The Start of My Battle With Anxiety and Depression

This post is all about something which is talked about an awful lot these days, yet still seems to be a pretty hidden subject. Especially to those going through it. It’s something that has had a huge impact on me over the last 8 months. In England, 1 in 6 people report experiencing a common mental health problem (such as anxiety and depression) in any given week (statistic taken from mind.org.uk). So if this many of us are dealing with it, then why do we find it so hard to talk about it? Depression and anxiety isn’t a one size fits all illness. It can be completely different for every single person dealing with it. It can be triggered by so many different things and it can effect people in so many different ways. The 2 don’t necessarily go hand in hand but for the most part, they did for me so I’ll mainly talk about them together.

It took a few days, maybe a week, for everything to begin to sink in. Due to everything that had happened, I was off work, which meant I had plenty of time to process it all. I’d had a period of time feeling nothing but pure confusion and anger. I didn’t understand why this had happened to me. What had I done? Why did I deserve it? How would I ever get through it all? I had already suffered with depression a few years before so it’s something I was familiar with, but this time, it was completely different. The cause was different, the feelings were more intense and it felt like my anxiety was completely taking over. I was unable to leave the house on my own and I still struggled even when I was with someone. I spent a lot of time wanting to be on my own but I also hated been left alone with my thoughts. The majority of my days at this time were “bad days”, when just getting out of bed or washing my hair seemed like the most impossible of tasks.

I spent a few weeks feeling like I was living in a bubble. I spent the majority of the time in my own little world, but my own world wasn’t a very nice one. It was full of mixed emotions, not enough sleep, racing thoughts and self doubt. I knew that there had to be a way out, but I just couldn’t see it. The only thing I was certain of was that I didn’t want to feel this way. My days seemed to pass by in a bit of an emotional blur and nothing seemed to be getting easier. I spent a lot of time by my phone waiting for updates from the police and felt like I was in limbo. I also spent a lot of time in bed, some days I barely even got out of it. I cried, a lot. I had little interest in anything and some nights I wouldn’t even get a minute of sleep. Because my mind was constantly racing, I had 0 concentration so watching tv, reading a book or even holding a conversation were difficult. I’d always loved reading and thought that engrossing myself in a book might be able to take my mind away from reality. But nothing could shut my mind off and I could read a full chapter and have no idea what was going on. I felt completely trapped inside my own head and I couldn’t escape my thoughts.

This period of time was especially difficult because I didn’t want to tell anyone what I was going through. The down side to this was that I shut a lot of people out and was ignoring messages and calls. It wasn’t just that I didn’t want to explain my anxiety and depression, it was that I didn’t want to explain what had caused it. One of the hardest things was trying to tell myself that time on my own to deal with everything was what I needed, whilst having my anxiety convince me that people were thinking/talking badly of me for not being in touch. Just 6 months before all of this started, I was living on my own in Budapest. I’d moved to this new country and started a job not knowing anybody. I’d made new friends, had new experiences and grown so much as a person. I was confident and was thoroughly enjoying my life. And now, I wasn’t even leaving the house on my own. It made me feel so sad and angry that I seemed to have taken a million steps backwards from where I was 6 months ago. But the positive I had was that I knew, no matter whether it took months or years, I could get back to being that person again. Because I was that person!

During this time I was having regular appointments with my doctor and I was prescribed anti-depressants. I know medication may not be for everyone, but it really did help me. At first I was put on Citalopram, but it didn’t agree with me and caused headaches and trouble sleeping. I went back to the doctor and he changed my medication which suited me much better. I also started counselling (which I will talk about in one of my next blogs), and I began seeing improvements. Albeit, small improvements, but considering how low I was, it seemed huge to me. I began telling my friends what I was going through and openly talking about the situation and how I felt. I started to feel comfortable enough to leave the house on my own and although there were still plenty of bad days, it started to feel like I was having more good than bad ones. Don’t get me wrong, at this stage I was in no way over the worst of it, but I was making small improvements and that could only be a good thing. I’d realised that this wasn’t going to be something which I overcame within a day, and small steps were better than nothing at all. My cousin gave me little tasks such as getting myself out of bed before 9AM. Now that might not sound like a difficult thing to some people, but that’s the kind of thing I had to start with in order to help myself moving forward.

At the end of February, I left my job for good. I knew that I needed to focus as much time as I could on myself and on moving forward. However, after I left my job I started to wonder whether all of this time on my own was being a help or a hindrance. Yes, I could focus on myself but it also meant I had a lot of time to think. Maybe too much time. I started to look for jobs but I was still so anxious that I was panicking about interviews and starting over somewhere new. I felt like I wouldn’t be able to meet new people and I ended up working myself up over it way too much. I realised that I wasn’t ready for this yet. Despite feeling a little better, I still had such a long way to go and forcing myself to get back in to work seemed like it’d do more harm than good. Despite what other people were saying, I knew myself and I knew what I needed. I knew that I needed to take more time to focus on myself and the time would come when I felt ready to get back into work.

Living with anxiety and depression caused me to change a lot as a person, which is expected. I’d always been cautious, but now I was completely over cautious. Things I used to shrug off I was now taking to heart. Something I may have got over in a day I was now dwelling on for a week. And I was overthinking absolutely everything! It effected me in so many different ways, and even though I was taking small steps and seeing some improvement, it felt like I was constantly taking 1 step forward and 2 steps back. Like I was on some crazy emotional rollercoaster and every time I thought it would stop, we’d go round and round again. I would’ve loved for this to be the point where things started to get better, but little did I know at the time that things were going to get so much worse and my mental health almost won.

Thank you so much again for reading my blog. I’m so so grateful for all the support I’ve had!

Much love,

Steph xo

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