Originally Published October 19, 2015
By: Amy Cooper, Detroit Ginger
People make light out of Depression and Anxiety. People also like to use these two things as a crutch, an excuse for their bad behavior, or a reason to stop everything. As much as we’d all like to feel strong, most of us have a hard time of portraying that, and I do think that social media has a lot to do with this sort of thing.
I see many people finding a way to take issue with life, and people like to complain a lot on social media, and I think, almost in a way, it’s given us this outlet to realize things aren’t always perfect, but more importantly, it gives others a completely different venue.
A VENUE IN WHICH WE CAN PRETEND EVERYTHING IS PERFECT.
People who know me pretty well think that I am this spazztic, outgoing ball of energy. A spitfire of opinions - most of which people don’t particularly enjoy, but the people that I defend? They love it. They have that watch dog in their corner. I have these crazy, embarrassing anecdotes that make people laugh, and being that I am a writer, I tell stories quite vividly.
But the truth of the matter, as hard as it is to say is the following: I have anxiety and depression. I’ve struggled with it for years, but I’ve gotten better at containing it inside of my own mind. Most of my babbling, spazztic moments? It’s not me being outgoing - It’s me being nervous as hell, and trying to burn off that energy or fill an empty space. Me talking over people or trying to crack jokes? It’s to be heard and have some sort of approval. I’ve tried tapering it off for years, but sometimes it still leaks out. People see this is an outgoing personality - or a very strong willed one, but sometimes, it really is that I’m scared. I’ll admit it.
The reason I share this, is that I get a lot of people who compliment me on my tenacity of wanting to be more, wanting to do more, and wishing they had a drive like that to be as busy as I always am.
The truth is with anxiety, I don’t know how to sit still. If I sit still, I slip into the depression bracket - because then I begin to think. I worry about finding my place in this world, worry about my weight, if I’ll find someone that will love me for all of these flaws that I have. All of this may seem very surface, but to me, it is not.
In America, we’ve got money issues, and though I have struggled for many months to maintain a place of my own for the first time ever, it takes a toll. Then on top of the normal emotions of still growing up at almost 27, it makes you see things clearer.
Being an artist, you come with a completely different set of self doubt. One in which you see every mistake, every flaw, the things you missed, and the things you wish you could change inside your art. It will almost drive you to madness, which is why they say, some of the best artists are always tortured. Why? Simply because we strive to always get better, because we can’t physically see ourselves being the best.
I used to be a cutter. Not severely, but just enough. I never did it to die, but just to feel pain. I healed from the situation, but even still, when things get too drastic, I have to remind myself not to go there, back to that place. And I am reminded in this by my friend who took his own life.
I sat down at a wedding, and after quite a few glasses of wine, I relayed to a friend who married into my core group this information: That because my friend took his own life, he reminded me not to take my own. That if I couldn’t keep my literal shit together, I had to stay alive because of my friends.
To put it down in writing, his funeral was quite possibly one of the worst experiences any of us had. And as we sat in the funeral parlor, I took in the most vivid images of my best friends, dressed in suits and ties, crying. Men who I thought I’d never see fall apart, who couldn’t keep their emotions inside. A friend holding onto my top with his fingernails and crying into my shoulder. It was shattering, and stunning, and still haunts me. And something I’d never for the literal life of me, want anyone to live ever again.
So when people accuse me of not knowing what depression and anxiety is - they don’t know who they are talking to. I know, 100%. And I’ve successfully put the right steps forward into getting the help I need, and want to say this: there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting help.
There is someone in my life that makes me feel very terrible about medication that I’ve taken to balance the playing field. I realize they are wrong about getting help, and they are too afraid to get it themselves. And that’s fine, but here’s the thing: There is nothing wrong with getting the help you need to keep yourself alive, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
There is no weakness in asking for help. If anything, there is only strength. To be brave and remove the negativity in your life - that is brave, that is not fear, or callousness. We are allowed to feel. That’s the human quality. I think sometimes, the world tries to make us forget that fact.
With anxiety, you second guess yourself constantly, which has made social media even worse to our brains, because we’re constantly comparing ourselves to others. While people are off getting engaged, or getting better jobs, or falling in love, or have these achievements that we feel we can never be talented enough to match, we fall victim to a new level of self doubt.
When anxiety takes hold, you literally cannot decide what you want, and you will spend many hours trying to decide what is right, along with going through every possible scenario, getting stuck on a specific subject. The level of hopelessness in that severe anxiety realm is crippling, and can cause people to withdraw from society on some level, simply because they don’t think they are good enough.
You can’t self diagnose depression or anxiety. I repeat - you cannot self diagnose depression or anxiety. This isn’t some WebMD bullshit where you pull it up and find out you’re dying. This is just like cancer, a gallbladder infection, and a broken bone. It needs to be diagnosed by a doctor. Why? Because when you’re broken, you need to be healed, and a professional is ready and willing to help you.
And finally, you cannot blame someone else for your depression. You may not feel that you have control, especially if you DO have anxiety or depression, but like most things that people don’t realize, depression / anxiety or not, you are the only person that can do something about YOU.
It is your life. It is your decision. Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. You cannot please everyone, but you know who you can please? YOURSELF.
On that note, I have pulled some symptoms of depression and anxiety from the National Institute of Mental Health website, and pasted them below. If you feel you are struggling with something like this, please, make an appointment with your doctor. Don’t spend your life not helping yourself be the best you that you can be. Don’t live in pain, or fear. We all have our scars, and that’s fine, but getting help, or asking someone you love to get help can prevent pain, suffering, or death.
And though people have said that the Suicide Prevention Hotline won’t help anyone who’s really contimplating, some people obviously do call when they need someone to talk to. Here is that phone number: 1-800-273-8255.
I will end with a cliche quote that many have used, but fits this particular post: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
Symptoms of Depression (pulled from The National Institute of Mental Health Website):
-Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
-Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
-Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
-Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
-Fatigue and decreased energy
-Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
-Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
-Overeating, or appetite loss
-Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
-Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
-There is also Seasonal Depression, that occurs between the late fall months to early spring, most typically related to the lack of sunshine.
Symptoms of General Anxiety Disorder (pulled from The National Institute of Mental Health Website):
People with GAD can’t seem to get rid of their concerns, even though they usually realize that their anxiety is more intense than the situation warrants. They can’t relax, startle easily, and have difficulty concentrating. Often they have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep. Physical symptoms that often accompany the anxiety include fatigue, headaches, muscle tension, muscle aches, difficulty swallowing, trembling, twitching, irritability, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, having to go to the bathroom frequently, feeling out of breath, and hot flashes.
GAD develops slowly. It often starts during the teen years or young adulthood. Symptoms may get better or worse at different times, and often are worse during times of stress.
When their anxiety level is mild, people with GAD can function socially and hold down a job. Although they don’t avoid certain situations as a result of their disorder, people with GAD can have difficulty carrying out the simplest daily activities if their anxiety is severe.
Symptoms of Anxiety - Panic Disorder (pulled from The National Institute of Mental Health Website):
-Sudden and repeated attacks of fear
-A feeling of being out of control during a panic attack
-An intense worry about when the next attack will happen
-A fear or avoidance of places where panic attacks have occurred in the past
-Physical symptoms during an attack, such as a pounding or racing heart, sweating, breathing problems, weakness or dizziness, feeling hot or a cold chill, tingly or numb hands, chest pain, or stomach pain.
Symptoms of Anxiety - Social Anxiety Disorder (pulled from The National Institute of Mental Health Website):
-Be very anxious about being with other people and have a hard time talking to them, even though they wish they could
-Be very self-conscious in front of other people and feel embarrassed
-Be very afraid that other people will judge them
-Worry for days or weeks before an event where other people will be
-Stay away from places where there are other people
-Have a hard time making friends and keeping friends
-Blush, sweat, or tremble around other people
-Feel nauseous or sick to their stomach when with other people.