ARE YOU DEPRESSED OR ANXIOUS? LEARNING THE DIFFERENCE

For anyone that’ s ever felt the feeling of being anxious, you’ll know it’s far from a pleasant sensation.  But imagine living with that same feeling, times by about ten, and for long stretches of time?  You’d be surprised how many people in the world, including me, have had to live their life like this, at some point.

My bouts of anxiety all related to the times in my life where I was cruising steadily towards depression.  It was that foreboding feeling that as the captain of my ship, I was about to steer myself into a rock.  It’s literally a hardcore feeling of dread that makes you short of breath, or at times you forget to breathe at all, until finally that huge sigh is let out.

It probably started back in the early 90’s when I was in the throes of the unhappy end of a long term relationship.  I knew that the love affair was over, and that things weren’t going well enough for me to continue living in England away from family and friends.

I loved this man very much but I knew we weren’t quite right together.  I made him insecure, and he was forever doubting me and accusing me of things that simply weren’t there.  I tried to tell him time and time agin that things weren’t good, but he buried his head in the sand and usually tried to drink away our issues every weekend.

The problem was, I was now living each day not being true to myself.  Alone in the UK, going through the motions of our relationship, knowing damn well we didn’t stand a chance.

I couldn’t bear the thought of saying goodbye, so for years I held on.  As he was English, I knew once I admitted that we were over, I would never see him again, and in a sense, it would feel like he’d died.  I’d never see him again, and the finality of that made it very very hard.. So I sat there, and internally rotted.

It was on my mind every day.  Bottled up inside, rather than letting it out.  It was like I was too scared to breath in case the truth came flowing out.

My boss said to me one day, “Do you realise you sigh all the time?”  I hadn’t noticed but when she pointed it out I realised I did.  I didn’t know why at the time, but it was because I was dealing with a lot of anxiety and I was just forgetting to breath.

This is how anxiety begins.  Not being authentic about something in your life.  And then it gets worse.

A bit further down the relationship track, I started having panic attacks.  It would always start the same, a small sharp pain near my ovaries, and then I’d black out.  My body was saying “enough.  You aren’t listening to us.”

On one occasion, as I struggled to breath, trying to race out to get fresh air, I didn’t make it and ended up with six stitches in my head.

We eventually did break up and it was still the hardest thing to do.  I still can’t bare seeing him walk away that day.  It hurt so much that I decided to push back the grief and simply move on.

I remember someone telling me one day that it takes half the time you were in a relationship for your to get over it.  So I figured I was in for about 3 and a half years worth of pain, and then I’d move on.  I’m not sure why I never thought that dealing with it on the spot, and breaking down for a bit, was never an option, but I just decided to block it, and him all out.

Over the course of ten whole years, my grief bubbled away inside like a pot that I kept throwing the lid back on.   I would treat myself like a punching bag most weekends, burning the candles at both ends.

My next stop was depression, and the one after could have been death.  It wasn’t I’m pleased to say, but it’s all about reading the signs along the way.  I chose to race past mine back in those days.

Anxiety is now being recognised in it’s own right as an illness. Beyond Blue are even talking about it these days as just as serious as depression.  My advice is start looking at how you’re living your life, and what is troubling you.  Are you being honest about things?  Have I asked for help or support?  If not, do so.

I believe anxiety is nature and the universe’s way of saying ‘you’re not being honest’, we’re showing you an uncomfortable Amber light in the traffic of your day to day life. If you choose to keep going ahead, you just might hit the wall!

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