Almost half of the people in the U.S. who have depression also have anxiety.
I am one of those people.
It wasn’t until about six months ago that I discovered this, but since I have, my anxiety and my depression have become much more manageable and my mental health has just become easier to understand in general.
I think there’s a major general misconception in the U.S. about mental illness. People seem to think that those dealing with mental illness can just get over it, change their mind, and choose to live without suicidal thoughts, self-harming, being anxiety ridden, etc. The fact of the matter is that is not possible. If I could wake up every morning and turn my lack of motivation into motivation, or my negative thoughts to positive ones, don’t you think I would? If it were that easy, I would have made that choice a long time ago.
Everyone’s journey will inherently be different, but there’s one thing everyone needs to keep in mind during their tough times: it is ok to ask for help. It is good to ask for help, in fact. I don’t know where I’d be if I’d never started asking for help. It’s also important to know that asking for help can look completely different for each person.
For me, asking for help was seeking out a counselor, somewhat against my own will. Though I made the decision to give counseling a chance three years ago, I wouldn’t have done it if important people in my life hadn’t encouraged me to just give it a try. I remember the first few times seeing my counselor felt a little odd. I didn’t talk about my feelings usually, so it was a big change for me. But man, three years down the road and I couldn’t be happier with my decision to see my counselor! I have made so much progress even just internally it amazes me. Having a “safe space” to talk to someone was what I needed to start on my road to recovery.
Eventually, my counselor Chris and I decided it’d be a good idea for me to try medication for my depression and anxiety. It was while we were discussing my medication options that it hit me how interconnected both mental illnesses were. During one session I literally said, “Do you think if I get my depression under control my anxiety will decrease too?” to which my counselor answered, “Yes.” I remember that night going home and researching the connections between depression and anxiety. I learned that in many people, having depression or anxiety can actually be the cause of the other. So, for me, I knew I had depression years ago; I didn’t know I had anxiety until more recently.
If you have anxiety, depression, or both, do not hesitate to seek help. Talk to someone you trust, call the Lifeline, get setup with a counselor, journal, start a blog, do whatever you need to help yourself. Try not to let your fear determine your decision. I was terrified to ask for help, but once I did I began feeling better. Above all else, if you’re struggling with anxiety, depression, or both, know that you are not alone.