I'm new here - my experience with anxiety and depression
I've just joined the forums and I'm eager to read about people's experiences and what they've been doing to find help.
I'm a 24-year-old student of psychological science. I love playing my guitar, petting dogs, and spending hours rotting my brain cells on TikTok.
As a teenager, I was one of those people who thought you could think yourself out of a mental crisis. Teenagers experience emotions differently so when my first girlfriend experienced depression, I found it hard to understand. Then, towards the end of my 18th year I started struggling with anxiety. I was having trouble fitting in socially at university, and struggling with my coursework. I was working up to three jobs at the time, on top of my schoolwork. To add to the stress, a group of friends that I was fond of broke up, and my neuroticism turned them away from me. It wasn't until then that I realised I had an issue. Afterwards it took almost a year to build myself back to normalcy.
The things that really helped was recognising when I was embracing negative thought patterns and romanticising my depressive episode. I think I had convinced myself that I was the main character in a book, without realising that it's not the suffering that endears us to fictional characters, but how they work themselves out of their suffering that matters. I started a band, I went to shows, I joined a climate action group, I dropped my ego, and I learned to listen to others instead of egocentrically emotionally spewing over them.
You might recognise that much of this solution involved some pretty harsh critical reflection, so this was also not a perfect solution. Years later, after a bad breakup, I started to feel anxiety and depression symptoms again, only this time the solution was not to break apart my personality and squeeze it back together like some gory jigsaw puzzle. My biggest breakthrough with my psychologist was when she asked me verbatim "How much self punishment is enough? At what point do you say it's time to accept that even though you could have done better, it's time to accept that and move on."
It took me years, but I learned how to critically evaluate my actions and how they effect others, but I have to remember not to self-flagellate and force myself to suffer for every little mistake, and I'm still learning. Plus music, hobbies, and social connections are immeasurably helpful.
Who relates to this experience?
Hello Whimbo, thanks for joining the forums.
To answer 'how much self punishment is enough' is not that easy to answer because if you're caught up in any type of mental illness this can affect you either physically and/or mentally or even both, and if you are stuck in some form of depression, you can't answer this because you don't know what it means as there is too much going on.
If they say 'it's time to move on', and I'm not disagreeing with you, but sometimes people are so blocked up with not knowing how to move on, they want to be given ways on how to do this, although this doesn't mean they understand what's being said or whether they can fulfil these suggestions.
Playing music, doing the hobbies you fancy and establishing social connections is a great way to begin this, but it's still possible this won't be enough to fulfil our ambitions.
People are prone to make mistakes and we should not punish ourselves, it's being able to get back on our feet and continue on.
People's experiences are very unique and mine is no different!
In my classes we've been taught to think of some (but not all) disorders as partially relating to primary and secondary gains. For me, my self-punishment was perpetuated as a conditioned response in terms of secondary gains. I found that the stricter I was on myself, the more I was rewarded; friendship, work success, better grades. That taught me to be even harder on myself and I never got to learn when enough was enough until the self-punishment overcame the reward, and a psychologist helped me understand and intervene that. This is all part of the many reasons I wanted to study psychology.
As a student, I often think about how I can use my learnings to explain my own behaviour and experiences, but I'm not capable of confidently asserting anything about other people's experiences, so I never would.
Thanks for reading!