Shortly after by 15th birthday, I experienced my first bout of depression. I can remember sitting in my bathtub with the water as hot as I could make it, begging God, something – anything, maybe I was begging my own brain – to make what I was feeling fall away as the water dripped down the drain. No matter how much I wanted to feel better, or how much I prayed or listed to sad music, I could life the weight from my shoulders.
Eventually, I set a date that I would end it all. It seemed like the only solution. I was scared if I talked to anyone, they would tell me to just get over it, or that I was just being sensitive and overly emotional. I can picture the exact time and place that I finally broke down and cried for help. The guidance counselor at my high school was alerted and after a short chat, she called in my parents. They came in. Together. That was a sure sign that something was very wrong.
My dad took me back to his house, quizzing me the whole time. Something HAD to have caused these feelings, right? There HAD to be a rational reason to explain away my feelings and make it all better.
Are you sure you aren’t pregnant?
Are you having sex?
Do you have a boyfriend? Did you break up?
My feelings couldn’t just be feelings. They needed concrete reasoning behind them. No, I’m not sad over a boy. Yes, I’ve tried to not think about the sad things. Maybe I’m just depressed.
The next day, I got into the car after school. With both of my parents. Again. They took me to a psychologist, whom I would continue to see for the next 5 years. Having the opportunity to visit her office regularly, whether it was every week, once a month, or 3 times a year, saved my life. Seeking help is not admitting defeat.
More recently, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder. After a period of trial and error with medication, coping techniques, and a lot of tears, I’ve gotten to a point where my anxiety has become easier to manage for the first time in 4 years.
Managing my anxiety is something that takes constant attention and effort. There is no cure. Medication isn’t going to rid me of my symptoms. God won’t take it away if I pray hard enough. Meditation and mindfulness techniques aren’t going to relieve my stress. God isn’t punishing me for a lack of faith or trust in Him. Finding my “happy place” isn’t going to eliminate my fears. Focusing on my breathing isn’t going to bring me to back to bliss.
There is no cure. There is no set strategy to eliminate anxiety from my life.
But I can manage it. I’ve found a medication that helps level out my brain chemistry. It doesn’t solve everything, but it makes everyday life easier. I’ve learned about my triggers and what heightens my anxiety. I’ve discovered where I feel safest, most secure. I’ve found out how to calm myself and make it through uncomfortable situations.
I have learned to live with my anxiety.