After losing my Dad, life really started to throw one curveball after another. I really felt like I was being knocked down over, and over, and over again. But with God’s grace and the help of others, I was able to graduate High School on time and was accepted into the University of my choice. At this point, I was reminded that life still goes on, no matter what.
The sad truth is that after losing a loved one, no matter how old you are, many inner battles arise. Depression and anxiety hits you like you’d never imagine. The year of 2014 was a complete blur but I do remember not knowing how to cope or mourn ‘the right way’. I didn’t know how to carry on with life. I mean, how was I supposed to be excited about University, or anything for that matter, when my Dad just died? And what about my Ma? Since I’m an only child, I felt that I had an immense amount of responsibility to make sure she was okay at all times. But by August of that year, I had a gut feeling that I should continue on with my life because after all, that’s what my Dad would’ve wanted.
During my time at University (Go Laurier Goldenhawks!!!), I was diagnosed with severe Depression and Anticipatory Anxiety. I struggled deeply. I had absolutely no idea how to deal with all the sudden changes. Let alone, living away from home for the first time. My mental health became a literal punching bag… that was about to break. Although I’ve come a long way, I will never forget what it was like to battle with severe Depression & Anxiety. The sad truth is that Depression is a Universal Struggle. According to Mental Health & Addictions Canada (MDSC), Depression is currently the 3rd leading cause of disease burden (the impact of a health problem measured by financial cost, mortality, morbidity, or other indicators) worldwide. In fact, they predict that Depression will be the #1 leading cause of disease burden by 2030. I add these stats not scare you nor worry you, but to emphasize how truly important our Mental Well-Being is. I also feel that we need to be reminded of what Mental health actually means because although we hear the term being thrown around, we still suffer from depression and anxiety. Mental Health is the ideal balance that we strive for in an imperfect life by learning the coping skills to deal with the (inevitable) ups and downs the best we can (MDSC, 2019).
With this said, I’m extremely grateful to be able to reflect on all the trials and hardships during those years. They have taught me some of the most important life lessons which continue to help me carry on whenever I face difficulties & disappointments today. So, I want to share these 5 things that I’ve learned about Depression & Anxiety with hopes to help you, whether you are currently in a difficult time of your life, or, as a point of reference in your journey of self-growth & development!
5 Lessons I’ve Learned about Depression & Anxiety:
- Feelings that come with Depression & Anxiety vary from person to person. There is no ‘right way’ to feel and there is no universal plan on how to deal with it.
- You shouldn’t feel ashamed for feeling the way you do. Although your thoughts may not be the truth, what you feel is real, and therefore, it is crucial to put your mental health first above all else. Remember, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
- The world constantly pulls you into the anxiety of disappointment due to the fear of ‘unmet expectations’. Everyone is bound to experience these feelings at some point in their lives so it’s your job to find healthy outlets (ie: journaling, counseling, hobbies) so that you can continue to move forward without suppressing how you really feel. Besides, the only opinion that should matter is YOURS.
- Even when you feel completely alone, you need to remind yourself that you are NEVER alone. There is an overabundance of resources to help you cope but with this said, you are the ONLY one that can make the decision to help yourself. Besides, your family and friends love & care about you more than you know and will always be there for you.
- The feelings that come with Depression & Anxiety is NOT permanent. It may not feel like it in the moment, especially during a panic attack, but this all too, shall and will pass. It’s important to focus on your breathing during times like these and to find ways to ground yourself. Try taking a deep breath in and while you exhale, think of exhaling out your worries and doubts. What helped me too was to note 5 things that I can see, 5 things that I can hear, and 5 things that I can feel to remind me that even if I may not feel stable and my mind is elsewhere, I am physically here and am okay in this moment.
Most importantly, It’s Okay not to be Okay!
What is your story or some of the lessons you’ve learned when struggles & disappointments come your way?