Many people come to me and say I don't know why I feel like I do or how it started. I was pretty much in the dark myself as to why I seem to get worse and not better over the years and why these feelings had come on in the first place. Well, in most cases it is because of a period of worry and stress; there are other causes but in most cases this is the reason why. I receive emails from people bewildered as to why they suddenly felt like this, I then ask "Have you been under a period of stress recently?" They reply with, "Well my mother has been ill recently, my partner left me 6 months ago, my daughter has just left home and I lost my job a couple of months ago..." Not until I ask them do they realize the stress they have been under for the last few months. All this stress takes its toll on the body.
What I had was a nervous breakdown. This basically occurs because your body can only take so much. When you are going through a prolonged period of stress and worry, your body cannot cope so it sort of shuts down. It has reached breaking point and has said, enough is enough. This may lead to feelings of anxiousness, panic and detachment. It does not matter what the symptoms are, it is your body saying, "I can take no more." This is where the word breakdown comes in, because that is really all it is.
Now all your body is asking for is a rest and time to rejuvenate itself. Do we give it that time? No! Through no fault of our own, we then worry about these symptoms, worry we are going mad and wonder why we feel so tired and emotionless. This puts more worry and strain on our already tired body and we may begin to feel worse. We tell ourselves we must get a grip of this thing, so we fight it and worry even more. Well I think you can now see why these symptoms persist. This is exactly what I did for all those years while I suffered. In fact I was worrying because I had been ill so long and my days were filled with fighting and worry.
One day I just accepted that, OK, this is me, now. I actually understand why I feel like this. I need to give my mind and body a rest. I need to stop trying to make myself feel better and stop worrying about how I feel. So I started to just accept it, not only that, but I also accepted it may take a long time for my body to repair itself. This is exactly what your body needs - a break . It did take time for me to feel better and sort of came bit by bit. Sometimes I experienced the worst day I'd had for a long time, but I never let it bother me. I just accepted the good days and the bad ones. What I did notice over time was that my mind became a little clearer. The odd emotion would return and my anxiety eased a little. This is when I finally realized I was doing things the right way and it all made sense to me. The feeling of strangeness was the hardest to accept, but I became a master at not letting it bother me. So, remember, it does not matter how long it takes to feel better, just start to give your body the well deserved break it so needs and it will take care of itself.
The added depression
Through suffering of anxiety most people also develop depression, this can then lead to feelings of self-pity and make the person feel worthless. The feelings of depression can occur because anxiety has a tendency to crush our spirit and make us feel emotionally spent; also we begin to see no way out from the way we feel and have nothing to look forward to. I also went through depression with my anxiety and got caught in the cycle of "being depressed because I was depressed." I realized that if I was to recover from anxiety then I was to have no self pity. If I felt down then I felt down, there was nothing I could do about this. What I would try to do is not be filled with self-pity and make myself worse.
The best thing you can do with feelings of depression through anxiety is to tell yourself the way you feel is temporary and start to invite new things into your day. Don't let how you feel dominate your day. I started to take walks and go for a swim to shake the cobwebs off how I was feeling. This helped me greatly and it gave me another focus to my day instead of focusing on myself. I believe that nature and a natural diet can be great mood lifters and also ease the feelings of anxiety. Going out for a run or a walk, taking some daily exercise, is far better than sitting at home brooding on how you feel. Exercise in itself releases endorphins which are great for lifting your mood; also exercise burns off all those stress chemicals than can build up through the day.
Your thought pattern is also very important when overcoming anxiety and depression. Too many people think negatively about how they are feeling; this is understandable but is counter productive and becomes a habit... the habit to always think negatively, which in turn makes us feel worse and crushes our spirit even more. Watch out for all the negative thinking and try and change your thought pattern. Instead of saying, "I just want to curl up and hide," say "I don't feel great at the moment but I am going to make the changes and come through this." Instead of saying, "I have nothing to look forward to and I hate my life," say "Life is what I make it from now on, the only person that can make changes is me, this is just a part of my life that I will come through." There are many different things you can say to yourself, but the main thing is to try and have as little self-pity as possible, to see the good in the day instead of all the bad, to come through this time a better, stronger person.
I came through my depression and it was because I made the changes above. These changes also helped me after my recovery. I am a far more confident person than I was before my own suffering and I tend to always see the good in my life. This all came about because I understand the importance of being positive. This now has become my new habit and my life is so much richer for it. I am also very proud that I stayed positive and came through this very tough part of my life; this has given me a new inner strength, a strength that I can overcome anything. I now no longer worry about anything I cannot change. If I learnt one thing it is that worrying is the most useless emotion we have and serves us no purpose whatsoever.