I've never really shied away from speaking about my depression or anxiety. I've dealt with depression since I was a kid and after much counseling, I've figured out I've also always dealt with anxiety. However, there's a difference from always having dealt with anxiety to having my anxiety triggered. I know a lot of this won't make sense but this is more to show you what I deal with on an almost daily basis and how scary it felt for me from the beginning. It's not pretty. It's not pixie dust. But it's a huge part of who I am and it's important for me to share with you in case you're going through something similar.
My hands get clammy. My vision blurs. My chest feels like a boulder is sitting on top of it. I can't swallow but then again, there's nothing to swallow because my mouth gets dry. I get this sense of dread in my stomach, like something bad is about to happen, if not already happening. My feet start to sweat. My hearing starts to feel like I'm in a fish bowl. My body feels tingling, like ants walking on me. My legs seem to become jelly like and my feet feel numb. I'm starting to feel like I'm not breathing and about to pass out. My head feels mushy or at other times, prickly. I feel like crying because I'm not sure what's happening. Is something actually wrong this time or is this another panic attack? Do I call an ambulance? What do I do? My mind feels like it's on a speedway with thought after thought just racing through it. I try to take those deep breaths I've been taught to take when this starts to happen but I can't. I feel like I'm gasping for air and I can't stabilize myself. If I'm out in public, I fear someone will notice and then I start feeling embarrassed even though no one has noticed. This is what I experience when I have an anxiety attack.
A panic attack? A panic attack makes me feel like I'm dying. I can still remember my first one like it was just yesterday. My left arm numbed up and my head felt wet, like I was having an aneurysm. It felt like ants were also walking inside my head. My heart sped up to the point I thought it was going to pop out of my chest. I felt so dizzy and I couldn't focus on anything. I felt like throwing up but instead I was dry heaving. My hands and feet were sweating. My body felt so hot but at the same time so cold and I was shivering. Walking by myself was near impossible. I kept losing my balance and felt like the earth was spinning. I could barely form words and when I was able to form words, I stuttered so badly. At this point, I call my mom, worried this might be the last time I talk to her as I head to the emergency room, not knowing what could be wrong with me. I get to the emergency room and then doctor tells me "Oh you're just having a panic attack. You'll be fine." JUST a panic attack? I've never experienced one before in my life. Here I am thinking these are my final moments and a doctor tells me it's JUST a panic attack.
They handed me a prescription for both my nausea and also one to "calm" me. No explanation. I continued to suffer from panic attacks almost daily for about 6 months. I went to counseling from the beginning but it didn't really help. I started going weekly and little by little it helped.
However, I still struggle with it. It doesn't help that anxiety and depression usually go hand in hand. When my depression starts to intensify, so does my anxiety. Some days it's a struggle to even get out of bed, to take care of myself. I don't feel like talking to anyone but then I feel bad if I don't. I feel alone even though I know there are so many loving souls that care about me. There are days where I cry and there's no explanation behind it except that after I cry I feel a TINY bit better. I start to question why I'm here and what's my purpose when I feel so damaged. I smile and laugh but inside I'm so overwhelmingly sad yet not many really see past the facade.
It's not an easy journey but I KNOW I'll be okay, because I always am even when the darkness seems to consume me. When I have a panic attack, yes it's scary but I know I'll survive this one just as I did the last one. They're also not as common anymore which is a huge step from where I was at a year ago. And when I'm alone and THINK I'm alone, I remember every person that has brought positivity in my life but most importantly, loves me.
Even through all of this, I know my life is absolutely beautiful. I treasure every real moment of joy and happiness. I do not take anything for granted and I don't hate my life. I absolutely love it. I remind myself that it's okay not to be okay but to always reach out for support when I can't do it alone and not to let it consume me.
I know I probably rambled on and on, but I tried my best to write this out as it came to my mind. If you're going through something similar, you're not alone. If there's one thing that's helped me is finding others who have gone through this or are still managing their anxiety and depression. If you ever need help, reach out for support whether it's a family member, a friend or even a stranger. You'll be surprised on how many people are willing to be there for you.
"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light." -Albus Dumbledore
Jennifer loves long walks down main street, capturing moments and spending time with her loved ones..