Hey there, friend. So sorry to hear that you’re struggling. And yes, I’ve lived with depression and anxiety most of my life. But I also know that we are all individuals on our own journeys and dealing with our own unique issues. So while I will gladly share some of my thoughts since you asked for them, I feel it is importantly to make sure that you know how to get support beyond what a layman who talks to his dog can offer. :-)
Here are some places to turn that tumblr suggests to folks feeling what you seem to be feeling.
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, the Lifeline is here to help: call 1–800–273–8255
If you are experiencing any other type of crisis, consider chatting confidentially with a volunteer trained in crisis intervention at www.imalive.org, or anonymously with a trained active listener from 7 Cups of Tea.
And, if you could use some inspiration and comfort in your dashboard, you should consider following the Lifeline on Tumblr.
You had the courage and self-awareness to reach out to me, so I hope you will consider turning to the resources above, people in your life, or mental health professionals if things start getting too dark. It took me far too long to realize that the brain that was causing my anxiety and depression was probably not the brain that was going to pull me out of it on my own. But my brain with a little support from another one was pretty damned good at getting me through the low points. Being willing to let others help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
There were points where I needed mental health professionals in my life. There were times that medication was an appropriate part of my management strategy. And there were times I managed it all on my own. But if you are unsure of whether or not professional help is appropriate, I highly encourage you to give it a shot. A few times I went to counselors and came out saying, “Well, that’s definitely not what I needed!” and that’s a good moment! Learning that is a positive! Other times they really helped a lot though. So please consider that.
And if the first one sucks, find another. Not all psychologists/counselors/psychiatrists are created equal and even a good one isn’t necessarily a right fit for you just because they are good.
I’m a strong advocate of the book, “Feeling Good” by David Burns. It’s why it’s on regular rotation on the Amazon widget on my home page. Reading it helped a little, especially because it felt good to discover that lots of people struggle with the thoughts that I did. Depression and anxiety are real lying assholes! They try to convince you that you’re the only one who thinks things like you do.
But more than reading, doing the exercises and committing to the work really payed off. Whenever I feel myself slipping back, I re-anchor to that book.
Also for me, exercising has been critical. It’s harder (but not impossible) for me to continually say horrible things to myself when I’m active. Exercising in the morning sun is especially good for me. Exercising with someone else is the best.
I’ve come to believe anxiety is my root issue, with my depression usually springing from that. If I can keep my anxiety under control, depression is usually manageable. And for me, mindfulness mediation has helped. Calm.com is a great resource for a novice meditator. But that may not be your deal. So again, I suggest talking to someone who can help you strategize.
But most importantly, do what you can to just get through tonight. When I was at my lowest, getting to morning was critical. I can’t promise you that EVERYTHING will perfect in the morning, but I can promise you that things are almost always a little bit better and a little bit clearer. And if they’re a little bit better in the morning, they might be even better than that the next day.
But you’ll have good days and bad ones. Be kind to yourself on those bad ones and enjoy the good ones. I think back to those bad nights, the nights I thought about ending it all, and I am so grateful that I didn’t. My life isn’t perfect, but I have had some truly joyful moments in my life. And I know I have impacted the lives of my friends, coworkers, and family members. Sometimes in big ways, sometimes small ones. But if I’d ended it all five years ago, or ten years ago, or twenty years ago, there are a lot of good things I never would have gotten to do. And I am glad that I got to do those good things. And I am glad that I’ll get to do a few more in the years to come.
I want you to do that too. You have already made a difference. By writing to me, you made me post this. And I bet someone else who is in a dark place tonight will see this and think, “Hey. I’m not the only one.” You may have helped them get through tonight. Thanks for that. And thank you for just being you.
You have value just because you are.
Stay in touch. And I’d like to hear from you in the morning.
(Ducky says, “Hi!” too!)