my depressions & anxiety story
I thought I'd try write out my story tonight as I'm really struggling and just need somewhere to vent.
The first half of 2020 was perhaps the happiest I had ever been. I've had depression and anxiety since 2012, and although it was stressful, it was manageable. I was content with my relationships, my friendship circle was wide, I was working, losing weight, feeling confident - everything was absolutely perfect. Around September I started going into a depression, which I thought I could handle, that eventually collapsed into a lot of health anxiety (you might be able to see my old posts from that time). TL;DR after a dentist appointment I became obsessed that there was something wrong with me and that I'd die or my parents would die. This climaxed into two major panic attacks where I nearly passed out, and several weeks in a disassociated state. I left my job and just tried focusing on myself. I started medication that worked wonders on my overall mood, anxiety and disassociation for a few months and at the start of 2021 I got to move out from my parents place and move in with all my friends, and that was admittedly pretty fun and exciting, though I still struggled within. The medication had stopped my panic attacks, but after a few months the problems came back, and I still struggled in finding joy and peace.
I moved out with my partner in May 2021 and endured the lockdowns, which exacerbated my symptoms. I was in a disassociated state for several months, trying to hold down a job and work on our relationship, but this didn't pan out. My partner wasn't very supportive during this period and would put a lot of guilt and blame onto me for my situation. Christmas passed, my birthday passed, my pet passed away and everything moved by me in a blink of an eye with no emotional resonance.
Fast forward to today and here I am. I ended things with my partner, I'm not working, I've tapered off my medication with help from my psych and it's much the same. For the last several weeks the disassociation is gone, but I still feel zapped of all life. Nothing makes me especially happy anymore and I've always got a nervous ball of tension being squeezed in my abdomen. Enjoying the moment is really hard; I have brainfog a lot of the time - so much so that any really *deep* or complex conversations make my thoughts really hard to organise, or when I meet new people I struggle to know what to say and do. If I could be half as happy as I was in 2020, just for a day, I'd cry.
Im sorry you are struggling I understand it’s hard to feel this way.
I understand that the health anxiety you went through would have been really hard it sounded quite severe.
When I read that you became obsessed that you thought you would die or your parents would die this rang a bell inside me because I went through something very similar………. I was diagnosed with OCD…… obsessive compulsive disorder.. I have now recovered from this disorder.
Where you ever diagnosed with anything?
Do you still have obsessive intrusive thoughts?
I always had a tension in my abdomen aswell I learned this was the anxiety. I felt as though I was constantly running from something.
I also couldn’t enjoy being in the moment because I was constantly in my head.
I always had brain fog and I couldn’t concentrate on deep conversations.
You really can be happy again! You really can get yourself back an even better version…….. don’t give up hope.
Everything I explained to you above that I felt has totally lifted and I’m living my best life.
You can too…
Hi Petal!! Thank-you so much for your reply.
I was diagnosed with depression and generalized anxiety disorder. The OCD around death and health anxiety has completely gone away so I'm more or less just living with that now; the disassociation kicked in after major panic attacks and possibly from my medication which I no longer take.
It makes me so happy to hear that I'm not alone and people have experienced what I'm experiencing. I'll never give up hope - I know deep inside me somewhere is a confident, charismatic young man in-love with life.
Do you think you could share how you got over all these? What are some immediate life changes I can do now? Also could you maybe go into the brainfog a bit? When I try to explain it to people they don't seem to understand. I went out on a date last week and it was like I didn't have any thoughts at all or that they were scrambled. I was more or less relying on sheer instinct to further conversations. Same as when I get into deep conversations - sorting through and keeping up with people is extremely difficult.
Thanks again! 🙂
Thanks for the reply! I'm glad you can sympathise. Yes stress is the likely trigger, though when I get into deep conversations that aren't necessarily stressful it can still come along.
I try to rehearse answers in my head and I think it stops me from absolutely flopping a date or conversation, but it's still very distressing before starting a conversation and overall the interactions don't feel good if I'm just winging it. At least for me, I ask myself what the point is, if I can't even enjoy it?
Lately what I've been doing is trying to accept that I will be anxious and stressed, and if it does get the better of me, it's not the end of the world. Instead of running from my anxiety or stress, I try to embrace it, and accept the consequences. Still, I wasn't always like this and I'd like to get closer to where I was before.
Im so glad that the OCD has completely gone away for you.
Im so glad that you will never give up hope……. You are very resilient.
The journey towards my recovery was that a journey it was a marathon and it took a lot of perseverance but it all paid off.
During my recovery I was put on a antidepressant for my anxiety I believe in the beginning it made things worse before it got better but it did get better.
I did a 8 week group therapy ( it was an intervention into the OCD) in this therapy I learned alot of strategies and tools ………..
I learned what my OCD cycle was
I learned how to disengage from it
I learned mindfulness
Mundane attention training
I practice being present and calm ( I try to stay in this state daily) it takes practice
I learned to change my mindset from negative to positive.
I highly recommend meditation it taught me that I wasn’t my thoughts but the watcher of my thoughts.
My brain fog lifted over time…….. I believe that my medication started to work and I was also getting a grip on what I was taught in therapy.
While I had brain fog my brain just felt scrambled…… it was a very confusing and scary time.
The tension in my stomach vanished over time as my anxiety started to improve…… I use to run from this feeling……… I learned to just sit with this feeling and let it slowly go on its own.
When in comes to conversations I really practice being very present and I try to put my full attention on the conversation. ( this also takes practice).
I practice gratefulness every day
I meditate every day
I also practice reiki and I do this daily on my self.
I’ve leaned how to find my inner calm…. I also work on this daily.
I do random acts of kindness and I also talk to myself kindly.
I decided who I wanted to be as a person and I work on this daily.
Maybe you could try some of the above and see if it’s helpful for you.
It all takes a lot of perseverance and practice but it will be well worth it.
Please ask me anything
Thank-you for the thoughtful replies. I thought I'd give an update really quick:
The good news that the brainfog has dissipated - I'm not sure if it was disassociation, or just really bad depression/anxiety or what but thankfully I can definitely think a bit clearer.
There's been ups and downs throughout this though. First of all, I'm definitely ruminating on my thoughts way too much. Specifically, I've developed an anxiety or OCD around *checking in* and comparing myself to who I was when I was happy. I'll be playing a video game or watching TV and all I can think is "why can't I be happy? why doesn't this feel like it used to?" More often than not I feel like I'm observing my own feelings, rather than being in them. I've also started to become really scared that I won't be able to come out of this spiral - it's been over a year since I had any semblance of feeling "normal" or comfortable; my last experience with medication gave short-term relief but eventually started to work against me (which makes me not want to try it again). I've got a strong fear that this will be the rest of my life - breakdown after breakdown, new medication after new medication, until everyone is driven away from me. Or if I continue under this much mental stress I'll start developing other illnesses (schizophrenia, BPD, etc.)
I've also had a fair few strange events / breakdowns. The most recent one was just a few days ago - I was with my best friend for most of the day and we were just doing the usual rounds of activities. I felt unusually unanxious, but still ruminating a lot, so I decided we should go to the city for some fun. We went to a gig my friend was playing at - I was not feeling particularly anxious or scared in the immediate sense - when all of a sudden my jacket felt really heavy, the drink in my hand was very cold and I was very aware of just how many people were around me. I had really disturbing intrusive thoughts and had to leave to catch my thoughts. The next day I opened up to my parents about it and they were concerned - so concerned they started suggesting taking me to a mental health facility, which absolutely shook me to the core. I even questioned if they had the best intentions at heart, or if they were starting to think of me as totally broken. I honestly felt like I was on the brink of just totally snapping from reality. Luckily I was able to calm down and they assured me it's okay.
I guess I'd just like to know what people think this all is.
I'm so sorry you are going through this I understand how hard it is.
From my lived experience of severe anxiety OCD I went through something really similar in regards to the spiral you are explaining.
I was stuck in the vicious cycle of OCD this cycle can be unrelenting until you learn what it is and then how to break free of it. This is something you need to be taught we don't just know what it is and how to disengage.
I feel very grateful that I was able to attend an OCD clinic that specialised in OCD, the health professionals that where at this clinic were amazing and new exactly how to help me.
I was taught many tools and strategies at this clinic it took perseverance and practice to master these skills but now that I have mastered them, it was time well spent because I'm now free of the vicious cycle of OCD.
Two of the stages of the vicious cycle of OCD is annalysing and also rumination, I believe from what you have described you are annalysing and ruminating I believe you are getting stuck here.
You can learn when you are doing this and then disengage by simply bringing your attention back to the present moment..... it takes practice to become aware when you are doing this... meditation is very helpful for this, do you practice meditation?
I understand that you have a strong fear, I also had this but this was also part of my OCD cycle because I was catastrophizing, I also feared I wasn't going to get out of the cycle. Please know this is part of the cycle so when you find yourself doing this try to disengage by bringing your attention back to something in the present moment.
OCD is a vicous cycle but you really CAN learn to break free of it, I have and YOU CAN.
I'm sorry you have experienced breakdowns I also experienced these they are horrible, I believe the intrusive thoughts are part of OCD I understand how debilitating they can be they can really stop you in your tracks.
In therapy you can learn how to challenge these thought and move past them or simply just learn to watch them and not get caught up in them.
I'm also sorry that your medication didn't help you, you could discuss medication again with your gp if you want to.
I was put on a antidepressant to help me with my anxiety and I also did therapy I believe both go hand in hand.
You could also discuss with your gp about options for therapy in your area, I believe OCD is a specialised area.
Please ask me anything you really can learn how to manage this and also master it.
Thank-you so much for your encouraging words. I really hope I can break free of this nightmare - I've got hope, and will. I want nothing more than to be better, to be comfortable and content in my mind and life again.
I have practiced meditation before and even have a subscription to Headspace. During panic attacks I've been taught to do some deep-breathing and counting, however I find it really hard to focus on thetask and I inevitably start thinking about other things. Sometimes when my mind is racing and I'm just trying to close things down or sleep I start getting very vivid imaginations of things on my mind - normally video games or videos, or conversations I might have with people. These don't happen for long and I snap out of them pretty quickly, albeit a bit shaken.
That being said, I haven't been very consistent with it. Different therapists have stressed to me that even when I'm not anxious I should practice these techniques; however when I'm not anxious - I feel good! - and the last thing I want to do is some breathing exercises :S
One of the only things that sometimes breaks my ruminations/analysis/OCD is screen time - whether it's my phone, video games, or occasionally television. However I've also noticed that this might be exacerbating my disassociation - after extended sessions I find reality to be kinda 'trippy' for lack of a better term. I'm wondering if you had any input on this.
The medication definitely helped with my OCD, anxiety and depression, for a good 6 months. I'm starting to open myself up to the idea of trying another one, and then maintaining the healthy habits that should go along with them.
Again thank-you so much for your encouraging words. They mean a lot. I hope you're well and thank-you for being there for me and so many other people.
I feel for you so much as you work hard to manage all the upsetting ways you're experiencing life. The fact that you're constantly finding ways to move forward while struggling with a number of challenges speaks volumes when it comes to your nature.
I can't help but wonder whether you're experiencing some of the extremes that some folk actually work toward achieving. I know this might sound a bit strange so I'll elaborate a little:
- On the spectrum of pure instinct through to pure thinking/analytics, there are the extremes and everything in between. In a state of pure instinct or intuition, there's no thinking as everything just naturally comes to mind, without thinking. To the other extreme, being purely analytical (a human processor) can feel like a form of torture as we're analysing/processing everything, to the extreme
- On the spectrum of pure feeling/sensitivity through to pure detachment/insensitivity, there are the extremes and everything in between. In a state of pure feeling/sensitivity, you can feel everything from your thoughts, imagination (imagery that comes to mind) and the impact of other people's words through to feeling the seems in your socks, the energy of the music you're hearing and the intention of the person across the room. Pure detachment/insensitivity involves no feeling/sensing
- On the spectrum of pure imagination through to pure reality (what appears as real), there are the extremes and everything in between. While imagination's great and rather handy at times, pure imagination when it's ongoing can be an absolute trip and a pretty scary one at times. Not sure whether Salvador Dali was tripping when he painted those seriously warped clocks on canvas but you get the gist. Pure imagination can definitely feel like a trip. At the other extreme, pure 'reality' can feel like a form of torture that we can't get out of - a job we hate, a depressing relationship and so on
List goes on when it comes to the extremes. Btw, when I used to get silent migranes it was stressful before I found out what they were. They would ramp up my hearing ability, so I could feel sound. They would trigger my nervous system, so I could feel it doing it's thing. They would relax parts of my body, to the point of numbness and they wouldn't allow me to mentally process pretty much anything other than what I could feel. The brain's a crazy thing, hey.
While some practice entering into a pure state, others find themself looking for ways to get out.