Does your chest feel like it has it’s own life sometimes; as if your anxiety just lived in a cave located directly in your chest cavity? There are days where I think I can actually hear my chest screaming for help. I open my mouth but the words won’t come out (yes also lyrics from an Eminem song). My mind doesn’t even know why my chest is asking for help in the first place it just is. My anxiety is like an ugly troll living under a bridge and it is trying to grab the ankles of passerby’s to drag them down too to the swampy abyss. The passerby’s being my control, happiness, and concentration not actual people.

You would think the troll would want to take a break, take a nap or even just a small vacation… nope. Instead he sits there, snarling, growling and feeding off of any chance I have (or had) for feeling normal and in control of my own feelings. Of course there are times where he is dormant but just knowing he is still there means it is only a matter of time before I am back to doom and gloom, at least that is how it seems sometimes.

Don’t get me wrong, I feel happiness, excitement, and most positive emotions they just tend to come with consequences. The consequences being the troll uses those good thoughts as reasons to be angry and anxious. It took me years and years to even admit the troll existed. Once I realized he was here to stay I knew I had to find ways to get around him.

I thought at first, because of childhood experiences that medications were for the weak, Xanax was for people who just wanted a reason to sleep. The adults ‘cure all’ was “just take a Xanax,” headache, Xanax. Sad, Xanax. Happy, Xanax. Break-up, Xanax. It seasoned me for the years to come to feel like I needed to fight everything on my own, with no help or medications. Truth of the matter is, genetics is genetics people. All the cliche’s have some truth, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” “ya plant potatoes, ya get potatoes.” And if my family has potatoes with anxiety, chances are I too am a potato with anxiety.

I’m sure it has been here for my whole life, most of it has come in stages. I had depression first and it didn’t really rear its ugly head until I was a freshmen in college when my parents announced they were getting a divorce. Things had been shitty for a while, and they hadn’t really gotten along for quit some time so it ultimately made sense. Doesn’t mean it was easy to cope with. People say “it’s so much easier when your parents get divorced when you’re older,” some say “it’s so much easier when your parents get divorced when you’re younger.”’ Truth is it sucks no matter how old you are. 

When your sense of normalcy drastically changes those of us with anxiety may be dealing with the changes much differently than people who don’t. 
I absolutely cringe when I hear someone say that depression isn’t real, that people who say they are depressed are just lazy and weak. They are looking for excuses to hide from reality. Guess what, I used to be one of those people. It wasn’t until I lost a really good childhood friend to suicide that it clicked that in fact this shit is real. Depression sucks. It is as real as any other disease or illness, it may not show up on a CT Scan or on a MRI or in blood work like cancer, pneumonia, or a broken bone. Depression is hidden in the depths of our soul and sometimes you don’t realize it until it has consumed your way of life. 

I am on the mend, not nearly as low as I once was. It is still a ladder of triumph but I am confident now that I can recognize the signs of my depression and anxiety. Recognizing the signs and doing something about them sometimes don’t always come hand in hand. I got medicated. It wasn’t overnight that the medication started to make a difference either, it was a lot of trial and error before my therapist and I found the right recipe for success. I am not ashamed I am medicated anymore, admitting I need help is truly the best thing I can do. If medications help my troll turn the frown upside down and smell the flowers then so be it.  However, the medications alone don’t make it all 100%. It is true what they say about exercise and eating healthy. I find I am at my happiest and most content when I schedule exercise in regularly and plan healthy meals for a majority of the week. Me time goes a long way.

I wish for answers for anyone who is struggling to deal with depression and anxiety. It really is important to realize you are NOT alone. If someone doesn’t understand where you are coming from, that is on them not you. Do not let your troll run your life find ways to make them happy and allow you to live the life you are meant to live. There are answers out there sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper than expected. So grab a shovel and dig a little deeper, because your true happiness is out there. I promise. 

- Ruthie, A fellow anxious friend

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