What It’s Really Like Going Through a Deep, Dark Depression

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How we see the world shapes who we choose to be — and sharing compelling experiences can frame the way we treat each other, for the better. This is a powerful perspective.

In early October 2017, I found myself sitting in my therapist’s office for an emergency session.

She explained that I was going through a “major depressive episode.”

I’d experienced similar feelings of depression in high school, but they were never this intense.

Earlier in 2017, my anxiety had started to interfere with my daily life. So, for the first time, I’d sought out a therapist.

Growing up in the Midwest, therapy was never discussed. It wasn’t until I was in my new home of Los Angeles and met people who saw a therapist that I decided to try it myself.

I was so lucky to have an established therapist when I sunk into this deep depression.

I couldn’t imagine having to find help when I could barely get out of bed in the morning.

I probably wouldn’t have even tried, and I sometimes wonder what would’ve happened to me if I hadn’t sought professional help before my episode.

I’ve always had mild depression and anxiety, but my mental health had rapidly declined that fall.
It would take me close to 30 minutes to coax myself out of bed. The only reason I would even get up was because I had to walk my dog and go to my full-time job.

I’d manage to drag myself into work, but I couldn’t concentrate. There’d be times when the thought of being in the office would be so suffocating that I’d go to my car just to breathe and calm myself down.

Other times, I’d sneak into the bathroom and cry. I didn’t even know what I was crying about, but the tears wouldn’t stop. After ten minutes or so, I would clean myself up and return to my desk.

I’d still get everything done to make my boss happy, but I’d lost all interest in the projects I was working on, even though I was working at my dream company.

My spark just seemed to fizzle.
I’d spend each day counting down the hours until I could go home and lie in my bed and watch “Friends.” I’d watch the same episodes over and over. Those familiar episodes brought me comfort, and I couldn’t even think about watching anything new.

I didn’t completely disconnect socially or stop making plans with friends the way many people expect people with severe depression to act. I think, in part, it’s because I’ve always been an extrovert.

But while I’d still show up to social functions or drinks with friends, I wouldn’t really be there mentally. I’d laugh at the appropriate times and nod when needed, but I just couldn’t connect.

I thought I was just tired and that it would pass soon.

3 Ways I’d Describe Depression to a Friend
It’s like I have this deep pit of sadness in my stomach that I can’t get rid of.
I watch the world go on, and I continue to go through the motions and plaster a smile on my face, but deep down, I’m hurting so much.
It feels like there is a huge weight on my shoulders that I can’t shrug off, no matter how hard I try.
The switch from deep depression to considering suicide
Looking back, the change that should have signaled to me that something was wrong was when I started to have passive suicidal thoughts.

I’d feel disappointed when I woke up each morning, wishing I could end my pain and sleep forever.
I didn’t have a suicide plan, but I just wanted my emotional pain to end. I’d think about who could take care of my dog if I died and would spend hours on Google searching for different suicide methods.

A part of me thought everyone did this from time to time.

One therapy session, I confided in my therapist.

A part of me expected her to say that I was broken and she couldn’t see me anymore.

Instead, she calmly asked if I had a plan, to which I responded no. I told her that unless there was a foolproof suicide method, I wouldn’t risk failing.

I feared the possibility of permanent brain or physical damage more than death. I thought it was completely normal that if offered a pill that guaranteed death, I would take it.

I now understand those aren’t normal thoughts and that there were ways to treat my mental health issues.

That’s when she explained that I was going through a major depressive episode.

Reaching out for help was the sign that I still wanted to live
She helped me make a crisis plan that included a list of activities that help me relax and my social supports.

My supports included my mom and dad, a few close friends, the suicide text hotline, and a local support group for depression.

My Crisis Plan: Stress-Reduction Activities
guided meditation
deep breathing
go the gym and get on the elliptical or go to a spin class
listen to my playlist that includes my all-time favorite songs
write
take my dog, Petey, on a long walk
She encouraged me to share my thoughts with a few friends in LA and back home so they could keep an eye on me between sessions. She also said talking about it might help me feel less alone.

One of my best friends responded perfectly by asking, “What can I do to help? What do you need?” We came up with a plan for her to text me daily to just check in and for me to be honest no matter how I was feeling.

But when my family dog died and I found out that I had to switch to a new health insurance, which meant I might have to find a new therapist, it was too much.

I’d hit my breaking point. My passive suicidal thoughts turned active. I started to actually look into ways I could mix my medications to create a lethal cocktail.

After a breakdown at work the next day, I couldn’t think straight. I no longer cared about anyone else’s emotions or well-being, and I believed they didn’t care about mine. I didn’t even really understand the permanency of death at this point. I just knew that I needed to leave this world and unending pain.

I truly believed that it would never get better. I now know I was wrong.

I took off the rest of the day, intending to go through with my plans that night.

However, my mom kept calling and wouldn’t stop until I answered. I relented and picked up the phone. She asked me repeatedly to call my therapist. So, after I got off the phone with my mom, I texted my therapist to see if I could get an appointment that evening.

Unbeknownst to me at the time, there was still a little part of me that wanted to live and that believed she could help me get through this.
And she did. We spent those 45 minutes coming up with a plan for the next couple months. She encouraged me to take some time off to focus on my health.

I ended up taking the rest of the year off of work and went back home to Wisconsin for three weeks. I felt like a failure for having to stop working temporarily. But it was the best decision I ever made.

I started to write again, a passion of mine that I hadn’t had the mental energy to do for quite some time.

I wish I could say that the dark thoughts are gone and I’m happy. But the passive suicidal thoughts still come around more often than I want. However, there’s a little bit of fire still burning inside of me.
Writing keeps me going, and I wake up with a sense of purpose. I’m still learning how to be present both physically and mentally, and there are still times when the pain becomes unbearable.

I’m learning that this will likely be a lifelong battle of good months and bad months.

But I’m actually okay with that, because I know I have supportive people in my corner to help me continue fighting.

I wouldn’t have gotten through last fall without them, and I know they will help me get through my next major depressive episode too.

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, help is out there. Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.

11 Things Others Don’t Realize You Are Doing Because Of Your High Functioning Anxiety

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Anxiety can be very harmful and it’s not something to be overlooked. The worst problem is that a lot of people can’t understand the effects it can have on a person and find anxious people as being lazy, irresponsible and passive.

If you are not an anxious person, knowing this can help you understand anxiety a bit better. If you are, we are sure you are going to agree with these things.

1.Decline invites although you may want to go

There are certain days that you may have planned all along and when they come, anxiety takes up the whole space. It can become so debilitating that you feel as if you lack the energy to go out.

You are aware of what is happening to you and you don’t want to become a burden where you are supposed to go – so you just cancel everything.

2. Obsess over trivial things other people may not even notice

A simple word or an unintended glance from someone is enough for your head to start processing and rewinding the situation even for days! The truth is you obsess over everything that has happened recently or a week ago, or any time ago, really.

You may obsess over a conversation you had, or the fact that someone hasn’t texted you yet (after a whole 12 hour period) or really just over the fact that some stranger looked at you as if they knew you.

Whatever the case may be, many would get confused by the notion that you even notice such things.

3. Go to bed late, wake up early in the morning

One of the biggest issues for you is certainly sleeping. Of all the processing in your head after the day, you find it hard to go to bed on time.

When early morning comes, your anxiety clock starts ticking again and ringing several alarms to get things going – even though you are tired. When your anxiety has switched on (by waking up), you can’t do anything to switch it off, so you don’t go back to bed.

4. In every situation, the worst scenario is your biggest thought

Instead of enjoying the moment as it is, you can’t help picturing and convincing yourself that the worst scenario is inevitable. If it’s a first date, you are convinced that something will go terribly wrong.

If you get sick, you always manage to connect the symptoms to the worst diseases you can imagine. It’s as if your mind tricks you into believing that nothing can go right.

5. You rewind conversations in your head – over and over again

No matter how well a conversation went with somebody, you always replay that conversation in your head fearing that you may have said something wrong. That’s why you try to avoid confrontation at all cost.

This constant rewinding seems to be able to haunt you until it starts chipping a hole from the inside. You always have to remind yourself that it’s your anxiety talking and that there is most certainly nothing wrong with what you have said in the first place.

6. When someone shows concern about you, you become even more worried about the same thing

If someone notices that you are not OK and shows concern, your anxiety grows even more. The thing is, when you hear someone asking if you are alright, it makes you fear even more for yourself and your state.

You think – if it has become noticeable, then there has to be more to it than I thought. This makes you feel worse than you did.

7. You believe that you are to blame if someone doesn’t reply right away

When communicating with people, be it your significant other, a friend or a relative, if they don’t respond immediately, you start thinking that you may have said or done something wrong.

However, you should stop and consider that they may be in the middle of something that takes up their attention, or that they are just bad at communicating.

8. You are experiencing a breakdown when the future comes as a topic

While most people look forward to the future and make plans for the future, your view on the future is making you feel intimidated and frustrated.

Experiencing the present so hard makes you think how hard and daunting the future may be. This makes you retreat and hide from the thought of it.

9. You always compare your success to others who are your age

Although you may not want to compare yourself to others, your anxiety makes you scour through Facebook and stay up to date with all the successful things your peers have done.

Your worries are not that they have managed to succeed, but if you are ever going to succeed in your life like they have.

10. You obsess too much over every mistake you make by beating yourself up over it

The worst scenario is making a mistake at work. The thoughts that will consume you afterwards are tremendously difficult to handle.

Although you strive to perfect whatever you are doing, mistakes can occur, which is natural. Unfortunately, your anxiety doesn’t know that. In such cases, it becomes your worst enemy.

11. Sometimes, you feel too mentally and physically exhausted to get out of bed

Anxiety burns up most of your energy, both mentally and physically. That’s why it can happen that you cannot function properly and you just want to remain in bed and leave yourself drown in the sheets.This paralysis comes as a result of the overwhelming experiences due to your anxiety.