Anxiety. Depression. Two words I never thought would be factors in my life so heavily as they are right now.
I struggle with the fact that even though I have an amazing family, beautiful friends, a career path that I’m in love with, two incredible jobs, and graduation coming up in just a few short months, I’m living in a state of highs and lows.
But these types of things don’t discriminate.
I had no idea, but I have been dealing with these two illnesses for years now, and they have just gotten progressively worse.
I wonder why I feel so terrible some days and over the moon others. I can’t give you a reason why I feel this way, I don’t have one - and that’s one of the most frustrating parts. I got angry quite often and still do sometimes, thinking, “People in this world have it so much worse than you, you shouldn’t be wallowing, you should be helping them.”
Little did I know, this mind set would only cause my anxiety and depression to escalate.
Some of you may know, especially those who I’m closest to, that the past few years have taken its toll on my family, health wise. I’m extremely blessed to still have my mom with me after her battle with breast cancer. Shortly after her diagnosis, both of my grandfathers passed away within months of each other - both of whom I was very close with. All of a sudden, at the age of 17, my world seemed to be falling apart, but I had to be there for my family and especially my mom. Needless to say, I had to grow up very fast, and therefore, I developed coping mechanisms that were detrimental to my mental health. But I was 17, a senior getting ready to go to college, I didn’t pay much attention to my mind and what I was doing to it.
I moved out at 17, and I started college. I thought getting away would fix things, especially since my mom was in remission at that point. Unfortunately, even though my first year was incredible and lived up to my expectations, I carried those demons with me.
My sophomore year of college was completely different. I developed severe anxiety, and that caused my eating problem to develop as well. I was eating one meal a day, and then some days it turned into only a few bites a day. I completely lost my appetite a few times. I didn’t know why, and of course, I didn’t really talk about it much. Because in my mind, the more you talk about something, the more real it becomes. Of course, as a result, I lost quite a bit of weight, and at the end of my spring semester I thought summer break would help. School was really stressful and summer was where I could recoup and get my life back on track. But I’m sure those reading can already guess, that wasn’t the case. My eating problem was still present, and it slowly manifested itself into my diet. Unfortunately, I saw it as an effective way to lose weight, and to keep that weight off. I knew this wasn’t healthy, but I couldn’t force myself to eat more than one meal a day.
My junior year started, and I was told that junior year would be my toughest year of college. And they were right. My classes were difficult and my anxiety only continued to grow because I ignored it. I had started eating a little bit more, but it still wasn’t to where it should be for a 20 year old who also picked up the hobby of CrossFit that same semester. My anxiety wasn’t my focus, but it was still ever present in my everyday life, and eventually I hit rock bottom in the spring of my junior year. My classes were challenging, I had picked up an internship, and also continued to work a steady 6hrs a week at my job on campus. Not to mention trying to have a social life, and continue to workout at my CrossFit gym. My anxiety got to a point where it was crippling, and I slowly developed mild depression. I would have meltdowns, more often than I had before, and I couldn’t seem to focus on anything. Towards the end of my semester, my roommates, who are my closest friends in the world, were hanging out in my room, like a normal Friday night in our apartment. I had mentioned that my anxiety was so bad that someone suggested I go to the doctor, but I didn’t think I had that big of a problem. They both looked at me and told me that my anxiety ruled my life in more ways than I had even thought. They told me that therapy could be a great option for me. Of course, I was hesitant. But I realized how hard it must of been for my roommates to sit back for months, and watch me destroy myself, and they seized their moment to lend a hand. And I can’t begin to thank them enough for that. I soon started to go to therapy, and I have continued it for a little over a month since the end of the semester.
Today, as I’m writing this, I still struggle with anxiety and depression, and tendencies that come along with them. I more recently have struggled with suicidal thoughts when my anxiety attacks or depression gets out of control. I still struggle with self esteem issues, eating more than one meal a day, and seeking approval from others. I always say that I have my good days and my bad days. This is still an everyday struggle for me, and for so many others.
Luckily, I have amazing people surrounding me and helping me through it, and they’ve led me to lean more on Jesus. My co-workers make going to work something I look forward to everyday. My bible study group has been one of the greatest blessings to my life. My therapist is a great source of warmth and understanding. My roommates always make me laugh, and stay on top of me about my eating habits. My friends continue to be great areas of support for me. My sister has helped me understand more about what Jesus wants for us in this life. And my parents have constantly shown me love, and remind me of how much I mean to them.
I don’t want my depression and my anxiety to rule my life, and battling them has been one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do.
One of the hardest lessons I’ve had to learn, is one I heard in an amazing sermon on Nehemiah. The lesson was to reject the “I’m okay” narrative. This constantly runs through my mind, especially on my bad days. Not only does it remind us that we’re allowed to have bad days, but that we’re supposed to have bad days so that we can see Jesus in our darkest moments as the friend and Father that He is.
I don’t know why this is a battle God chose for me to face. But I find comfort in knowing that He hasn’t left me and He never will. And even though it’s hard to put all of my trust in Him, I know He won’t let me down.
If you’re struggling with anxiety or depression, please talk to someone. It’s something that I refused to do until I had to, don’t let yourself hit rock bottom. Open yourself up to those who love you, and tell them what’s going on. Also, be there for other people, you never know who needs to talk. Check on each other. Look for signs, and be active in one another’s lives as much as you can. One of the greatest things you can give to someone is your time, so always be ready and willing to listen. And never forget to not only give The Lord your problems, but to thank Him for everything you have in your life.
Something that we always used to say when my mom was doing her chemo treatments was the saying, “God is good all the time, and all the time God is good.” Even on the days where I can’t seem to find any positives, I still know that God is extremely good to us.
“With every single day
may you be reminded
through all things unknown
He will still be good,
He will still be with you
just like He said He would.”
- Morgan Harper Nichols