Anxiety, Depression & Me

"The only medium to get theology right, is story." ~ Jonathan Martin

I love people's stories. I love the opportunities when I can share mine to help people know they are not alone. This is a continuing thing happening in my life. I've shared about the damage and healing of a past things. I've shared about the life of a step-mom and will continue to do that. I've shared some things about being single for much longer than I desired, finding the greatest love I can imagine besides Jesus and the healing that came from being loved by a man I only could have fractionally have imagined.

My life has not been void of anxiety or depression. In fact, these things have plagued me for some time. My most keen awareness of my own depression was in fall of 2008 - spring of 2009, the year after I moved from Texas to Virginia. It was a hellscape of my mind that was not benefited from a broken heart, loss of a friend, working a night shift and climate changes this Texas sunshine girl wasn't prepared for. I survived though. It wouldn't be long til I fell back into the darkness for short spurts again and again.

In the most recent years, through the help of therapy & some deep spiritual overhauls to my life, I learned that I had developed anxiety alongside of slides into depression (which are more infrequent now, thankfully, but still unexpectedly grab my feet). And anxiety, honestly, is almost MORE crippling than full-fledged depression.

Triggered panic attacks, mood swings that would make a person's head spin, irritation, vicious anger, weeping for unexpected and unknown reasons or known reasons. Feeling like your heart is going to explode out of your chest, being incapable of stopping your brain from spinning the very worst scenarios, it's like waiting for a piano to fall on your head when the piano doesn't exist and like if you do anything, the worst outcome is going to happen at the drop of a hat (and sometimes when it does, your mind says "See I TOLD YOU!"). It's feeling completely paralyzed and/or crazy and not knowing how to stop it, but not displaying it on the outside so coworkers think you're just bitchy or emotional, or making it up. It is paralyzing.

According to the Anxiety and Depression of America (, anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the US affecting 40 million adults - that's 18% of the population  (and this is a statistic of people who are willing to accept a diagnosis and talk about it. Most don't or won't so this stat is likely low) . And of those reporting, only ONE THIRD are receiving treatment. There are mutiple versions of Anxiety - ranging from OCD, to Generalized Anxiety (GAD), panic, Social Anxiety, PTSD and others. Mine is a combination of PTSD and GAD. The PTSD from abusive relationship & people in life.

Over the last couple of years, it came to my attention that a lot of my issues through most of life have stemmed from anxiety. I hadn't put a name on it because I didn't know. But it has been a shadow in my life for a long time. But also, in giving it a name, I was able to find ways to overcome it. Now, let's be clear - some people "get over" their depression or anxiety and some people learn how to cope. I don't know which mine will be; only time will tell which it is. But for now, I'm learning some healthy coping skills to work through panic attacks, depressive swings, or rising anxiety.

So if you're suffering in anxiety, depression or panic...this is for you. Or maybe you don't know how to stop stressing about stuff - this is for you too. As a disclaimer - I am NOT a therapist or medical expert, so please, see a doctor before you do things that affect your health.

Here are some ways that I combat anxiety in my own life/daily routines:

1) SLEEP ENOUGH :  Anxiety is kinda a bastard and keeps you awake so it's important for me to make sure I give myself a routine that allows for rest. Sometimes that means turning off the social media sphere long before bed, rest my mind, enjoy some cuddles, watch my kid play games, whatever.

2) ESSENTIAL OILS : I started using oils to replace some medicines for pain, etc. And found a world of help in lavender, peppermint, vertiver, lemon and orange oils. Simple stuff, really but aromatherapy is the world to me. Feel free to email or message me to find out more. My husband calls them my "witch's brew" but he's become a believer too. Ask him about it too.

3) DIET : I hate diets. I am more irritated by people who only talk about their latest fad diet. So this is not that. But there are legitimately foods that are good for anxiety and depression. There's a lot of info out there about this - but consult your doctor. This is a HUGE part of changing your world. Healthier intake makes for a healthier inside. -- including your brain. For me, my husband & I ditched fast foods almost entirely, no soda & switched to mostly whole foods, real food. No processed stuff for us, as much as we can help it & nothing with sugar in sauces, etc unless absolutely necessary.

4) EXERCISE : This became a life saver. If you are a runner, run, if you're a walker, walk. If you are into cardio, do cardio. Lift weights, take a couple of yoga classes, cardio classes, whatever> DO SOMETHING. It will be more healthy you, and more healthy brain.

5) CLOSE CONFIDANTES : I need people to talk to because I'm somewhat of an extrovert. But even introverts need to have help of people too. Having someone to text and say "today the anxiety is on high" that can say encouragement to my heart like "dont forget to breathe!" or remind me to laugh by sending me stupid funny memes is huge. Find your tribe. Let them be there for you.

6) KNOW THYSELF : As an ambivert - I know that I need BOTH people and alone time to recharge. However, I also know that I tend towards extreme introversion and hermit-ing in the phases of depression and anxiety that can lead to furthering the spirals of both & cause me more problems. Some time alone with Netflix can be a good coping skill, too much of it and you might find yourself deep dark depressed with no way out. Whatever it is, know if you're an introvert, extrovert or ambivert and work towards goals that give you what you need.

7) COPING SKILLS : Also known as self-soothing. Know what helps you. For me? A cup of tea, good music, snuggly blankets, a favorite movie or show, reading a book.  A walk with my best friend down a beautiful trail, a ride through the mountains, playing with kids, coloring books, art projects, etc. All these things are so great. If you have to take  a mental health day to recoup and hit reset, do that - just don't make a habit of bailing on work, obviously.

8) BE KIND TO YOURSELF: This is a hard thing when we give ourselves impossible standards to uphold. Society wants us to be perfect mom, dad, sister, daughter, etc. But we need to give ourselves some grace and kindness, especially when it comes to anxiety, depression & the like. If you need to take a break, have a nap, bath, kind to your soul. Self-care isn't bad. You are no good to the people you love if you're not being kind to you.

9) FIGHT THE STIGMA : Look. People are jerks about depression and anxiety both. A recent happening on twitter where someone said depression was B.S. and people needed to suck it up, get over it, etc. became a HUGE issue. But listen. We have to fight the stigma. Depression and Anxiety are REAL things and they destroy the minds and hearts of people. Let's support each other, let's tell our stories and NOT BE AFRAID. There are a world of people who will back you up & you may find that a lot MORE people are walking in your shoes than you know.

There are so many more things that have been helpful for me, but I've already prattled on enough. IF you have more suggestions, or have questions, drop a comment on my facebook post or here and I will gladly chat!


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