Anxiety.

What with all the ups and downs lately, I’ve had to deal a lot with depression.

I mean, first I was going out of freelancing…now I’m not.

You’d think that that was a good thing–and it is–but I think the change in hope vs. despair is what triggers depression for me, and it was a big change.

I had to deal with it on a daily basis to the point that when I get up in the morning now, I assess whether I’m depressed and if so, deal with it right away.  Because otherwise I’m not going to get anything done.

As I dealt with depression on a regular basis, it became less intrinsic to me.  I wasn’t depressed:  I had depression.  It felt like having a cold or a case of food poisoning, rather than a part of my pointless, useless personality.

Now when I catch myself thinking things like “you suck as a writer” or “why bother–you’ll just @#$% it up” I don’t think of them as my thoughts.  They’re symptoms.  Like having a sore throat.

And instead I think, “Gosh, I better head off that depression; I don’t want to be dragging for a couple of days.”

That’s good, too.

But the more I deal with depression, the more I’m starting to see that it’s just an end state in a cycle:  the thing that almost always comes right before it is anxiety.

It’s weird thinking about anxiety as a sickness.  I feel like being a worry-wort is a fundamental part of my personality most of the time.  I know it isn’t; I have my confident, brilliant, wonderful moments.

But those wonderful moments almost always trigger anxiety.

For some reason a bunch of thoughts collided yesterday, and this morning I woke up going, “Anxiety comes from externalizing self-approval.”

Translation:  I am anxious because I’m trying to make Someone Else happy.

It’s not anyone in particular; it changes.  The important thing is that when I decide what to do, I don’t think, “What would make me happy?”  Most of the time.  Mostly I go, “I can’t do that.”

That ranges from “I can’t eat out” to “I can’t work on my project right now” to “I can’t talk to so-and-so.”

I have a censor, a bully inside me.  And when I have a “can’t” about one thing, it starts throwing its weight around so that everything I do turns into a “can’t.”

It’s a nuclear bomb of fear, a chain reaction that ends in…depression.

Depression, strangely, works as a safety valve for me, to turn off the cascade.  By becoming numb, by making every action an uphill climb, depression stops my out-of-control spiral.

In order to stop the depression from starting (or at least cut back on it), I need to stop the chain-reaction of anxiety.

There is no Someone Else out there who needs me to fail, who will be angry if I try.

There is no Someone Else out there that I need to give all my power to.

There is no Someone Else who gets to punish me; I certainly don’t need to punish myself in the hope that it’ll be less than what the Someone Else does to me.

I am not being watched with cruel eyes, judged at every second.

I am not betraying Someone Else by being myself.

…and anyone who says different is doing so in order to accomplish some purpose in which it’s better that I’m smaller, shyer, more anxious, more depressed, quieter, more damaged, more hurt.

Sadly, a lot of people say different.  They don’t mean to.  I didn’t mean to:  but now I have to watch what comes out of my mouth, what my body language says.

You’re not good enough.  I judge you.  If only you wore better clothes.  You wear too much perfume.  Why don’t you stand up straight?  This place is a mess.  You’re just being a jerk.  If you think that, you must be crazy.  What have you done to your hair?  Swearing is for people with weak vocabularies.  People suck.  Get out of my @#$%^&’ way.  [Insert sarcastic response here.] If you disagree with me, then it’s funny to insult you.  My pain is more important than yours.  Men.  Women.  Too fat.  Rude.  You are not enough.

It’s like we made this group decision:  it’s better to be anxious and worry about making Someone Else happy than it is to be responsible for our own happiness.

 

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6 Comments

  1. Depression and anxiety are both diseases. They are also perfectly normal emotional states. If your paycheck is delayed unexpectedly and you have bills to pay, that is perfectly normal anxiety. If something sad happens, depression is normal.

    But there are two situations under which they become a disease (and some may argue these 2 are the same thing)

    The first is when the emotions spiral completely out of control, snowballing into an overwhelming mess that the human body and mind can’t handle. This isn’t something a person can simply take a pill for (although medications are available, with debatable results) It is not something a person can “try harder” at and “will themselves into the positive.” There are mental exercises that, like medication, may help or may not. Every human is different.

    The second situation is when there is no catalyst and the depression and/or anxiety rears its ugly head anyways. I know that my body chemistry will produce an anxiety reaction upon waking every single friggin’ morning of my life. This is as certain as the sensation of needing to void my bladder after sleeping for eight hours. It pours through me like someone opened a tap and said “release THIS sensation into her bloodstream NOW.” Some mornings the anxiety is mild. Some mornings it is an all-out-panic attack (I won’t go into the details about what that feels like.) Either way, I have to build into my morning routine some time to allow this to pass. I hate meds. But I know that the extreme anxiety that comes to me in the morning will pass (mostly) with just a little bit of peaceful, meditative, sitting-down-and-breathing-time. Whatever is left over is the “real” anxiety of some actual issue I have to face that day.

    There now, I’ve rambled all over your post.
    I think I’ll go write some erotic romance set in a positive future SciFi world where mental health care is integrated into humanity’s general sense of well being.

    That will ease my anxiety about my anxiety.

    ~hugs~

  2. De

    Yes, hugs 🙂

  3. Um, are we the same person?!

    My depression originally came from external bullies… and then I started bullying myself. This leads to anxiety because I’m worried about letting that Someone Else down, and then the depression kicks in. You know what the worst part is? I’m not used to dealing with this anxiety, because it’s always been the depression engulfing me. Now it’s flipped and I get the insane anxiety first.

  4. De

    Heh. No, because I couldn’t write what you write. I’d curl up in a little ball and cry instead.

    I’ve always been an anxious type, lots of anxious behaviors like nail-biting. Right now it’s LOTS worse because I’m thinking about it so much.

    • Ugh, same here. I can’t stop the thinking! I’ve replaced nail-biting with biting the insides of my cheeks.

      I hope you’re feeling better. I’m thinking about seeing a—gasp—therapist. ♥

      • RedQueen

        I’m fine? Fineish? Caught up in finishing novel edits and holiday stuff. Fine? I think I’at m fine? That word.

        I’ve done the cheek thing. It made me ill.

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