Childhood Origins: Trauma and the Birth of Anxiety
My journey with depression and anxiety can be traced back to my early childhood. I was 10 years old and had just experienced a traumatic event that left a deep and lasting scar on my soul. This incident marked the beginning of my struggles with mental health. The trauma I experienced resulted in a profound sense of insecurity and vulnerability, which manifested as severe separation anxiety. This anxiety was compounded by the depression that accompanied it, making me feel as if I were carrying a heavy burden that I couldn’t escape. As I grew older, the weight of these memories further exacerbated my symptoms making it increasingly difficult for me to navigate life.
Adolescence: Feeling Misunderstood and Isolated
During my teenage years, the feelings of isolation and misunderstanding that had plagued me throughout my childhood only intensified. As I tried to navigate the challenges and pressures of adolescence, my depression and anxiety continued to serve as an ever-present shadow, making it difficult for me to engage fully in life.
The most evident outcome of my depression could be seen in my inability to fit in with others. This inability to connect with my peers has left me feeling even more isolated and misunderstood. Additionally, my depression clouded the perception I have of myself. This leads me to believe that I am fundamentally flawed and unworthy.
My academic performance also suffered as a result of my mental health struggles. I was never an “A” student however struggling to compete with my peers left me feeling inadequate. The constant state of sadness throughout my middle-teens, coupled with the anxiety, made it difficult for me to concentrate and retain information. This led to poor grades and a further decline in my self-esteem.
Adulthood: The Intensification of Mental Health Struggles
As I transitioned into adulthood, I had hoped that my depression and anxiety would naturally subside or become more manageable. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Instead, the pressures and responsibilities that come with adult life only served to exacerbate my feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worry.
Being alone is my greatest fear. As a result, my severe separation anxiety makes me feel clingy. I live in a constant state of fear that my wife will leave me.
Late 40s: Hitting Rock Bottom
In my late 40s, the struggle with poor mental health reached a critical point. The years of accumulated pain, sadness, and worry had taken a significant toll on my mental stability, and I found myself in the darkest period of my life.
My depression and anxiety had become so intense that I struggled to function in my daily life. The simplest of tasks felt overwhelmingly difficult, and I often found myself paralyzed by indecision and self-doubt. My ability to concentrate at work also deteriorated significantly.
Additionally, during this time, my self-esteem hit an all-time low. I began to have thoughts of death and suicide. Despite the depths of my despair, a small part of me clung to the hope that things could change, that there might be a way out of the darkness that had consumed me. It was this glimmer of hope that ultimately pushed me to seek help and make a change in my life.
Seeking Help and Turning a Corner
At the age of 47, I reached my breaking point. One afternoon, while sitting alone in my home office, I struggled to breathe through an intense panic attack. In that moment, I knew something had to change; I couldn’t continue living in such a constant state of pain and fear.
Taking a leap of faith, I reached out for help. I confided in my wife, who had been aware of my struggles all along. She was incredibly supportive and encouraged me to seek professional assistance. I reached out to my doctor who prescribed a daily dose of 150mg of sertraline, which has helped some to stabilize my mood. Unfortunately, my severe separation anxiety has persisted.
Healing and Self-Acceptance: An Ongoing Journey
Over time, the combination of medication, my new found love for making digital art, and writing in this weekly blog, I am starting to see a difference. I have started to see the light at the end of the tunnel and at least for now it does not appear to be a train. My journey with depression and anxiety has not been an easy one, and it’s far from over. There have been many setbacks and challenges along the way, but I’ve learned the importance of persistence and self-compassion.
I now recognize that my mental health is an ongoing journey.
A Message of Hope and Support
I hope that by sharing my story, I can provide a sense of comfort and support to others who may be facing similar challenges. I want to promote the importance of seeking help, practicing self-compassion, and cultivating a strong support network.
Together, we can break down the barriers of misunderstanding and stigma that surround mental health, supporting one another on our journeys towards healing and self-acceptance. By fostering open dialogue and raising awareness, we can create a more compassionate and understanding world for those living with depression and anxiety.
The Lord is near the brokenhearted; He saves those crushed in spirit.
- Psalm 34:18 (HCSB)
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.
Scripture quotations marked HCSB are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Used by Permission HCSB ©1999,2000,2002,2003,2009 Holman Bible Publishers. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.