Anxiety and Depression – The Double Edged Sword

If the first week of 2013 is any indication of what is to come, this year is already shaping up to be one heck of a ride. The ups and downs of the past week have left my head spinning.  So many changes, and so many possibilities. It’s more than a little overwhelming.

I’m excited to meet up with a new friend today.  I enjoy getting to know new people, spending time with like-minded and encouraging individuals. But as I start my day and go about my errands, I am all of a sudden very aware of my OCD kicking in.  It’s a sign that my anxiety is flaring up, preparing for the experience of newness and facing the possibility of the unknown.

“What the heck is this all about?” you say…lol…this is my life…

I check my phone for messages a hundred times, sign in and out of Facebook, check all my social networks and consult my day’s schedule for probably the 20th time.  I’ve drained the battery on my phone already and its only noon.

What am I hoping to see? A distraction, a reminder, a validating statement…who knows. It’s not a full blown panic attack (those are unique and extremely emotional outbursts in a moment of overwhelm). No, this is just my daily routine of coping with social anxiety, feeling what most people understand as “nervous” almost daily when out in public or going about my day. It takes conscious effort to live in a peaceful mind.

This is why I live alone.  I need the quiet and space to myself – the freedom to do what I want, when I want, uninterrupted or bothered by sound or activity. My house has a sense of simplicity and calm.  There are not a lot of decorations and I do my best to keep it tidy – clearly it doesn’t stay this way all the time, but in general a clean house brings me peace. Sometimes I have chill music playing in the background of my day but lots of times (like today) I prefer the sound of silence.

So, anxiety is the “up” side of things – which does have a positive aspect in that I can channel the anxious energy to clean my house, get lots of errands done, or I generally arrive to appointments or meetings 15-30 mins in advance. However, it is balanced by a “down” side as well, which doesn’t so frequently have any positive aspects.  I have a mild anxiety disorder mixed with mild depression. What this means is that not only do I walk around feeling “nervous” a lot but I’m quite often on the verge of crying. I have to psych myself up to leave the house in the morning.  The anxiety makes my heart beat a mile a minute and sends my brain into a whirlwind of general thought, while the depression brings my mood and energy levels down. On bad days, I don’t want to smile or engage in conversation, my motivation levels to do ANYTHING other than sit on the couch are non-existent, and in general I hate my life. LOL

But if anyone has ever met me, they would usually be very surprised by that last statement…unless you’ve known me WELL and for long enough to hear my story and appreciate my daily struggle (or have personally experienced my cancelling plans).  But such is life…everyone has SOMETHING they are dealing with, and that’s how I’ve learned to cope.  I remind myself that I am not the only one in the world struggling and there are lots of things in this life that I have to be thankful for.  So I focus on those and try not to sweat the small stuff about the fact that I’m sweating the small stuff. LOL

Sounds silly, I know, but my anxiety and depression make me more anxious and depressed. And what a deep dark hole THAT is! So I’ve learned to omit judgment and just acknowledge the situation for what it is.  “Why make a mountain out of a mole hill?” mom would say. And she’s right. It is what it is.  What do I gain from judging myself for my own situation? I’ve learned to just role with the punches. If I’m having an overly anxious day, I will leave my house but then run back to check the stove or straightening iron to make sure everything is off. I usually leave with tons of time anyway, so going back to check will only put my mind at ease instead of having to go about my day an anxious mess. Or if I’m having an overly depressed day, I will cancel social plans and just sit at home in the quiet or go for a walk to get some fresh air and oxygen to clear my head.

I’ve learned to live with it. Some may think I’m crazy, but I’m just me and I’m ok with it. Take it or leave it, “no skin off my nose” mom would say. 🙂

And there ya have it.

…this is my life…

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