Next week I am finally getting the professional help I need to work through my latest bout with Anxiety and Depression. I can’t wait.
By the time of my appointment it will have been six weeks since this hell began. Six weeks! And nearly every day has included some mental and physical anguish attached to these often-connected illnesses.
Some days, in addition to Depression totally sapping me of energy and positive outlook, it saddles me with a brain that feels like a brick — a uniform, dense, heaviness that nothing can penetrate. Other days I’d describe it as a lead blanket covering my brain — a heavy and thick coating trapping the soft and fragile organ beneath. My brain, I feel, would break were it not for pressure keeping anything from moving.
If it’s Anxiety that’s got ahold of me, not only am I jittery, unfocused, and fearful of nearly any change in sound or pattern. I also might feel like a restrictive band is looped around my chest, making it difficult to breathe deeply from my lungs. Other days it’s more like the restriction is coming from what feels like a collapsed throat.
In fact, I almost always find it physically hard to talk when anxious.
(Sometimes when I dream during Anxiety-filled times, my nightmares involve me unable to open my mouth … I feel unable to communicate in any way whatsoever.)
Anxiety can also create sweating … lots and lots of sweating. Oh, and dizziness. Definitely dizziness.
I share these descriptions of real and perceived physical pain and incapability to make clear: Depression is not just normal sadness; Anxiety isn’t just normal nervousness.
Sadness — a deep sadness — may be a symptom of Depression. But it is much more.
Nervousness may be a symptom of Anxiety. But again, that’s barely scratching the surface of what an afflicted person may be feeling.
The emotional pain may be a much more intense version of sadness or fear. Or it may be on a completely different plane. You may feel like you can’t move, like you will be trapped forever, like you are about to die.
And you can’t just snap out of it!
Now … have these demons come at you at the same time … they often do for millions of sufferers. Some variation and gradation of these symptoms describe prolonged periods of many of the days I’ve lived for the past six weeks.
I need it to stop. I need help.
Now, this isolation wasn’t my choice. I have not gone without professional help due to my own inaction. (Um, okay, I did hold off on trying to get help for the first couple weeks.)
But after that, the lapse in time came because my prior psychiatrist has retired. And it took awhile and some courage — if I may say so — to begin looking for and then find my next … um, doctor? … therapist? … psychiatrist?
(Actually, I am not exactly sure what to call my next “pro at helping Michael make it through head-hell.” But I’ve read up on the acronyms that follow this person’s last name. She qualified to help me and has helped others.)
I am not exactly sure why I wrote the passage above. I just know that I’ve been trying to write it for days. And it finally got out.
Side note (and an attempt to speak up for some friends who also struggle with Depression and Anxiety): If you know someone who is depressed or anxious and you want to be helpful. Do not — do not — make an attempt at empathy by saying: “Yeah, we all have our bad days.” You will only make the depressed / anxious person feel more alone and less likely to come to you for help.