Disclaimer: I’d like to make it very clear that I’m not a doctor and I’m in no position to give medical advice. If you are feeling anxiety, depression, or suicidal thoughts – Please reach out to a medical professional. There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, swallowing your pride and asking for help builds character. The advice I will give you are only things I learned from personal experience.
Also, I will profit from certain things I’ve linked in this article. It wasn’t about the money – I do believe these things will help you like they have helped me.
Anxiety is worse than any physical pain that I’ve ever felt. No broken bone, no torn ligament, and no herniated disc has ever hurt worse than my own brain rooting against me. You’ve probably felt anxiety to some degree, or perhaps you’re struggling with it at this very moment. You avoid anything and everything that involves socializing. You avoid trying new things because you think the worst before you ever get a chance to experience them. You may lay in bed for days on end. That’s when the depression kicks in. All you want to do is sleep, because you don’t feel pain when you’re asleep. Maybe you’ve never experienced this but I know many people have. Even when I slept days away, I could not escape my dreams and nightmares; The nightmares of me leaving my potential unfulfilled and not having any sort of impact on the world. I only had one option left and soon you will realize the same thing, that inevitably you will have to stand up and face your demons. If not today, than when?
One thing you need to know is that you’re not crazy. Millions of people are suffering in silence, scared of the stereotypes that come with mental health issues. Personally I believe that anxiety and depression, although mental health issues, have stemmed from our habits and our environment. It is true, these are chemical imbalances in your brain. But were you really born this way, or did this develop over a period of time? When you were six, seven, eight years old, were you depressed? Probably not. You were running around with bliss outside, in fear of nothing. Now we all had different childhoods, so I won’t speculate on what you did or didn’t go through, and what you did or didn’t feel. I am only speaking from personal experience and I know that won’t relate to everybody. The solutions for your problems will vary, but the message I am trying to get across to you will remain the same.
At 26 years old, I’ve come to realize we are growing up in a crazy world. I won’t say our struggles are easier or harder than our parents’, because I don’t like to compare and quite frankly I didn’t live in that time era. I believe the most unhealthy thing for you, me, and the rest of us, is social media. I pray this message gets across to an 18 year old who was in my shoes, because nobody sat me down to talk about these problems.
More than likely, you wake up and check your social media. I do it too. At this moment in time I do it to promote a positive message, but it wasn’t always like that. It’s how I used to measure my self worth, which is a terrible thing to do. I consistently needed other peoples’ approval to feel good about myself, to feel good about where I’m going, and to feel as if I am worthy of love. Sooner or later, I found myself doing things and saying things that were only intended to seek validation from a bunch of other people that were lost, just like me. At times I portrayed an image of myself that was greater than what it really was. For example, I graduated as a dental assistant. The reason I went to school for this was simple. I dropped out of highschool and reality hit really hard when I had to wash dishes to get by. When I hit 18 and my dental insurance disappeared, I started to have more problems with my teeth – and financially, I couldn’t fix them as quick as they were falling apart. On top of that, I always wanted to be a dentist, but it wasn’t logical at the time to think I could endure 8 years of school. So I attended a one year program for dental assisting, and I was estatic when I graduated with a 3.93 GPA and landed a job with my dentist that has known me my whole life. I no longer had to worry about my teeth – I came up with one solution to fix many problems. I made decent money, I got free dental care, and experience behind me if I did pursue my doctorate in dentistry. You’re probably wondering how this ties into anxiety and social media. Keep reading and it will make sense.
It wasn’t long before I no longer took pride in my job. The truth is, I was never going to go to school for 8 years, I was not going to be a doctor, and I began to sell myself short. I fell into society’s expectation of what a “man” is, and came to the conclusion that what I was doing wasn’t very masculine according to society’s standards. So I started to portray and image of me, mostly on social media, that wasn’t necessarily true. Everytime somebody saw me in my scrubs, it looked like I was doing really well in life. I looked like a doctor, and when people saw me, they thought I was a doctor. Soon I started feeling intense anxiety about going to work everyday, because I felt like I should be doing more. I felt like I wasn’t good enough. No woman would want to be with a “dental assistant” I thought. They want the Navy Seal, the bodybuilder, I don’t know. The point is that I forgot the real reason why I did these things, and I did them for me. Not for you. It took me a long time to stop searching for your approval, and I believe this was the heart and soul of my anxiety. Maybe not for you, but you should take a deep look within. Seeking approval from strangers is dangerous. P.S: Helping the doctor yank teeth out of someones jawbone, stop excessive bleeding from patients’ on blood thinners, and assisting with suturing up gums got quite “manly” at times. Sorry doctor, if you’re reading this, I meant “gently extract.”
Now I know that was a very long but summarized incite into my life, and I may have lost you by now. I hope not, and if you’re still reading I’m going to share with you some things that have helped me through my own anxiety and depression. The first thing you should do is stop measuring your succcess via likes on your social media. Most of the people on social media, like I was, are portraying a fake image of their life. They want other people to like them, so they go out of their way to portray what is “attractive.” The truth is, you shouldn’t need anybody in this world to verify your self worth. You’re worthy just the way you are, and you need to know that. Embrace your flaws, don’t avoid them. Leave social media alone for a while.
Subscribe to positive things on your phone. For me, it was goodnewsnetwork.org. Why? Because it’s mentally overwhelming to constantly be bombared by negativity. Everyday we pick up our phones and turn on our TV, and there are usually no positive things that are being promoted. Now I am not ignorant to the bad things that happen in the world, but the world isn’t full of bad people and bad things. Many great things happen everyday. Subscribe to that website and you will see. You can also download the app via IOS or Android. Now everyday I wake up, I see a positive story instead of a negative one. I can’t say this enough, if you’re constantly seeing negativity, that negativity will manifest itself in your life.
Distance your brain from your emotions. There’s an old saying, “Believe nothing that you hear, and half of what you see.” Everyday you see and hear things that people purposly put there to get a rise out of you. They made you mad, angry, sad, or hopefully, happy. But that doesn’t mean that they are true. What do I mean by this? Here’s an example.
“In my opinion, prisoners of war are cowards. How could you be so stupid to get caught? Not only is it a disgrace to our military, but it’s a disgrace to every veteran that served before them. The enemy can keep our prisoners of war, they aren’t even worthy of coming home. They are cowards and deserve whatever terrible fate that awaits them.”
That would piss you off, wouldn’t it? I hope I still haven’t lost you. I don’t believe in any of those things, but if I posted them to my social media and you read it, it would probably make you very angry. You’d dwell on it, you’d invest your time and energy into telling me what you thought of me, and you also fell into a troll’s trap of propaganda. Somebody has gotten a rise out of you and changed your emotional state, your state of mind, and maybe even ruined your day – When in all reality, their original post probably wasn’t even their true feelings. Distance your mind from your emotions.
Get up and do something different. Instead of checking your phone, do something else. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, just walk around the block one time. It’s not going to kill you, I promise. If you do the same things everyday, don’t expect different results. If you wake up everyday and think “I’m going to have a bad day”, you’re going to have a bad day. But if you continuously replace negative thoughts with positive ones, even if you’re not feeling positive, you will see a change. No, it won’t happen overnight. Some days you’ll want to give up and say, “Why the hell am I preaching this positivity if I don’t believe it?” Why? Because the power of mind is not a joke. Learn to harness it, and it will change your life.
Meditate. Meditate, meditate, and than meditate some more. Most of you won’t try it, and like me, when you don’t get instant results, you’ll give up. That’s the problem. You’ll pick something up, try it out, not get the results you want, and put it down two minutes later. Consistency is key to anything in life. If you want to learn how to meditate, sure, you could pay someone to teach you. You could take a class. There’s nothing wrong with investing your money into your health – it’s the best place you could invest. But if you’re saying “Well, I have no money, so I’ll never learn to meditate,” you’re wrong. As negative as the internet can be, it’s just as positive. You can look up Youtube videos for days and empower yourself. I started with this video, and personally it took me months to get anywhere. But I stuck with it, and within this journey of finding myself, I found my body was controlling my mind, instead of my mind controlling my body. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wirV265ZYSw
Exercise. Yes, exercise. I know you don’t want to hear that. I didn’t want to hear it either. “Well can’t I just sit on my ass and change from here?” Nope. Not only is it scientifically proven to help you mentally, it will help you physically. Don’t like to run? That’s fine. Find something you like to do. Swim, ride a bike, do anything. Something different, something where you’re outside enjoying nature and everything it has to offer. I promise if you do this, it’s healing. You have to push yourself. This isn’t going to be easy. But as I said in my blog post below this article, you have two choices. Sink or swim.
There are many, many other ways to deal with anxiety and depression. This is only the tip of the iceberg, and you have the power to search the vast internet to find different coping strategies. The most important thing I want to get across to you, is that if you’re feeling like you need help, please reach out to somebody. Once again, there are many medical professionals that are trained to deal with this. You may feel like you can’t be helped, but you’re wrong. There is no shame in asking for help. If you’re feeling suicidal, please know that there’s plenty of hope, if you look in the right places. Pick up the phone and call somebody. Call the hotline. 1-800-273-8255. There is help and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. For those of you who can’t see the light, I want you to know something. There was a time when I was so down, so depressed, and so tired that I felt like my life wasn’t worth living anymore. I made a legitimate attempt to change, and I can honestly say today that even though I still experience anxiety and depression – I am stronger, better, and happier than I’ve ever been in my entire life. So I promise if I can do it, so can you. There are many different types of pain you will feel in life, and many different ways to cope with them. Healthy and unhealthy.