Chapter 10 - Anxiety and Depression
Updated: Jun 13, 2020
October 2018, Chapter 8, I said, "I'm healthy, I am eating well and I am not clinically depressed".
How much has changed in 7 months. I am not healthy, I don't have the same appetite and I am clinically depressed.
I got diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder with Mixed Anxiety and Depressed Mood.
Depressed mood is when one might feel sad, hopeless, borderline of tears, and always experiencing a lack of happiness or excitement in the things you once enjoyedAnxiety is mainly nervousness or worry. You feel too overwhelmed, have difficulty in concentrating or remembering things.
So mixed anxiety and depressed mood is basically a combination of both.
I got diagnosed in January 2019. I thought I'd go see a therapist because everything was going downhill and my physiotherapist recommended me to go.
Scared as hell to open up to someone I don't even know, I walked in and told this guy all about my life. He smiled and asked me if I enjoy smiling in public or if it feels forced. I quietly said "feels forced".
He then asked me a series of questions, which made me feel shocked because how does he know these things, but also comfortable because he knew the answers and the questions were basically formality.
Close to the end of my first session, he asked me how I felt and what I expect from this. I said I felt embarrassed because the answers I gave were 100% true but they don't match the personality I've had for years. He then gave me a paper saying I have adjustment disorder with mixed anxiety and depression. He still smiled and comforted me by telling me that quite a lot of millennials face this and he'd recommend me seeing another therapist and do regular sessions to help me through this.
Safe to say, when I got home I thought to myself "he doesn't know anything about me, he's paid to tell me what's wrong with me and probably wants to make more money off of me and my insurance so he's asked me to come back to sessions".
But to be honest, I was in a head space where this seemed to be the one calling that would make me feel, if not happy, at least peaceful.
I didn't know - and I still do not know how to describe feeling anxiety and depression. I can say I want to cry all the time and my heart is sinking all the time. But I cannot describe the feeling and I guess that's what makes it difficult because I want to be able to explain myself to people who do not understand that this is an actual issue that exists.
Not sure if this applies to just desi's or maybe there are other nationalities of ignorant humans out there. I wish for you all to understand that there are adjustment disorders, multiple adjustment disorders caused by various things. I want you to know that someone in your life might be going through a hard time, they might need attention or some space, but figure it out by whatever signals you are getting. Don't make assumptions that they will be okay if you enter their life. They might hate that. Everyone copes differently. Life is not as easy as we'd like it to be. And please - do not tell them that they are not depressed or don't have anxiety.
If anything - now that I have been diagnosed - I feel it in my heart that it was the right diagnosis. I hated the therapist telling me I have the disorder, but it's because it's something that's looked down upon in my culture. But why? Why do we look down on such important matters. Matters that could be fatal for some and completely life changing for others?
I would wake up, wanting to not live anymore. I would want to stay in bed all day, not face anyone, whether it be family, friends, colleagues, acquaintances - literally not even the grocery guy who would get me my snacks for Netflix.
I would have tears in my eyes at all times. If anyone asked me if I was doing okay, I would either breakdown there and then, or I would remove myself from the situation and become distant with anyone who asked me if I'm okay. Because I could not bear answering a question about me.
I would close my eyes to try to go to a happy place, but that had just become dark by now and would bring me to tears again.
It wasn't easy. Nothing was easy.. And I am not 'cured' but I'm also not as bad as I was back in January. If I told anyone that this is the disorder I had, they would say one of the following:
No you don't have a disorder, trust me
It's all psychological, trust me
You're not depressed, trust me
You don't have anxiety, trust me
Stop being depressed
Stop being anxious
I can fix you
To all of those people - I really truly wish that you never ever have to go through what actual depression or anxiety is like. Please educate yourself. If you think one of those statements are about to come out of your mouth, pause for a second and tell the person you're sorry to hear that. Go home, research, then send the person an appropriate message if needed. But please, the last thing someone with an adjustment disorder wants is someone to say they are Mr/Ms. Know-It-All and that they are the cure to all problems or have all the answers.
I kept seeing my therapist and I did a few things that she's asked me to do, which if I have more than 2 readers, and if this ends up with someone who might need it, I'm going to share them below:
Do something that would give you a sense of accomplishment. It's the small wins that count. If you opened the jar of salsa for your chips. You're winning at life! Recognize your own personal strengths because no one else is going to tell you how well that email was or how great you look today. Be comfortable with yourself. Improve your coping skills. Whatever you did in the past to cope in certain situations, set those ideas on fire. You don't need your old dependent coping skills. Improve those coping skills and remember that you are your own best friend and biggest cheerleader. Be independent, make decisions and do what you gotta do.
Face your tears, face your fears and accept the challenges. You don't want to do anything, it's fine. You want to cry when you think about certain challenges, go for it. But once it's all out of your system, once you've cried it out, you need to face the fear or challenge because it'll hover around you unless you don't complete it. But do so at your own pace.
Try to live a healthy lifestyle, I can't speak much about having a good diet or physical activity. But I was recommended to take a 30 minute walk by myself. This helps getting fresh air, putting together all your thoughts that you've had throughout the day and counts as physical activity.
Make a plan to address certain problems when they occur instead of avoiding them. If you know that something is not right, find a solution on your own, again in your own time, but find a solution on your own and go address it. I learned that if you decide to address a problem, you'll be far more successful in finding a solution and facing the problem than when you are forced to be a in a situation where the problem needs to be addressed against your will.
Lastly, remain somewhat hopeful for the future. This is by far the most difficult. Out of the past 4 months, I probably had 4 days where I was hopeful for the future. But things will look up eventually. Keep thinking you've hit rock bottom, how much worse can your situation get? If it gets worse, you're already feeling low so what different does it make? If it gets better, congratulations to you.
We will be fine.
I keep reading this on basic hoe's captions but it feels quite fitting to end this blog on.
Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.
Thank you for reading a snippet of my life. It has not been easy to write. I do not mean to preach in any way, I only wanted to share my experience and opinions.
I am better than I was in January 2019.
I still cry from time to time.
I have my happy days and sad days.
Some days I cry tears of laughter, other days I cry tears of sadness.
Sometimes it happens on the same day.
I am not sure when I'll be completely okay, but I am beyond thankful and grateful for most of the people in my life that understand the situation I am in and what I am going through. Everyone that has given me the space to do my own research on my problems and learn what is best for me so that I can find a way to grow as a person.
- Sara Haseeb x