My experience with anxiety and depression has been a long one. Unlike other people, who seem to go through life with dips and troughs of more difficult times, I have always believed my problems to be mainly biological. We have a long-running family history of depression and despite all the treatments I have tried, I have resigned myself to the belief that I will never fully ‘get over’ my problems. It hasn’t been until within the past year however, that I have learned to accept this fact and realise that I shouldn’t regard my ‘problems’ as problems, they are in fact, part of who I am.
Admittedly, I have tried different treatments including anti-depressants, online programmes and various CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) courses. To be completely honest, I have always felt that often, CBT can seem very much a treatment targeted to those that have a problem that they can name. For example, if you have anxiety attacks directly after an event, such as a car crash, then CBT can help change your way of thinking to help you deal with this. What I have always struggled with is the process of pin-pointing what my problem actually is!
When diagnosed with anxiety and depression, I always accepted only the depression part of it. Perhaps this is because depression is more talked about and doesn’t make me feel quite so out of control. I am not sure. However, only recently, I have thought more about the anxiety I feel. It seems to have lasted longer and become more prominent in recent years, which makes me think that perhaps this was the underlying problem.
It is hard to explain exactly what my ‘problem’ is. Having googled everything under the sun, I have come to the conclusion that it is a generalised anxiety disorder (GAD). I feel tightness in my chest, I begin to shake and have an uncontrollable urge to run away or cry when I feel scared about something. However, often I can find no rational reason to feel frightened over the activity in question. It can be random, like driving on a busy road, getting lost in a city or doing something unfamiliar.
I recently read a really interesting interview article about the model Jodie Kidd. She also suffered anxiety attacks and like me, tended to deal with them by continually trying to face her fears and get involved in a million different things at once. I would continually put myself in situations that aggravated my anxiety because I refused to accept and allow it to control the career I want to do, my university course and my social life. Of course, this means that I am in a state of anxiety much of the time. However, now I feel more secure, my university course is going well and I have a great circle of supportive friends around me, I now see that there is a way out.
Rather than trying to ‘cure’ my problems, I have started to look at things in a different way. I recently downloaded the ‘Headspace’ app for my phone and have been using it to do guided meditation for ten minutes on a daily basis. It has made me realise that the mind is able to be trained and controlled through breathing to allow thoughts to come and go, but not completely take over. Although it is unlikely that I will ever fully understand the reasons that I feel anxious, it has given me hope that there are ways to control those feelings and stop them from controlling me and what I choose to do.