Around 25% of adults suffer from a mental illness. I want to raise awareness about this issue, and help people understand the different aspects of living with a mental disorder a bit better. That’s why I’m launching a series of guest posts called Mental Health Mondays, where I give other people the opportunity to share their experiences with mental disorders. This week Courtenay from Courtenay’s Beauty Box writes about 5 challenges she faces related to depression and anxiety.
Depression and anxiety both run in my family, and as such, I have been battling both of these from a very young age. It wasn’t until I sought out help my junior year of college and really tried to implement the advice I was getting that some of the symptoms diminished in intensity. While I am doing much better than any other point in my life, there are still a few challenges that continually resurface.
Comparison: The Death of Self-Satisfaction.
No matter how well I am doing with anything – school, work, life pursuits, etc – as soon as I see someone else doing remotely better, I immediately feel a huge sense of inadequacy. These comparisons do not come from a place of not being happy, it’s quite the opposite actually. Seeing others do well makes me extremely happy for them.
It elates me to see people achieve their goals, especially when these people are close to me. However, as soon as that lens shifts toward me, I feel like I am going nowhere in life. This usually begins a downward spiral which leads me to the next point…..
Cyclical Nature: “Peaks and troughs, dear. Peaks and troughs…”
These words are something my dad often tells me when I am going through a bit of a downturn. Personally, these are usually triggered by an interplay of excessive and constant bad stress, poor nutrition, and isolation/loneliness. Depression and anxiety don’t just come for a day and go.
Depression will persist at times for weeks or months at a time, then things may clear for a bit, then something may happen that throws it all into a tailspin again. Anxiety doesn’t really go away, you just learn to manage it better. I suppose the same can be said of depression as well, depending on the severity.
Personally, this is a challenge because sometimes, even though internally I am trying very hard to keep afloat, sometimes everything spills over like a damn and things come crashing down. Then, after receiving help in whatever form it may be (counseling, medication, etc) the symptoms may mitigate for a while. Life is dynamic, and things are never easy. Thus, there are going to be times when depression and anxiety will spike, and others when it will falter for a bit.
High Functioning Depression: Not “looking” depressed.
I blame media for this much of the time. One of the biggest challenges having ‘high-functioning depression and anxiety.’ In this case, these two illnesses do not manifest themselves as me lying in bed all day and not showering. I wake up every morning to attend class, go to work and do what needs to be done there, maintain decent grades, etc…
BUT, these tasks are performed by rote. They become very mechanistic, and are done without any “juice.” Self-criticism is at its highest, and coping mechanisms damage my body.
Outwardly, things seem fine. Inside, I am wreaking havoc on myself, and my lens on the world is that of apathy and hopelessness. Trying to talk to loved ones about your mental illness may fall on deaf ears because they don’t believe you, and that can be frustrating.
Lack of Direction: What to do With Your Life.
I talk about this at times on my blog, but the interplay of anxiety making me feel like I am unqualified to do many things/that I will fail at them and depression making me feel like garbage for not being “useful” have stopped me from taking many opportunities and excelling at them. This has shown its ugly face from not joining a swim team when I was younger and now as I am on the cusp of graduating college and entering the “real world.”
It can be very mentally exhaustive trying to constantly remind yourself why you should get out of bed, go talk to people, and continue to “do.” Sometimes, it may seem appealing to just shut it all off and just stop fighting. It is especially challenging when there isn’t much anyone can tell you that makes it better. Sometimes there is no “making it better,” just figuring out how to make it to the next hour, then the next day, then week, and so on.
I am by no means a professional, nor am I anyone whose advice should be taken as professional medical health. Everything is just based on personal experience, and I hope it is helpful!
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