Living with Anxiety and Panic Attacks
Anxiety and Depression
If you came across this article, you're probably in a frantic search to find a cure for anxiety or depression or both. First off, there isn't an easy cure for any anxiety or depression disorder. Anxiety and depression are mental illnesses that take time to heal.
How do I know all this? I'm living with it. I have the deadly combination of both anxiety and depression. So, of course, I'm using writing to help focus my thoughts and as a coping device to help face my demons.
With that much said, this article isn't meant to give any medical advice or treatment for mental illness. I'm not going point to a specific psychologist (although counseling should be taken into account) or tell you that Valium or Xanax are the best prescriptions out there.
If you need those type of answers just google: anxiety depression, stop anxiety attacks, or depression disorder help. The other alternative is to read a twenty-five dollar anxiety and panic free book where the author describes their personal journey though the depths of anxiety and how they overcame their fears.
Honestly, this article is about me and my anxiety disorder. I'm focusing on my issues and trying to make sense of my condition. Hopefully, through my personal accounts, I can not only discover my true source of anxiety, but help someone like you in the process. I'm not trying cure you. That is something that both you and I must do for ourselves. However, if I can help you overcome fear and deal with your anxiety then this article is worth it. Heck, maybe we can help each other.
My Anxiety Explained
Oh, here's the hard part. I must explain my anxiety. In short, it sucks. I do not want to talk about anxiety. I'm sure you don't either. Who would want to explain their worst fears by reliving it? It's horrible, intense, and, at times, overwhelming. However, talking about the anxiety disorder is necessary in order to understand anxiety and hopefully stop panic attacks from occurring.
What do I feel? Personally, I'm going through a panic attack phase. It's a phase where I perceive things so negatively that it destroys any rational thought. Hmm, that kinda sounds pretty "textbook" to me, don't you think? All right, so I gotta go deeper.
My anxiety is a fear of losing control. It's a feeling of losing perception of reality; or in other words, I fear I may go insane. Now, have I ever actually lost my overall perception of reality? Ha, well, I don't think so, but that's for another time and another argument. Let's say for argument's sake that I've never went crazy due to an anxiety attack.
So, then what's the problem? Why can't I just snap out of it? Well, simply put, it's the fear of another anxiety attack. It's the fear that the next time could be the time where I do go insane. Why is this feeling so powerful? Hell, I know the condition. I realize that it's only pure adrenaline that's running through my veins. I am well aware that I'm thinking irrationally and that I will not go insane.
So, again, what's the problem? Well, it becomes a conditioned response. The initial fear was so intense, so overpowering that I couldn't (nor can't) think past it. Therefore, every time anxiety creeps in, the experience repeats itself and I go into an endless cycle of fear. This cycle turns into an obsession and I can't move past it.
I'm reminded of a line from the movie Inception: "An idea is like a virus, resilient, highly contagious. The smallest seed of an idea can grow. It can grow to define or destroy you."
Anxiety May Lead to Depression
Okay, I explained my anxiety and how it grows within me. The next question is: How does depression fit into the mix? Depression is a little hard to explain. You're not sad because that would imply that all you have to do is be happy. When you are depressed, you can still find happiness. Or better explained, you understand the concept of happiness.
Depression is "non-feeling" or emotionless. It cannot be explained in real specific terms. It's very abstract and different for each individual.
In my case, the depression is intertwined with my anxiety. I have what psychologists refers to as generalized anxiety disorder. It's where I become anxious due to random negative thoughts such as "don't mess up or everyone will laugh at you, everyone is looking at you, that guy thinks you're an idiot and is just waiting for you to mess things up."
During my anxious state, these negative thoughts are just that, lying on the surface. However, as my mind repeatedly absorbed the negative messages, my subconscious began accumulating this information. I, the inner-self, began to believe in the negativity. As a result, depression started seeping in.
I never really realized that until just now, right at this moment, that I (throughout my life) became depressed for what appeared to be no reason at all. Hmm, depression equals accumulated negative thoughts from my suppressed anxiety? That's definitely a possibly. It makes sense.
Anyway, jumping back into the present, my current anxiety phobia (where I constantly fear anxiety and fear of fear) created a whole new list a negativity. For example, sometimes I think to myself, "Am I ever going to get through this? Will this feeling last forever? How do I explain this problem to everybody? Will I ever experience fun again?"
These negative thoughts sprouted my current state of depression. A depression where reality becomes horrific. Where I can look at a beautiful sunset and find fear in it. It's a fear of never enjoying it, of it not being real, or somehow the sun and the world are enclosing upon me and there's nothing I can do to stop it. That's what depression is. So, yes, in a way it's sadness, but it's beyond that. Depression is a serious haunting experience.
Meanwhile, when these depressive thoughts arise, my anxiety kicks in and spirals into it's cycle of crap (which is only natural because that's some deep freaky shit!). So, it becomes a cycle of which came first, the depression or anxiety. And which one do I attack? Can I attack both?
Laughter Can Help Depression and Anxiety
Dealing with Anxiety and Depression
So, now that I've analyzed (in writing) my inner thoughts that lead my condition, how do I help relieve anxiety or depression? What can YOU do?
Well, for starters, write it down. I'm telling you it helps. There's something about systematically confronting the problem on paper that works. It becomes tangible.
Next, attack anxiety with a healthy diet. Try to avoid anxiety prone agents such as caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, cheese, and drugs. So, basically, anything that is enjoyable. Ha
Another option at your disposal is religion. You can find God and become super religious. In doing so, you can volunteer for just causes and find a purpose in life.
You can exercise and go through deep relaxation techniques.
All these things are great and help alleviate your anxiety, but inevitably, you must change your mindset. We must drive out the negativity, or at the very least, change the way we perceive the negative thoughts. No matter who you are, where your anxiety and depression derives from, negativity seems to be the common thread. Obviously, it's no easy task, but it's the truth. It must be taken care of in order to control your anxiety and depression.
How do we stop our negative inner thoughts? How do we find enjoyment in life? Well, I think we all need a purpose. We need to find what motivates us and drives our inner passion.
So, what do you like to do? What's your ideal lifestyle? Do you have dreams and aspirations? Think about your childhood, what did your younger self want to do?
For me, I want to be a successful writer. I want to create fictional stories that dazzle the minds of both children and adults. I also want to make a difference in someone's life. I don't know all the details, but it's something I want to do. I want to feel like this life matters, and I'm not just leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong...wait, was that Quantum Leap? What's that doing there? I also enjoy making people laugh.
Sometimes, when dealing with depression and anxiety, you need to step back, relax, and laugh.
Well, hopefully, this is a start.
If you have any suggestions or want to get something off your chest, go right ahead and jot something down in the comments below.