I struggled with anxiety and depression for longer than I can remember.
The reasons were many, but mostly, it was because of poor financials, war, an unstable country, loss of jobs, and most importantly, death and the loss of my loved ones.
As a consequence, I developed anger management issues and kept it all to myself.
I used to sit alone in my room, cry for hours, and wonder what was wrong with me. I felt lonely, worried, and hopeless.
I felt like I was the victim, so I avoided talking or sitting with anyone because I thought they would be talking about me behind my back. I would retreat to my room and face all sorts of uncomfortable physical symptoms alone: tears, a racing heart, nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and headaches.
When my physical symptoms kicked in, I used to beat myself up that I couldn’t stop them, but I couldn’t help feeling careless. I didn’t care about my body, health, and overall wellness. With time, I felt guilty about my oversensitivity, transparency, and negative thoughts. All of this kept me away from my loved ones and stopped me from interacting with them.
My depression forced me to cancel events and gatherings. But the most hurtful part was that my depression was never acknowledged. My friends thought it was a temporary feeling that would vanish the next day. But no one knew what was happening inside me, and I could never speak the truth because I was afraid to be labeled “crazy.”
Then I would retreat to my room more often, delving deeper into my loneliness and seclusion. Feeling like I had an unworthy life was my only secret, and I couldn’t share it with anyone without being judged or misunderstood.
After years of suffering, I once looked at the mirror; what I saw that day astonished me. I saw a pretty lady, but a smile was missing from her face. Family, friends, therapy, and antidepressants weren’t able to draw it for her. So I started talking to that lady.
I talked to myself and told her that depression wasn’t a disease. I told her that depression is a cloud that hovers above our minds and drops negative thoughts upon us. It makes us feel cynical and hopeless, and it eliminates our dreams and life purpose. That cloud makes us feel as if we want to terminate our lives because living seems to be too hard.
I looked at myself and told her she was strong, and she can make it through the cloud. As difficult as it was, I decided to become my own therapist. So I made a list of all the things that could have triggered my depression. I pinned down everything that drove me to that moment when I collapsed and felt like I didn’t belong.
I looked at myself and rebelled. With determination and faith, I decided to help myself rise. But in order to do that, I had to be honest with myself. I had to admit that I only appeared to be tough on the outside, but on the inside, I was weak, I was sensitive, I was vulnerable; and that was okay.
Here are 10 symptoms to watch out for:
1. We feel a constant, inexplicable need to feel loved and cared for.
2. We feel a constant fear of being judged, misunderstood, or of others identifying our flaws (even the ones that don’t exist). Consequently, we stay away from people or stay isolated.
3. We don’t feel confident enough, and we can’t trust anyone around us.
4. We suffer from constant emotional breakdowns that could be triggered by separation or conflicts with someone we love.
5. We go through persistent mood swings that could be triggered by our self-image, our age, our past, status, or life hardships.
6. We feel constant hopelessness and agony.
7. Other people’s negative opinions about us highly affect us, thinking we are worthless or a failure.
8. We tend to stay away from those who criticize and judge us because their words negatively guide our lives.
9. Enduring conflicts within our family, with family members, or friends.
10. Developing a self-care plan puts us down, and we feel it’s worthless.
Here are 10 ways we can help ourselves heal:
1. Love yourself above anything else, and be sure that every person has something that makes them special and unique.
2. Strengthen your faith, and be sure that all will be okay. Pray and ask for guidance.
3. I started healing from depression when I stopped telling myself that I was sick. Most of our panic attacks are the result of our negative state of mind. They’re based on fear, worry, and doubts. Heal your mind and your depression could subside.
4. Instead of focusing on your negative traits, focus on the rest of the world. Go for a walk or to the park and observe people walking around you.
5. Listen to music, dance, and read. Paint if you know how to. Go to the movies or exercise at home. Distract yourself with activities until they become a natural part of your day.
6. Stay connected with nature. Nature has healed me to a great extent. I usually meditate on the colors, the trees, the mountains, and the flowers. Being in nature has always provided me with a feeling of safety and comfort.
7. Build a social life and make new friendships.
8. Strengthen your self-confidence because without it, we can never move on.
9. Accept that things change. Nothing lasts forever—including sadness, joy, success, and failure.
10. Don’t stay in situations that put you down (especially failed relationships). Also, don’t accept to be in toxic situations, and don’t be dependent on others—especially if you are a sensitive soul like me.
Today, I know I’m not responsible for other people’s happiness. I am only responsible for mine. I can’t change the world, but I can change myself. As a result, I now choose my friends and my surroundings carefully.
Looking after myself is the most important thing to me, and I’ve come to accept that pain, death, and change are things outside of my control.
Instead of worrying about what I can’t change, I focus on my own actions and reactions. I love myself the way I am, and I know that sadness and pain might visit me anytime—and that’s okay.
Some might say that we can never heal from anxiety or depression, but I think with time, commitment, and patience, we can implement practices that could help us become better.
Nonetheless, if you feel you need therapy, please go for it because it is important and life-changing. In my case, I had to help myself first before anyone would help me.