Although this blog is titled My Anxious Life, depression is something I’ve wanted to touch on as well. Anxiety disorder and clinical depression often go hand-in-hand, so my intention was for this blog to be about both. If I’m honest, I haven’t touched on it very much yet because depression is a difficult thing for me to talk about. It’s not something I’ve dealt with as long as anxiety, as it only really started cropping up in my 20’s, so I guess I don’t feel as qualified to discuss it. Nevertheless, it’s an important topic to address alongside anxiety, so I wanted to take some time to give you all some background on my experiences with depression.
In retrospect, the earliest sign of my eventual battle with depression happened in high school. It was during the summer, I was about to start my junior year when my friend messaged me on AOL Instant Messenger (remember that?) to tell me he was moving half-way across the country. Not long after, my other good friend told me he was moving to another town and would be transferring to a new school. I was devastated, to say the least. I didn’t make friends very easily, and these guys were my best friends in the world. School always gave me anxiety, but they made it a lot easier to manage. It was the earliest point in my life when I remember feeling truly hopeless.
Depression didn’t really hit again until I was 22 when I had a huge setback in life. My anxiety got so bad I couldn’t leave my apartment, I lost my job, and as a result, I was more depressed than I had ever been. Things started to get better, I was making progress with my anxiety, I got a new job, and I was getting the help I needed. Things were pretty good for a year or so until my uncle died, and things kind of fell apart.
I’m going to be honest, I don’t think I’ve ever fully recovered from that experience. I kept pushing through my anxiety, but the depression kept digging itself in. On the plus side, I kept my job, started my own freelancing side business, and was able to keep pushing through with what I had learned from my earlier experience. But I was very much unhappy, and my self-esteem was dangerously low. Things only got worse when my girlfriend of 8 years left me almost 3 years ago, something my depression played a role in causing.
That served as a wake-up call for me, and I’ve since been putting the work into improving how I feel about myself. I rebuilt my self-confidence and started putting effort into making myself happy. I still struggle though, every day, some days more than others. But I look at how far I’ve come, and what I’ve accomplished in the last few years. It’s been an exhausting, painful fight. A fight full of high hopes, and big disappointments, but all I know now is to keep fighting, to not just lay down and accept what I have because it’s comfortable and easy. Because I know something good is waiting for me down the line. I don’t know what it is, but I know that it’s out there and if I don’t keep pushing I’ll never reach it.
I’ve come to think of depression as a tunnel. It’s dark and full of obstacles, but you have to keep moving forward. If you give up and don’t try to overcome the obstacles you face you’ll never get to the end, you’ll never find the light. Maybe there is no light at the end, but we have to believe it’s there. To submit to the darkness of the tunnel and concede defeat leads to a very bad place.