Something a bit different today. An acquaintance of mine who suffers with anxiety offered to tell us about her personal experience. Her name is Katie. This is not an article about solutions; just a real message about what normal people go through over years and years.
I was officially diagnosed with anxiety and depression at eighteen; fairly late considering I had been dealing with it since I was ten. I went far too long without proper treatment and this led to the weakened and fatigued woman I am today.
For years, I was forced to act like nothing was wrong and pushed my feelings aside. If I would go back and do it all over again I would be blunt about my feelings and seek help earlier before it became the enormous issue it is today.
My anxiety stops me from doing everyday things and normal twenty-one-year-old activities. Going to class and work never seem to get any easier and bars and parties are completely out of the question.
Due to my anxiety, I could not live on my college campus and commute forty minutes twice a week. I initially was going to be a resident but a terrible panic attack led me to withdraw and seek even more help. Scheduling five classes on two days making a ten-hour day was not an anxiety reliever by any means either.
I try and use this long day to prepare myself for the career world and distance myself from the comforts of my home and feeling of general safety.
Luckily, if there is any luck related to anxiety, I usually have anticipatory anxiety. My thoughts will run wild with “what ifs” and scenarios in my head months, weeks and days before the actual event. Unfortunately, this anticipation problem creates panic attacks before the event is even happening and makes the attacks worse when it does. But after my attack is over I can generally settle down and be fairly regular. For new routines such as a new semester or work, it can take a few weeks to not feel nauseous and filled with worry and anxiety every day.
Let us not forget about the evil twin that comes with my anxiety and also for many others – depression. Words I associate with depression: worthless, hopeless, alone, unmotivated, unhappy, and lacking desire. I feel all of these on a daily basis with some days worse than others. My depression is considered moderate but has elevated to severe once or twice in the past several months.
After a suicide attempt in the summer of 2015 my parents, and, more importantly, myself, realized this was terribly real. My lack of motivation to continue school, be with friends, date and even live was not just a phase but a branch of a bigger problem.
When anxiety and depression work together it can make for a terrible day, week or even month. I know others out there struggle just like me and some more. Hopefully, each day for you will gradually be better than the last. With every day we push through our feelings of worthlessness, sadness and worry we do become a bit stronger. It may not feel it but each day is a small victory we need to recognize.