My 6 Shields Against Anxiety and Depression
The following piece is written by Rhea, a talented young woman who is surviving anxiety and depression. The illustrations are by Hannah Daisy who draws “Boring Self-Care”, a way of celebrating acts of self-care which are often difficult for people with mental health concerns to do. Do take a look at her Instagram page @makedaisychains.
Anxiety is panic, it’s fear, it’s insecurity. It makes the body shiver and chokes up the throat. One may cry, another may shout but once the feeling of panic takes over it feels like the world is going to collapse. On the other hand, depression is losing hope, it’s a feeling of being stuck in a deep dark pit which results in a physical lock down. Anxiety is restlessness and depression is a feeling to never get up again. When both of them combine together, they result in a different kind of state. A state where one may want to lie on the bed all day long, but be anxious about not getting things done. It becomes like a cycle, where depression doesn’t let the person move and anxiety makes the person feel miserable about not moving.
I am someone who has been struggling with anxiety and depression at the same time. Sometimes it’s too difficult to handle my own self but I have to do so. Following are somethings that have helped me and maybe in some way I am able to help you by sharing what I feel could be done.
This one is a common advice given to people going through anxiety. The most common exercise told is to perform square breathing, i.e. to take a deep breath and count till five, hold the breath while counting till five and then release it, by doing so imagine the lines of a square being drawn.
The problem is that when someone has an attack, it gets extremely difficult to breathe. The solution is to try, first try and start breathing properly, then try various techniques. If the square breathing doesn’t work, just take deep breaths. Breathing is a meditative technique. The focus is to get the attention to the breath and make the person come back to the present moment.
De-cluttering is both a mental and a physical process.
First, focusing on the mental part. Take a page or open a word document (if you are a digital person), then write down your thoughts, just rant and vent it out. This may make you feel better. Once you feel better, open another page or another document, and make a list of things that needs to be done. After the list is ready, number each activity on a priority basis. If, it is too difficult to write then talk to someone and let it out, if that is also not possible then open the front camera of your phone and talk, also, you can make your lists on your phone recordings itself. When you prioritize, try to keep the first activity as something that you may like.
Second step, i.e. physical decluttering is important — this is, because your environment will affect your mental health in a lot of ways. Along with this, your physical environment is also a reflection of your mental health. When my depression started, my room was a mess. I didn’t eat, I didn’t clean, and sometimes I didn’t even take baths or brush my teeth. Not taking care of myself had adverse effects, it made me more depressed, and effected my physical health as well.
So clean your surroundings and take care of yourself. For , for someone going through depression, it is very very tough but we just need to drag ourselves and do things step by step. If it seems impossible, ask for a loved one to help, even if it takes times, it’s alright, but do the small things and take care of yourself. Declutter yourself both physically and mentally.
3) GO OUT IN NATURE/TAKE A WALK
No matter how difficult it feels to step out of the house, go out, and spend time with nature. Take a walk and take deep breaths. Nature is an antidote for a lot of things. For me, it makes me feel connected and alive. Also, walking is a not a very exhausting form of workout which will help your body feel better and healthy.
4) DON’T INTOXICATE YOURSELF
Anxiety and depression are conditions which may make you dependent on substances like tobacco or liquor. Don’t drink yourself to sleep and don’t smoke whenever an attack occurs. It makes what you are experiencing more difficult to handle and is not a solution for the problems. Trust yourself and seek help, but don’t rely on any kind of substance/drug (unless prescribed) to make yourself feel better. Instead, eat healthy — a good meal, fruits, and lots of water.
5) DON’T LEAVE YOUR MEDICATION/DON’T OVERDOSE
I have had real examples in my life where a person left their medication because they felt it is not having any effects, another one overdosed because they wanted the medication to kick in fast. The medication prescribed during a mental illness has withdrawal symptoms if left suddenly and overdosing on anything is harmful. Having a mental health condition can make your rational thoughts go haywire, but you have to keep certain control over yourself. If the doctor has prescribed you any medication, take it on time. If you feel it’s not right then talk to the doctor and get it changed but don’t put yourself through additional trauma by leaving it or overmedicating yourself.
The most important and necessary step is to believe in yourself and your strengths that you will get out of it. Try to focus on small things which makes you feel grateful, start doing things which you like, maybe reading a book or watching a series or dancing or even meeting people. Look at yourself and how far you have come, just believe in yourself and keep going on.