Anxiety and depression have this way of sneaking up on you and taking you by surprise when you are at your most vulnerable. When you have anxious, and sad tendencies the smallest thing can make you feel helpless and surrender to it. I experienced a period of complete and utter hopelessness, feeling like I had the weight of sadness hanging over me like a dark cloud, and constantly asked myself “how will I ever make this go away?”.
A year ago, even the thought of going into work, doing housework, or meeting up with friends would render my mind into panic. Even though I was trying to be busy, getting on with usual day to day tasks, and having to concentrate on something was made impossible, thanks to that all too familiar dark cloud. I spent so long wishing I could have my life back to the way it was, with a normal work and social life without feeling like I was suffocating. As the saying goes you really don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I told myself if I ever ‘got over’ this crippling mental illness, I would finally do things.
One day I had an ‘epiphany’ as I called it, when I realised that the issue was within myself, not the job I was in, the people around me, or a physical illness. I had a mental illness, and no matter how many times I tried to change those external factors, the vicious cycle continued. I figured the outcome was to change how I thought about myself, the world, and the people in it. Slowly after, I started getting better, piece by piece. I would wake up in the morning, and without hesitation, get up and go out. I started socialising again, and began going to work each week without calling in sick. I began all of this with a positive outlook. I set myself ‘small’ mandatory challenges each day, that once completed made me feel invincible. I understand this doesn’t always seem possible, but it’s important to reward yourself for what may seem to others like the smallest of things.
I am not saying I am completely cured; I have always been an anxious person, and I still have moments where my insecurities takeover, and I feel sad. For me, it was accepting my pain, admitting ‘I am not ok’ and giving myself the time out I needed to heal. I started with filling my emptiness with the things that made me happy. However, above all, what helped me was that I wasn’t alone in this. When I came out of the dark place I was in and ‘came back to reality’, I discovered that so many people around me were going through a similar thing, I just wish I knew sooner.
Being diagnosed with anxiety, depression, or any other mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of, why should it be treated any differently than being diagnosed with a physical condition? Always seek help, and don’t be afraid of letting the people who make you feel like a burden go. The first steps that began my recovery started when I spoke about it, and a huge weight felt like it had been lifted. Today, I am in a completely different situation. I recently started an access course, and am thinking about applying for university to begin my career in Nursing, which is something I never thought I could achieve a year ago. So just remember your life can get better, “life is tough but so are you”.