Mark’s Tips For Young Adults Battling Anxiety & Depression
Anxiety and Depression is something that I have been dealing with the majority of my life — and I fear that I will be dealing with it for the rest of my life.
Unlike many people with anxiety and depression, mine doesn't come in waves. It's constant — and literally a chemically-derived imbalance in my brain. Interestingly enough, the issue is on the same side of my brain that houses normal bodily functions like speaking, walking, or holding a fork, according to my doctor.
I am going to be honest, I was not going to post this. I absolutely hate attention that I believe to be invasive to me personally. It's only because of a friend that I shared a draft with that pushed me to upload this.
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I thought it would be fitting that I would share my story and a few things that helped me overcome some of the symptoms.
First off, it should go without saying that I am not a medical doctor and your first stop in the journey of curing your anxiety and depression should be in a doctors office.
I also want to point out that everything that I am writing to you today is coming from a 22-year-old's perspective, hence the title of the article. Don't get me wrong, I think that anyone can use my tips, but I am also dealing with different stresses and pressures than someone in their 40s, 50s or even 30s.
My biggest issue, by far, is social anxiety — although, I think it is getting so much better. You pick up a few things when you are hanging in an office with a bunch of people. I would have conversations with people, and usually they would go just fine, but afterward, I would dissect every sentence, line, and stutter of the conversation. This would lead to endless playbacks of the conversations in my brain right after it happened, and in some cases up to weeks after. This would usually end with coming to the conclusion that I am awkward.
One of my professors in undergrad gave me some great advice: everyone is awkward. It really made me think because… it's true. Everyone, at some point, is awkward. My professor went on to say that nine times out of ten, the person you are having the conversation with probably didn't even notice my stutter or awkwardness. Another thing that helped me was directly after a conversation, I would immediately shift my focus onto something else with the hopes that I would completely forget the structure of the conversation. That strategy only worked sometimes, though.
One of the hardest things that I am dealing with right now is being pessimistic — and funny enough, I am almost certain that everyone you speak with that knows me will tell you that I am an optimist. The problem is, up until this post, my pessimism is internal. According to Dr. Google, being a pessimist is linked to depression. I have the constant thinking that an issue, often small, is going to be detrimental to myself, my career, and my life. Also, when something good happens to me, I always think of the downfalls or the negatives of the situation. I also find myself saying "that's too great to happen to me". It's a constant battle between my soul and brain. My soul says be happy, but my brain says be sad.
A technique that I have employed is deep breathing. I know. You probably have heard this time and time again, but have you tried it? No, I mean have you ever taken a good two to five minutes and just focus on your breathing? If it doesn't directly help what I am feeling at the moment, it definitely distracts me.
Also, shut off your devices and stay off of social media. Remember, people only post the good things about their life on social media and try and amp it up for everyone to see. I hate to bring it up, but it is true.
Lastly, and this one is hard folks. Body Dysmorphia. Yes, guys go through this too. Side note, please read that last sentence: guys go through this too. Those who assume that Body Dysmorphia can only occur in women is sexist on so many levels.
For those who don't know, body dysmorphia is when you see your body as flawed. I am literally at the gym five times a week, trying my best to build a physique that I would be proud of. There was a point in my life where I wasn't eating a lot, and there was a point where I was eating too much. If I catch myself in the mirror the wrong way, or my Snapchat opens up on the front-facing camera automatically, it will literally ruin my day. I wore coverup for a huge part of my life because I was so afraid of what people thought about my appearance.
Folks, I am still working on this one. Although, one of the biggest helps… believe it or not, has been my mom. She has to constantly remind me of my self-worth. I guess the takeaway from this should be to talk to someone. Also, if you are a guy — don't be afraid to experiment with things like coverup. It's simple and if you do it right, nobody will notice you have it on. But you should also understand that using things like coverup is just a temporary fix to something much larger.
I hope some of my tips helped. Like I said in the beginning, the only reason why I am posting this is because a friend pushed me to do so. Emily, thanks for being awesome.
As always, please seek help if you need it.
National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255
End the stigma surrounding mental health.
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