Surviving Depression and Anxiety.
Growing up, autumn was my favorite season. That time of the year still holds a very special place in my heart, as I love Halloween and the whole aesthetic of the season too much for it not to. But I realized recently that I do love spring a whole lot. This time of the year is a reminder that even after a period of darkness and cold, it’s possible that the sun and light will come back and plants will grow. Spring, for me, is a reminder that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, that there’s hope even in the midst of darkness.
I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for most of my life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had issues with feeling empty, hollow, anxious, and stressed far more deeply than many others seem to. And things always feel worse in the winter (shout out to seasonal affective disorder and the short, overcast days that the Pacific Northwest provides). So while spring brings blooming flowers and longer days, it also brings a renewed hope for me.
Recently, I felt that tiny bit of hope again and while it’s still hard to get out of bed, I realized that surviving mental illness is a marathon and not a sprint. While I’m not suddenly going to just jump out of bed one day and accomplish everything I dream about, I can at least do little things every day that make me feel better and slowly build up to all those dreams.
I also realized that this is something that’s different for everyone and not everyone’s journey is going to be the same. I keep comparing my own journey to everyone else and that makes me feel incredibly awful about myself. I don’t own a house; there’s no possible promotion for me; and I cried almost the entire time I last went on an ill planned vacation because I was just so anxious about being away from home.
But people hit different milestones at different times and what might be important to one person might not be important to me. So while I may see friends and old classmates get promotions or get engaged/married or go on grand adventures, I’ve come to realize that there’s still time for me to do what I want. And my own priorities in life aren’t going to be the same as others.
So I’m working on a checklist of things I can do everyday (i.e. brush my teeth, drink more water, make my bed, leave my house), things I can do more regularly but not necessarily every day (i.e. laundry, shower, make a good meal), and things that bring me joy/keep me out of bed (i.e. knitting, photography, writing). All of these things won’t magically fix the chemical imbalance in my head but they’re still things that can remind me about all the good things that do exist in my life.
And I’ve started keeping track of all the good things that happen in a day. Did I make the bed that day? Yay! Did I go out with friends or have a fun time with my dog? Also yay! It’s so easy for me to start spiraling into self hatred that remembering even the little moments of productivity or happiness is a great thing.
Everyone’s journey with mental health is going to look different and I know that my own path isn’t going to work for another person. But I do encourage everyone to remember the things that you love in life and to go get help if you need it. Finding those things and remembering how to love and feel joy is tough when you’re in that fog of depression. I know that all too well. And asking for help doesn’t make you weak or different or terrible. Therapy and medication are utterly normal things and sometimes, you just need a little help getting through something.
I’ll keep sharing my journey through mental health here because writing is one of those things that I just love doing. It’s something that gives me purpose and it’s something that I can’t imagine not doing on a regular basis. And I know what it’s like to go through this alone. I don’t want anyone else to feel like I have.
If you are struggling with mental illness or are just going through a tough time emotionally and mentally, know that you aren’t alone. It’s cliche and often overstated but things really do get better. ❤ ❤
This is a road I’ve traveled most of my life. Some days are nothing but ruts and gray sky, other days are smooth and lined with wildflowers and blue sky. I’ve learned no matter how rough it gets driving into the ditch is not the answer. I just hold on knowing the ruts will pass. It’s the little things in our daily lives that make this all worthwhile.