Saturday, December 21, 2013

The Difference Between Anxiety/Depression and "Normal" Emotions

I have struggled with anxiety and depression for years.  Years.  I don't remember a time that I didn't struggle with it.  I remember feeling like the world was ending on a regular basis as a kid.  I remember freaking out inside on a regular basis... especially in high school.

Losing Joey the way I did, then losing other people in my family, then moving, then moving again, then having babies and struggling with postpartum issues, then changing jobs, then........ well, life has been hard...

Like I've mentioned so many times on here and my old blog, it all hit really hard this past summer.  I think all of the things that I've been trying to "be strong" through just overwhelmed me, and I wasn't able to be strong any more.

Often, I believe out of trying to be encouraging, people would tell me that my feelings were "normal."  It was normal to be overwhelmed and have feelings of anxiety.  It was "normal" to feel depressed at times.  It was normal to have bad days.  It was normal to be frustrated with my kids and yell.  It was normal to feel like a bad mom.  It was normal to need alone time.

What I don't think they knew about telling me that how I was feeling was "normal" was the fact that it made me struggle to hope.  I assumed that because this was "normal," I would live in the deep pit that I lived in for the rest of my life.

I was told to focus on the good in my life; I have so much to be thankful for.

I was told that it was a choice... I could choose to live in anxiety/depression, or I could choose to live in peace.

Again, because of all of these words, I felt more defeated.  I kept thinking that I was doing something wrong; I should have been able to stop those feelings.  I have no reason to be anxiety or depressed...

Now that I'm not living in the deep pit of anxiety and depression (which I attribute to finding the right combination of medications and counseling), I now know that those "words of advice" were all wrong. 

I'm not here to make anyone feel bad... just to shed some light on what anxiety and depression is like, and they are not "normal" feelings that can be controlled.

I had a bad day yesterday.  I came home feeling as though my ability to control my class was completely gone... and that must mean that I can't teach (never mind the fact that it was the day before Christmas break and it was "Winter Party Day").  Then, out of stress, I wasn't the nicest to my kids.  Then, even though it was our 10 year anniversary, I didn't pay any extra attention to my amazing husband, even though he deserves the world.

I woke up in the middle of the night after a bad dream (I won't even go there), laid in bed, and over-analyzed everything for a little while.

The beautiful thing, though, is that this over-analyzing didn't last the rest of the night.  I over-analyzed for a little while, prayed, did some of my some relaxation techniques that I learned in counseling, and was able to fall back asleep.

Then this morning, I woke up, spent time with Jesus and felt refreshed.  I'm not worried about things anymore; I'm able to move on.

This is the difference between depression/anxiety and "normal" emotions: I don't live with it day in and day out.  I don't have a 500 pound weight on my chest.  I don't have an upset stomach 24/7.  I don't lose sleep every night.  I can breathe normal.  I can use the relaxation techniques because I can remember to use them.  I can enjoy life.  I can enjoy my family.  I can handle bad days.  I can see the good and be thankful.  I can live with a positive attitude because I feel positive.  I feel like I can persevere through the hard moments.  I know that life is hard, and I can handle that.  It doesn't make me struggle to live each day.  I have peace.  I have hope.

No one really understands the depth of anxiety and/or depression unless they've experienced it.  

I don't hope that on anyone; though, know that if someone is going through it, just love them :-).

1 comment:

Lois said...

Thanks for sharing this post. It made some things click for me concerning a family member. Sadly, I don't think she can be convinced about counseling as I doubt she would acknowledge that what she deals with is not "normal". Also, do you think that the place you've come to is possible for one who doesn't have an intimate relationship with Jesus?