
When I am in the midst of an anxiety or depression cycle that seems endless, I try to move through what I’m feeling. This could mean I’m meditating more, practicing better self-care, talking to my therapist, exercising, writing or engaging in other passions I enjoy. Motivation can be hard when you are feeling so low, and the thought of doing anything can seem like a daunting task. I know that when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of change, I need to try my best to muster up enough willingness to do at least one thing that will help. Sometimes that one thing can mean getting honest and asking for support. Asking for help can be hard, especially if you are the one everyone turns to for support and guidance.
The thought of anxiety and depression not going away can be unbearable. Trying to predict what tomorrow will bring, or how you will feel does not help either. There have been many times that I have anticipated feeling anxious about a situation the next day, only to have the day arrive and feel fine. I also know that the idea of just thinking positive is not one of those things that is going to miraculously make someone feel better. Let’s be realistic about that. If positive thinking was a cure-all for mental illness, we would not have the epidemic that we do. Not all depression and anxiety are rooted in negative thinking. Let me repeat that: not all depression and anxiety are rooted in negative thinking.
So, how do you deal with the lingering fear that you will always have anxiety and depression, when you are in the midst of a difficult and unwavering, painful place? The truth is, you don’t know how long you will feel this way. There is no textbook answer to someone’s mental health crisis. There is no prescription of taking antibiotics for five to seven days and your symptoms will be gone. Sometimes medications for anxiety and depression will alleviate and change a person’s life for the better and sometimes it doesn’t. Medication has never been an answer for me, and I have had to find other coping strategies that work in my life.
The answer is not always easy to find. Sometimes when people are doing everything they can to try and help their situation, things don’t change either, and that’s the confusing reality of living with a mental illness. Everyone is worthy of having a life that brings them joy and peace. It doesn’t come easy for some people, and I get that. I never want to dismiss and devalue the pain and suffering of someone who struggles every day.
Learning new coping skills, how to manage thoughts, behaviors, and emotions are good starting points for managing anxiety and depression. We live in a time where resources are easily accessible for finding tips and tools. Mood and anxiety apps are available to track and teach you strategies. Information is power, and being proactive with your mental health can help you develop the skills that you need to combat the thoughts and fears that accompany anxiety and depression. If you can find a way to try and transition the thoughts of what if I always feel this way, to what if I won’t always feel this way, it can give you the hope you need to keep searching for what might help you long-term.