Living With Depression and Anxiety

When I was in college, I had a bout of depression which I barely survived. It came on slowly and left even more slowly. Though the worst of it lasted only a few months, the entire awful experienced stretched over more than two years.

Since that time, I've been vigilent about not letting myself fall back into the dark abyss. Still, my struggles with depression come and go--albeit in a far less intense form than I experienced in college.

I do virtually everything which has ever been recommended to prevent or treat depression. I have lots of friends whom I meet regularly. I eat healthily, including plenty of fish and seafood. I exercise. I maintain my weight. I read the Bible, pray, and sing hymns. I don't abuse alcohol. I think positively. I express my negative feelings. I have enjoyable hobbies. I sleep enough.

In spite of all my efforts, I can't quite manage to totally banish depression from my life. It's like an old friend that keeps stopping by for a visit every so often. I've learned to endure, even ignore, the occasional visits, because I know they won't last long.

To make matters worse, I also suffer from recurrent bouts of anxiety. In some ways, the anxiety is far more difficult to bear than the depression. It is physically uncomfortable and distracting. I feel tightness in my chest. My heart beats faster, and my body feels generally "not right." The anxiety seems to originate in my chest and often refuses to leave for days, no matter what I try to do. Exercise is helpful, but (surprisingly) the most helpful thing is being busy doing some challenging activity. Going to work is quite helpful, even when I don't enjoy my job.

My mother also struggled with both depression and anxiety, as did her mother. My guess is that is it probably something genetic. I'm just grateful that I've learned to live with it. My grandmother and mother both struggled with alcoholism. I think it was their way to try to deal with the anxiety. Fortunately, I've taken a different path.

11 comments:

  1. It sounds to me like you're doing great, and I'd be pleased to pray for you both in petition and thanksgiving!

    Pax,

    John Heuertz, O.P.
    Kansas City

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  2. Have you tried any prescriptions for depression and anxiety? No shame in that. About 25 percent of the population here is doing it. Don't know if there is a rise in these symptoms or they just are more aware of it now. Well, maybe they have more to treat it with more than former days. Anyway, I like to see it treated, because, IMO, the physical side effects can't be healthy in the long run. Interesting that you called it and old "friend" (as opposed to enemy, or just annoying acquaintance - a relation that drops by too often - a houseguest that overstays etc.). That sounds like at least you have a very healthy attitude towards the situation. Being kind to all parts of your particular makeup. Oh, speaking of genetics, yeah, you might have to consider staying pretty much off booze in general. Bummer. (OK, just a little now and then)

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  3. Sorry for the late reply. . .

    Yes, I would consider prescriptions for anxiety and depression, if my symptoms ever got unmanagable. Several of my close friends have taken or are taking anti-depressants. I actually did try some medicine for anxiety that my doctor gave me, but it wasn't that helpful for me.

    Yeah, I think it's important to be kind to all parts of one's genetic make-up and life experience. We never know how all our our traits interact inside ourselves.

    :P Hannah

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  4. I do experience sometimes but one thing that helped is to look forward is that "it won't last". And for sure HE knows whatever stage we go through---and he feels what we feel.

    Hope to see you sometime again and so with Noah:).

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  5. Hannah,

    When my MVP got bad, I also had anxiety symptoms. It was terrible. I even had a whole day when my heart raced as if I had just been badly scared even though I told my mind to be calm. The Inderal took care of most of that, but I found that taking magnesium and staying away from MSG, alcohol, and sugar helped so much that I was able to quit taking Inderal. But sometimes if I have too much caffeine, MSG, or sugar (I haven't had alcohol cause it gave me chest pain last time I had a couple of sips), the anxiety symptoms start to come back.

    I've also been depressed fairly often, especially in university. I wonder why.

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  6. I have had bad problems in the past, but leaning more towards bad anxiety. I no longer have debilitating effects like I used to. This change occurred when I changed my diet and gave up drinking pop, among other things like controlling the consumption of alcohol and marijuana. I think a cleanse is very helpful, getting rid of all the toxins that have built up in the body due to diet and environmental factors.

    Here are some resources from Bastyr Collage, filled with good advice.

    http://bastyrcenter.org/content/category/19/177/194/

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  7. I've thought a lot about depression, and have come to my own personal conclusion that small bouts of depression and anxiety are markers to tell you you're an empathetic, feeling person who isn't completely resilient to the negativity of the world. I don't feel that all depression or anxiety comes from within, and I feel that outside forces are so subtle, that sometimes we don't recognize their impact while in the moment. I think we should remember that floating through life in a state of constant bliss or contentment is not necessarily something to strive for! How else do we strive for greatness, or learn, or risk?

    When you mentioned "knowing the cycle, and being able to live with it", it reminded me of a time when I slipped into a deep depression, which I have not allowed myself to fall so deeply into since. That first major one seems to be a learning experience, and helps us combat future scenarios. I think it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. It showed me how to feel without totally surrendering my emotions and forgetting to use my head!

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  8. Anonymous (both of you), your thoughts are truly profound. Thanks so much for sharing!

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  9. I know that feeling. just take some anxiety pills for a few day to balance yourself. you will feel better.

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  10. I am really impressed with the fact that you took your own new path to fight with anxiety. According to me, the most essential thing in this regaerd is acceptance- accepting ourselves and the consequences of our actions.
    I think this might help... I have it pasted on my wall and just wanted to share:
    "Choices are born out of human intelligence and consequences are born out of HIS intelligence. Faith is in knowing that HIS intelligence always prevails. Faith is in knowing that sometimes our plans may be upset so that he can execute his plans for us and HIS plans are always right for us. The force that brings you to it will bring you through it.
    Embrave gratitude. Gratitude will flower into love. Love will result into surrender. Surrender will culminate in Faith. And in Faith, MIRACLES HAPPEN..."

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  11. I had anxiety before, but I got a lot better now, thanks to www.medsheaven.com I HIGHLY recommend ordering from them, they have a section on their website for anxiety pills and the best part there is no prescription required!!! uc

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