When you’re in school, you have a clear path drawn out at all times. And where you are changes every time your classes change. You may have THE WORST teacher/professor but it’s okay because you’re going to have completely different ones next semester/year. This is perfect for my personality because I love a path with clear steps. I’m a planner.
This summer, I came to terms with the fact that I don’t love my job. As soon as I let myself feel what I was actually feeling, I got restless and NEEDED to figure out the next steps. Should I stay with the job I have and make it work better for me or should I get a new job? This huge question has been looming over me for weeks, I don’t like not having answers, and I’m a horribly impatient person, so I forced myself into figuring out the decision. As we all know, my mental health is fragile right now so feeling like a failure because I don’t like my job and feeling like even more of a failure because I couldn’t figure out where to go next sent me into depression. And then I got so wrapped up in figuring out what I needed to do next that I kept feeling worse.
Depression is a very lonely and scary place to be. And if you have anxiety, it’s still there making it worse. You know that what you’re feeling is wrong but nothing works to fix it. The feelings of anger, frustration, and fear are intense and take up most of your mental space. I lost all the confidence and love for myself I had built up and they were replaced with anger at myself. I knew I didn’t want to feel this way so I kept trying to do things to make me feel better. All of the negative feelings I had toward myself started to show up physically. For the past few weeks I had a horrible feeling in the pit of my stomach that wouldn’t go away and a heart that was beating way too fast, all the time. And to top it all off, it was happening during my birthday, which is usually my favorite day of the entire year. I was so desperately trying to get out of it, that every effort I made just made me feel more frustrated.
There’s a point where you realize that the train has left the station and you’re never going to be able to catch up on your own. For me that point was when I was so angry and frustrated that I threw my phone against the wall, and it completely broke. It was 2 AM and I just got home after being separated from my friends at the bars. This happens all the time and normally I would have just said “oh well” but because of my mental state, the instance made me feel intense anger. I was scared and tried to talk myself out of it. The thing is, you can’t always rationalize emotions, sometimes you just have to be patient and ride them out. But I didn’t want to feel that way so I kept trying to stop it. In that moment I channeled all of my anger into my phone and instantly regretted it. I immediately saw how out of control I was feeling and decided that it was time to talk to my doctor about getting on medication.
When I set out on this journey to deal with my anxiety and be happier and healthier all around, I wanted to do it without the help of medication. There are so many tools and exercises available out there that it seemed like I would be able to do it on my own, with the help of my therapist. I knew it was going to be difficult and that I would have to be patient, but I thought if I did it without the help of medication, I would be able to build the strongest possible foundation for my future. If I established good habits and gave my mind and body what it needed, everything else would fall into place. And, for a while, it was working and I was starting to see results. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that there would be set backs and that this isn’t going to be just a straight path to becoming healthy. I felt like such a failure that I had let myself get this bad. I should have caught it sooner and done something about it. Now, after a little time to sit with the decision, I know that the problem lies within my brain chemistry and we have medicine to balance those chemicals. This is the step I should be taking and it doesn’t have to be forever.
The impossibly high standards I put on myself tend to set me up for failure, but our culture and popular media was affecting me too. I’d say that we probably all see at least one thing every day about how to follow your passion, find your calling, figure out the perfect career, etc. There is so much pressure to love your job that it felt like the only way to be happy. You spend most of your week at work so you should love every second of it, right? While it is great to stay motivated to make your life better, it’s also dangerous to feel like there’s only one way or that it needs to happen immediately.
Everything about being happy always comes down to being happy with the present moment. This is a struggle for everyone but anxiety and depression make it that much harder. I’m working on getting back into the now and being patient with life. I’m only 22 and feeling lost is exactly where I should be. I’m nowhere near being done with this but I am starting to see the changes again, which makes me more motivated to keep trying.
It feels weird to be publishing something this personal on the internet, but it is part of my mental health journey and that’s the reason I’m blogging. It took me a long time to write this post and I deleted and completely restarted it more than a few times, but I’ve started feeling better in this process. Ever since I started writing papers, my teachers/professors have always told me I need to flesh things out more and go deeper. I’ve always had trouble putting my thoughts and feelings into words. In digging deeper to really explain it, I went deeper into why I’ve been feeling this way. There are a ton of external stressors but it had to be deeper to get to the root of it.