The Hardest Part of it All


As I sat on my bed cross-legged with tears in my eyes, I knew I was tired. But it still didn't all add up.

During a recent breakdown, one of my best friends looked at me funny. And through the tears, I asked "what?" because you always know when someone has something to say by the look on their face. He pulled me in for a hug and then asked me what the hardest part of it all is. And I cried harder. I just don't know. It's terrifying and aggravating at the same time. The hardest part of all of this is that I generally don't know what triggers it. I will be sitting doing work one minute and the next I'm in a heap on the floor crying my eyes out. What gives?

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I don't like to worry other people. My anxiety gets the best of me sometimes (read: a lot of times) and then it gets worse because I worry that I'm having other people worry about me and I just don't want that. So fam and friends IRL, please don't stress over this. It honestly helps me to talk about and write about and share my experiences with other people.

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Anxiety is different for everyone. Depression is different for everyone. Think of it this way, two broken arms don't have the same x-rays -- the same goes for mental illnesses. When you take a minute to look inside, to really see what is going on, it looks different for everyone.

It's hard to have these illnesses because they aren't something physical (well, not always anyway), so it can be hard for someone "on the outside" to understand what you are going through, especially when you don't understand it yourself. It took me a long time to be comfortable with discussing my anxiety and other various mental illnesses. But once I started to talk about it, I realized how much better that made me feel.

Let me share a little bit about having a panic attack, but remember one size doesn't fit all.
It's feeling like you have lost all control, very quickly and very irrationally. It's pins and needles in your arms, hands, legs, feet, face... pretty much anywhere. It's an unrelenting pounding heartbeat that you swear everyone can hear. It's chest pain and not being able to breath normally - it feels like what I assume drowning might feel like. It's blurred vision and being too scared to stand up for fear of the dizziness and blacking out. It's every negative thought racing through your head at once, diagnosing yourself with all the worst case scenarios - heart attack, stroke, etc. The most terrifying part of it all is not wanting to tell anyone for fear that they will think you have lost your mind. Obviously, nothing is wrong with you, get over it. But suffering in silence only makes it worse and it makes those physical symptoms that much more real.
I'm here to tell you that these symptoms are real and they are scary. I'm also here to tell you that you are not alone. If you ever experience something like this, seek help. If you aren't ready to seek professional help, find a good friend that you can trust and talk to them.

There are times when anxiety isn't coupled with panic attacks, it is simply ever present and constricting on your life. There are times when anxiety is coupled with something completely; its cousin depression. Nearly 1/2 of the people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety disorder. And sometimes anxiety comes all on its own, but that doesn't make it any less serious.

It is so, so important for people to understand: There isn't always an event or situation or person or ANYTHING that can cause a person to have depression and anxiety. It is important to remember that these are mental illnesses that deal with chemical imbalances in the brain. So yes, sometimes a traumatic event causes depression (or other illnesses) but sometimes there isn't that trigger so to speak.

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How do you make it better? Well, everyone is different. The most important thing is to find someone you trust and talk with them. Having someone to listen when things get rough or when you are just too tired to keep going, is a lifesaver. I wouldn't trade those people for anything. They are my absolute best friends and the people I turn to in any situation. I also strongly suggest seeking professional help. Sometimes it is easier (and more beneficial) to talk with someone who is not emotionally involved. Your friends love you, but they don't always know what is best for you. Sometimes you need an outside voice, a voice of reason to help you along. And sometimes you need something more, be it a new hobby, some sort of therapy, an antidepressant or anti-anxiety pill, group activities... really anything that you think might help (and that your doctor recommends).

In the last few months, I've written a few other posts that might help you as well: [one] [two] [three] [four]

If you ever need someone to talk to or you have questions, let me know. I'll try to help you in any way I know how.

CONVERSATION

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