On Dealing With Anxiety & Depression

I last posted on this blog on January 19th, 2017. It is currently April. April. It’s been 3 months since I have been able to actually write a damn thing. For someone who has always been able to write, even on the darkest days, being unable to do so has been incredibly jarring.

So, I’m going to be honest with you. It hasn’t been easy. I needed a break. After years and years of putting my mental health in the back seat in order to keep working, keep hustling, keep being the person that everyone thinks I am, I needed to stop. I needed time to recuperate. To breath.

I have dealt with anxiety and depression my entire life. When I was a teenager, I blamed my panic attacks and inability to get out of bed in the morning on teenage angst. Except I still got out of bed, because I knew I needed to get into my dream college. I needed to prove to everyone that told me that writing was just a hobby wrong. So, I kept going. I didn’t make my mental health a priority.

I thought, “Once I get into college and move to New York, everything will be fine.”

And it was…for a while.

My freshman year of college was a dream. I partied all night and studied all day. I made incredible friends. I got an internship for the summer at a company that was right up my alley. I was living my best life.

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A good year

However, on the eve of the beginning of my sophomore year, tragedy struck.

I was going through things that no 19-year-old girl should ever have to go through. My mother was in trouble and it felt like everything around me came to a crashing halt.

I had to take a semester off of school because the tuition hadn’t been paid and I spent that semester feeling lost. I let myself break for the first time in years. I can’t even tell you in words how lonely that year felt- even though I had amazing friends by my side.

I felt like I couldn’t tell anyone how broken I was. I had too much pride to ask for help. I would leave my internship in the middle of the day to panic in the hallway. I cried myself to sleep almost every single night. That year was absolutely the worst year of my life but, half of the people that I knew had no idea. Because I kept working. I kept a smile on my face. You see, I have this thing where I get anxious about people who worry about me.

My pride was too strong.

After that semester ended, I went back to school. I had a new goal to focus on. I was determined to make up the credits I had missed and I was determined to graduate on time. Things were still terrible, but I had something to set my sights on. Plus, I could still write. Even though there were days where I would still miss class or cry or panic, I threw myself into my writing and my work. To be honest, some of my best work came from that period in my life.

I convinced myself that I was happy, really happy, even though everything around me had fallen apart.

As college went on, things got better while simultaneously getting worse. I had to learn to take care of myself completely, to support myself, and because I was too afraid to ask for help, I did some unconventional things in order to survive. However, I was doing well in school, my friends were as amazing as ever, and if you saw me or knew me, you would think that I was doing just fine.

I took my mental health for granted, again.

I left my depression at home and learned to hold in my panic attacks.  I didn’t want to be the sad girl with the sad life. I just wanted to be me, the me that everyone saw instead of the me that I saw.

So, I carried on.

In my mind, I was going to write even if it hurt, I was going to get my dream job after I graduated, and then save up money so I could quit and travel the world.

We all know, though, that that’s not what happened.

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In fact, what happened was: I graduated and everything fell apart. I no longer had a concrete thing like graduation or grades to concentrate on. The dream job that I had gotten went on a hiring freeze, which meant I couldn’t transition into the position that I was promised. I had bills to pay so I took the first job I was offered, but it was not the right fit and I felt terrible all the time. I got another job after that, that paid well, but it still didn’t feel right.

I found myself using all my money to go anywhere else on the weekend. I took spontaneous trips because it was the only time I felt good. I left that job shortly after. I got my final job in New York, and that felt right but then it didn’t. It paid very little while my bills got very high. After years of avoiding it, my mental health screamed at me to pay attention. I was hurting others in my wake, letting my darkness infect the people who were just trying to help.

However, I still ignored the voice in my head and went on living under the facade that everything was good.

My friends were the only thing making life feel worthwhile, but then my mentor died.

Two months later, my high school sweetheart and old friend died, too.

I couldn’t ignore my sadness anymore and after the funeral, I was out of a job. Again.

So, in a fit of tears, I asked for help. I called my dad and asked him if I could please, just please, come visit him in Switzerland. Just for two weeks. That story you already know.

What was meant to be two weeks, turned into forever.

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It’s been seven months since that day and for once, I am taking a break.

You can’t just leave depression behind at the airport the way you can everything else. It comes with you, haunts you, screams at you to pay attention. I never did, I never listened to the voice in my head that begged me to take a moment to breathe. Until now.

For seven months, I have been able to take a moment to focus on myself and I am learning to ask for help.

I am learning to deal with all of the things I couldn’t deal with before. Moving to Europe, in some way, was what I needed all along.

I still have bad days but now I can finally put aside my pride and talk to someone about it. It helps that, during my move, I also met the love of my life. He is the first boyfriend that I have ever had that does not tell me to suck it up and smile.

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I wish there was a course for my past significant others to take so that they can learn how to deal with their lover on a bad day. My boyfriend would be the professor. I am not afraid to tell him my pain, my sadness, and he’s always there to listen. He doesn’t give me that look of pity and concern that I hate, he doesn’t feed me with any sort of inspirational quote as if that will suddenly cure me of my sadness. He’s just there. I never knew that having someone simply be there would feel so great.

Finally, on the dark days, I can pull myself out of bed- not because of any obligation but because I want to. That’s progress.

That’s what healing looks like.

However, at the expense of my health and mental wellness, my creativity has taken a bit of a beating. I am always flowing with words but I knew that if I picked up my pen again, I’d just continue that bad habit of avoidance. I didn’t want to throw myself into this blog for the sole purpose of running away from the things that haunted me. That’s what I was doing before but I don’t want to do it anymore.

I have learned so much about myself these past few months and now I know that I don’t have to write because I need to in order to fulfill some sort of nagging obligation I’ve created for myself – I can write because I want to.

So, I’m sorry that this blog has been so silent for so long. I’ve been dealing with my past so that I can focus on my present.

This morning, I woke up. I made coffee. I smiled. Then, I sat down, looking out at the mountains outside my window, and I began to write.

For you, this might not seem like much.

For me, this moment is everything.

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Suggested Listening For This Post: Somebody Else, The 1975

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