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How I’m Managing My Debilitating Anxiety and Depression

Volume 105 - seven minute read

Dennis Cortés
Oct 19, 2018 · 7 min read

October 19th, 2018

Feels good to say that publicly. The past few weeks have been pretty tough for me on a personal level and I’m not someone to bring up personal issues often. But, doing almost anything right now it really tough for me and as I was looking for ways to cope with my anxiety, I thought I should share where I am at and what has and hasn’t been helping me.

I wake up in the middle of the night sweating with a high heart rate and getting out of bed is one of the hardest tasks I’ll face. Some days are better than others, some days I want to be completely alone and other days I fear the thought of being alone. Some days I feel I’m starting to get better, then the next day I fall back into a state of overwhelming fear or depression.

I’ve had anxiety and bits of depression in the past, but it’s never manifested itself this way to this extent. I’ve been fortunate to not have to deal with this in the past and never fully grasped the feeling or concept of debilitation on an emotional level until it started for me a few weeks ago. It’s awful. I truly would not wish these emotions on anyone.

Doing things that once brought me so much joy have become difficult and leave me feeling defeated. Even just getting the courage to try them again has been hard for me and it’s come to the point where I need to force myself to do them at an attempt to pull myself from this ditch of emotion. I constantly need to be self-aware and doing what I can to help set myself up for success during the day by finding triggers, times of day, activities that help, even specific music and my diet has become top of mind to try and help.

I’ve struggled and have felt embarrassed to talk about it because, truth be told, I have a great life overall. I have my dream job, I make a good living doing what I love, I have an awesome apartment, I have time to go to the gym every morning, I have plenty of supportive friends, I have a significant other that cares about me, my family is supportive and healthy, so why the hell do I feel this way?

To be honest, I have no clue. One day it feels like the source is from one place, the next day it feels like it’s something completely different. I’ve accepted that fact and know that I can just do my best to take the steps forward to help myself live with the anxiety instead of focusing on completely ridding it from my life.

I hope you’ll accept and maybe find comfort in my vulnerability above. While I’m still very much struggling with anxiety and depression, I would like to share some pointers and things that have helped me little by little and lead to having more good than bad days.

Meditation

Meditation has become the first thing I have to do in the morning because that’s when my anxiety is the absolute worst. My anxiety resets in the morning for some reason and gradually gets better as the day progresses (typically) so starting my day with anxiety helps me get myself out of bed (literally, because you need to be sitting to meditate).

Headspace is a really great option for this day and age of apps, and makes it super easy by providing beginner courses to help you learn to meditate. Then, they have a vast amount of specific courses depending on where you need to focus (anxiety, guilt, cravings, etc.) that tailor the guidance for that subject.

I can’t recommend meditation enough as an easy first step for managing your feelings and thoughts.

No Caffeine

Ironically, I have to drink 2–3 Chamomile teas throughout the day, which does the exact opposite of caffeine (meant to help you fall asleep). But it helps me manage anxiety and the potential of panic attacks while giving me something to drink that’s nice and hot and replicates the routine of making coffee in the morning for me.

You don’t have to get rid of it cold turkey like I did, but I recommend cutting back little by little until you have none. I think it’s helped keep my heart rate in check and keeps my mind clearer on the motivations I have to help my anxiety and depression.

Distractions

I’ve found that getting out of my head and focusing on what’s in front of me is a game changer. For me, this is why I mentioned above that I force myself to partake in activities that typically bring me joy even if I have no motivation to do them. Working on my music, playing video games, going to eat places, seeing friends, being with my significant other, walking my dogs, and trying new hobbies have been my go-to’s. Like I said, it’s difficult to get myself to do them, but once I get started it’s very helpful to keep me from dwelling on the negatives in life.

Routines

I personally have a rough timeline in my head for how my days go and when I should be doing what. I do give myself some leeway especially now if there is something I want to do since I want to help myself be happy. Overall though, I have a morning a routine, a routine before work, during work, and even after work that I can rely on to give me a sense of purpose and direction when I feel lost.

Talking About it with Others

I feel like absolute garbage some days, especially lately as I mentioned, and I finally accepted that I needed to open up to my friends, family, and others about it. I was definitely nervous going into it about how others would react and thought it wasn’t normal to feel this way. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. But, I decided to give it a try not only to those in my personal life, but also talking to team members at work to give them full transparency on something that was bleeding into my work life.

To my pleasant surprise, almost every person I brought these feelings and my situation up to was immensely supportive and empathetic towards my feelings. My friends offered support, my family started calling me more often, and my coworkers helped me with next steps I can take while being a support system in the work place. We (at MetaLab) even started a channel on our Slack recently (cleverly called #mentalab by the one and only Noah), I was one of the first to open up about my situation and it’s been so inspiring and humbling to see so many others come forth with their own stories.

Not only were people kind enough to be supportive, but just getting the feelings I was having off of my chest made a world of difference. Talking through feelings of shame, embarrassment, anxiety, and depression and what struggles come with them felt like a huge weight being lifted from my conscience.

Limiting Social Media

Sure, I’ll loose some followers and I worry about how I’ll promote things like my projects and my music, but it’s for the best right now. I wanted to be more present in life when I do anything no matter how small or big. I don’t want to feel the need to check my phone to keep my mind from racing and decided to face those feelings head on or distracting myself in a more productive way.

I still use social media here and there on specific outlets (like Twitter for news mainly) but I use social media about 1/10th the amount that I was using it before. It’s been much better for me and my sanity towards my outlook on life I think.

Therapy

Dennis Cortés
Designer that also codes, illustrates, writes weekly articles, and produces music. Hispanic. Pokémon Master.
www.cortes.us

Cortes Studio

Thoughts, experience, and findings from our team to you.

Dennis Cortés

Written by

Designer that codes, teaches, and makes music • Lead Product Designer @ Mothership • Making http://patreon.com/shyboytm • Prev. @metalab | 🇵🇷

Cortes Studio

Thoughts, experience, and findings from our team to you.

Dennis Cortés

Written by

Designer that codes, teaches, and makes music • Lead Product Designer @ Mothership • Making http://patreon.com/shyboytm • Prev. @metalab | 🇵🇷

Cortes Studio

Thoughts, experience, and findings from our team to you.

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