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Battling Depression and Anxiety

depressed_man_210761
credit Anne Lowe on publicdomainpictures.net

Hearing the news of Robin Williams passing yesterday, which was most likely due to suicide, greatly impacted me.  As I watched countless updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram I found myself  disturbed, inspired, saddened, confused, and upset.

As the world paused to remember this great and wonderful man who entertained millions, I couldn’t help but to reflect back on some of my experiences dealing with depression and anxiety just a few years ago.

At times I recall it so vividly and it seems that I was a completely different person at the time. When reflecting back it was as if I could float outside of my body and observe how different the person I am today differed from the person I felt subjected to be at that time.

While many medical professionals (and the public for that matter) like to treat symptoms or the effects of an illness, I have always been of the belief that it’s best to take a look at the root cause and how to fix it. To take a look at what I believe the cause was, it’s best if you understand my personality.  I’m a pretty intense guy and I tend to feel lots of differently emotions on a daily basis, so I may be the type of person that has a proclivity towards being anxious or depressed. This intensity can also mean very high highs as well, aka the roller-coaster effect.

At the time I had a rough couple of months financially. I’ve always been on a commission-type of income, from waiting tables in college, to marketing financial services to selling real estate. It seemed my marketing efforts to find clients were not panning out. And despite having a fairly successful 3  years in real estate, it seemed that the business had dried up.

“…how different the person I am today differed from
the person I felt subjected to be at that time.”

Now my self-employed friends might be able to relate to this better than most, but when you feel like you aren’t providing for your family the way you could or should be doing, it messes with your head. Gradually over a period of time I kept feeding myself subconscious negative messages, which only compounded and grew in strength. I eventually got to the point where I was scared to take any positive action to generate business, because I somehow knew that it just wouldn’t work out.

I felt like the world was against me, when in reality the world
doesn’t really care what happens to you. It merely conforms
to your perception of it.

My thoughts were incoherent and scattered. I couldn’t put things together in my mind anymore in a way that made sense, and I actually found myself intently having to think about what I was going to say before I said it, even in simple conversations.

Simple daily tasks became formidable challenges which I felt hopeless to overcome. My brain built up anything I would normally do habitually into something that was the equivalent of moving a mountain.

There were memories of me waking up in the morning, looking up at the ceiling, wondering why I would even bother getting out of bed. When I came home from work each day all I wanted to do was get back into bed, shut my eyelids and hope things would get better, although there was no reason to believe they would. What was the point? No one cares anyways and my life doesn’t make any difference. More than once my thoughts drifted to the pistol in my bedroom and contemplated just ending it all.

What a pack of lies.

The depression and anxiety impaired my ability to be a good parent and husband. Although I wanted to be with my boys and wife, I wasn’t really able to be there 100% mentally because I constantly had these negative thoughts in the background trying to stomp out any personal joy I may have experienced.

In social settings I felt I had to wear a mask, because who wants to have a conversation with someone that is wallowing in a river of self-pity? Looking back, I think some people may have known what I was going through.  Because when you feel something internally it’s very difficult to hide those feelings from others, as they generate a certain type of energy.

So what turned it around for me? 

I knew this wasn’t going to be permanent (even though it felt like it would) and that I could pull out of it , but I needed help because whatever I was doing wasn’t working. Through my church I located a psychiatrist who was able to prescribe some medication that would help alleviate the intensity of my negative, crippling thoughts, and “stabilize” me more so that I wouldn’t keep creating a deeper downward spiral. The doctor said i had Generalized Anxiety. Gradually over time the prescription worked, and eventually I phased off of the medication completely.

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If you know me, you know how much I love movies and am always looking to relate life experiences to them.  It kind of felt like Bradley Cooper’s character in the movie “Limitless”. And how he used the thought-enhancing medication to improve for a period of time, and once he was in a place where he felt he was comfortable enough to manage himself again, he weened himself off of it.

Remember, it is never too late to get help. There is always hope. You can start by calling the Suicide Prevention LIfeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit their site at  suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Have you had any experiences with anxiety or depression or know someone that has? Feel free to leave a comment below.