I have struggled with anxiety for years. There are days when I feel like I can’t breathe – like my chest weighs a millions pounds and just the act of inhaling and exhaling over and over again is strenuous. Not only that, but I can feel it pulsing through my veins. My arms feel like I’m covered in bugs, bugs that won’t leave me alone, crawling up and down. My hands are shaky. Everyone is looking at me like they want me gone – my partner, my best friend, my mom, my friends, my coworkers. Everyone. I feel like I’m not good enough. All I ever do is make everyone mad. Sometimes it happens when I’m laying in bed at night trying to fall asleep. Sometimes it’s while I’m at work. Sometimes while I’m shopping. Out of nowhere it hits. Most of the time for a reason I cannot pinpoint. It’s not logical. It’s just an irrational feeling inside of me that I don’t know how to escape. Even with reassurance, love, and patience, I’ll still feel the anxiety take over me. I feel like I’m it’s prisoner with no relief or chance of survival.
And while I’ve been living with this enemy, called anxiety, for years I’ve never reached out to get help. To talk to a professional. Why? Why haven’t I? There are two main reasons, I think. One, it doesn’t last long. After a few hours or days, there IS relief and I have overcome my anxiety. So what’s the point of going to counselling now? It’s over and done with. (BUT, it comes back. And that’s what I need to realize.) And two, admitting you need help and going to talk to someone, to some, may seem like failure. Why couldn’t I handle this on my own? Why am I not strong enough to do this by myself? I should be. But the reality of it is that I’m not. I need help. I need to talk to someone. Also in reality, it is not admitting failure when you seek help. It is succeeding. It is recovery. It is moving forward. It is becoming a better you.
Don’t wait. Don’t put it off any longer. Reach out. Talk to someone. Start the conversation. End the stigma. Be you. And don’t ever, ever give up on hope.
This morning I could barely drag my lifeless body and debilitated mind out of bed. One might think this typical for a Monday morning, but my story is far from typical. I woke up with the weight of the world pushing me down into the mattress, voices in my ears whispering to me that I was not strong enough to take on the day, exhaustion, lethargy, and despair beating me down before I had the chance to sit up and see the sunshine. Despite this feeling of being utterly pointless and inevitably alone in the world, I kicked my feet out from under the blanket and stumbled out of my room. I looked in the mirror at a pale face with dark bags cupping my sad and distant eyes – an expression that told the tale of a broken heart struggling to continue beating. I observed my slouched posture, my shaking hands, my baggy clothes, my knotted hair, and hated myself for how weak and pitiable I looked. I hated myself more for not being able to shake the feeling.
Somehow, I ended up here writing these words. I brushed out the knots in my hair, pasted a smile on my face, forced my feet to move to the car and forced my hands to steer the wheel, numb and hardly thinking as I drove to my job where I will smile and wave and work despite my mind and heart remaining in that cold, dark place I woke up in. I will be here, but I will also not be. I will experience a paralyzing fear of events that are entirely unlikely – graphic nightmares that will replay over and over in my mind until my heart is pounding, my mind is racing, and I am overcome with anxiety and fear beyond all reason and rationality.
This is depression. This is anxiety. It is a terrifying reality when you find you have become a slave to your mental illness. It is absolutely not a choice. If you know someone who is suffering, please do not hold that misconception. Please be aware that oftentimes ,the hardest battles are those that cannot be seen or heard but felt. It is far from easy to wage a war within yourself that no one on the outside can see or understand. I know deep within my heart that I have everything to live for and endless reasons to be happy, but so often I find myself hollow and broken because depression does not discriminate. It preys on the weak, the strong, the fortunate, the heartbroken, the wealthy, the poor, the healthy, and the sick. It is not determined by external factors; rather, it is a poison that unknowingly seeps into your life and eats away at you from inside your soul until you are nothing but an empty shell.
Though it is hidden beneath my pain as I write these words, I do have hope that one day I will overcome this. When I look forward into the future, I envision a stronger version of myself, one who has danced with depression and overcame it. But for today, for this moment, I am walking the plank, praying that my feet do not falter and I do not fall into the depth of my sorrow and drown in it. For this moment, I am fighting the burning desire to give in to this most powerful enemy.
If you know someone who is fighting a similar battle, show them they are not alone. Be their strength and their comfort. For I can assure you that when depression hits, it steals their’s away.
Agent For Change writer, Chris shares his thoughts and keeps the conversation going…More often than not I come across souls that are either broken or lost. Sometimes these things happen to those when faced with overwhelming hardships. Some will choose to walk down a path of self-destruction where they will only increase the pain that lingers in their hearts and as a result, will ultimately walk down a path that is dark and alone. Others may choose to take their own life with complete disregard to those that this will affect. Although it may be hard to grasp, eventually the waves of hardship will subside and you will be able to breathe once more. “The way I see it, life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things but vice versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things or make them unimportant.” To put it simply, we as souls are not meaningless. We all hold value and have the ability to change the world for the better. Never feel like you need to walk down a road alone. Being alone may help you become strong, but eventually you will reach a point where you can no longer grow by yourself. There will be people that come into your life whether briefly or permanently, for the better or worse, that will help craft and transform you into the beautiful person you are. What you aspire to be you can become. The only limitations are those that you place on yourself. What is broken can be fixed. What is lost is only lost until it is found. Whether you are broken or lost, there is hope.
This new writer to Project Seth has an undeniable ability to be honest and create conversations. We hope you take the time to read and share your thoughts on her first post…This is my first post. And while the cynical and broken parts of me feel an urge to dwindle on dark topics such as pain and loss, I believe what we all need to focus on is hope. Hope is the strongest weapon we have to defeat our demons. Too often, we see hope as a fleeting moment or an abstract concept or a brief emotional lapse from your true state of being. But I think we have it backwards. We are meant for more than the pain we surround ourselves with. We were born with courage, dreams, beauty, strength, and immense hope for our futures and the future of this world. We may have let those things slip away, but they are still banging on the doors of our souls, begging to be unleashed so that we can be all we were once meant to be.
I know it can be daunting and even exhausting to keep your grasp on hope. I know this because I’ve been there, and I know because I’ve seen it. One of my closest friends and one of the greatest people I have ever known lost his sense of hope; his pain overshadowed it as the clouds cover the sun, and stole his future. But in the days since his passing, I have witnessed incredible amounts of passion, strength, love, and promise that were and always will be a part of his life, his home, and his memory. I only wish he could have glimpsed into the future in his last moments, taking a pause from the powerful enemy that is depression, to see all the beautiful parts of life that would come to ease his pain and carry him through the darkness.
When I find myself in moments similar to those he experienced, I imagine what he might say to me. If I see someone struggling, I try to replicate the words of wisdom I am sure he would possess. And I believe in my heart that he would tell us to be stronger than our pain. Because we are stronger than any mountains we face; be it trauma, abuse, addiction, depression, anxiety, loss. What we have within us is monumentally more powerful, and we can be conquerors. I wish I could have convinced him of that. But because I couldn’t, and because he isn’t here to say it, I am asking you, anyone who is reading this, to listen closely. If you are overwhelmed with an agonizing conviction that you are alone in this world or that you are not worth it or that your life is void of purpose, fight back. There is still peace and beauty and wonder awaiting you, and joy beyond your wildest dreams.
We are fighting a battle between what we feel and who we are. When you feel desperate, dark, unworthy, weak, depressed, or defeated, please remember the battle and never stop fighting. Remember that how you feel does not nor will it ever define who you are. Who you are is beautiful, loved, brilliant, strong, courageous, and worth it. Hold on to these parts of you, for they are more powerful than you could ever imagine.
Have you ever felt so overwhelmed that you ask yourself or the universe or even god why is this all happening to me? Why am I the only one who feels this way? When can all of this just stop? You second guess yourself, your choices, your life, and sometimes you might be praying for some help, Unless you aren’t religious like me, then you just wish someone can help. The thing is at this very moment you feel so isolated so overwhelmed and exhausted that you feel like no one will understand, no one else feels this way I mean after all look at your friends and family all smiling and laughing and living there lives, or you might not have any friends like i did at one point of my life and just watch how everyone around you doesn’t acknowledge you and how happy they are and how they cant feel this way, that no one will care if you are gone, but the fact remains that is all a lie. You are not the only shadow in this world. There are many like that, I was once living in the shadows. It wouldn’t have made a difference if i disappeared for good or ran away. My parents forgot i existed, I had no friends, somehow i pulled the motivation to continue, i escaped the shadows and even today they try to pull me back but I fight back because i have a reason to live without my depression. I’ll admit its not entirely gone, it comes and goes but I am strong enough on my own to fight back. The thing is I’m not alone anymore, I have friends that i can call my family, I have FAMILY that motivates me to keep going, and you the reader, the person looking for help, or the person too scared to find help you are my motivation to keep going because there is no one stronger than a person that can get through their depression, there is no one stronger than the kids who go from living in shadows and playing in the sun. You aren’t alone, there are many like you and I and unfortunately there will always be. But we can change that by having hope because one thing is for certain no matter how alone you feel, you’re never alone.