I was diagnosed with a major depressive disorder when I was 12. At this time in my life, I struggled with the simplest tasks, things that I previously enjoyed doing no longer filled me with joy or satisfaction. My depression often would present itself as severe anxiety attacks. I would hyperventilate, hide in small spaces, and overall completely zone out. I couldn’t remember what I was doing, or saying, during my anxiety attacks, and at my worst, I was having at least four a day.
I became a shell of who I was. With the help that I received from my family and doctors, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease; an autoimmune disease that causes my immune system to attack my thyroid, resulting in a reduced ability for my thyroid to make the hormones that my body needs. I’m on medication and monitor my hormone levels all the time.
Hospitalised for depression and anxiety
At 16, I was hospitalised twice for my depression and anxiety, as well as suicidal tendencies. That was the hardest time in my life, and I honestly didn’t see myself ever coming back from it. I struggled with my self-esteem, my self-worth, and my identity. I thought that I only needed the medication to control my emotions, but I was wrong. I am stable and happier than I have ever been because I took control of my own life. I changed my mindset. I started seeing myself as worthy of a beautiful life, worthy of more than what I had allowed myself to receive in the past, and in doing that I changed my life around and I would like to help you do that too. You are also worthy of a beautiful life.
The Statistics for depression and anxiety
- More than 300 million people, worldwide, suffer from depression and anxiety
- Less than half of the people affected by depression receive treatment
- 970 million people worldwide suffer from at least one mental illness
- 1 in 6 people have one or more mental disorders
Symptoms of Depression
- Mood swings
- General discontent
- Loss of interest in activities
- Restless sleep or oversleeping
- Loss of appetite or excessive hunger
- Social isolation
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Lack of concentration
- Suicidal Tendencies
Symptoms of Anxiety Disorder
- Unwanted thoughts
- Lack of concentration
- Excessive worrying
Tips on How to Combat Anxiety
Of course, medication can help in reducing the number of anxiety attacks that you experience as well as stabilising your anxiety levels, but you will also need tips and tricks that you can use, at any time, to help manage your stress and anxiety. Here are my 5 ways in which I deal with my anxiety:
My top three tips to combat anxiety
- When you feel like you’re about to have an anxiety attack, splash your face with cold water. The splash of water helps you to think more clearly and to take a deep breathe in, which will help to stop you from hyperventilating.
- Listen to calming music. I find deep sleep, or theta music, compilations on YouTube and Spotify to help slow down my breathing and calm down my mind.
- Write down what’s making you anxious and the possible outcomes for the situation that is making you anxious. Writing helps when you’re overthinking things, and you need to calm down and think about where you are and what is happening, rather than what your anxious mind is flashing at you.
Two more tips that I have recently discovered
- ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) videos. I recently found some ASMR videos to help me sleep, and I can definitely say that they’ve helped. I do not experience the “tingles” that people talk about, but the whispering and the tapping does leave me calmer and ready for bed.
- Meditate. Download a meditation app or look for some guided meditations on YouTube.
Tips on How to Combat Depression
Just like anxiety disorders, depression can be treated with medication, but here are a few extra tips and tricks to help you cope. Please be aware that these are not meant to replace your medication but to work in conjunction with the medication that your doctor has prescribed. Here are my top 5 ways in which I manage my depression:
My top three tips to combat depression
- I stick to an everyday routine. When you’re depressed, you need the structure that comes with getting out of bed, making your bed, showering, and getting dressed.
- Set some simple, manageable, future goals for yourself. Often people who are depressed feel as if they have nothing to look forward to and therefore by setting goals, you have something to strive towards and a reason to wake up in the morning.
- Talk to people that you can trust. Without a solid support system, I wouldn’t be where I am today.
Two more tips that will help you manage depression
- Try not to isolate yourself. The one way that I know I’m starting to become depressed again is when I start isolating myself from my friends and family. When this happens, we often get lost in our thoughts and don’t see the magic that the world has to offer us. Try to see at least one person a week outside of school or work. Meet them in a public place so you can also get other human interaction with people you haven’t met yet.
- Exercise. Exercising releases endorphins in your brain, which help to combat depression. It also adds another step to your daily routine that will help you be ready for the day ahead. Even just a short walk will do. Baby steps are key.
Prevention Hotlines for depression and anxiety
You are not alone. People that care about you, people that want to help you get better. Be strong and brave. You will get through this. The following are some prevention hotlines for South Africa, if you are from another country there are some lists on Wikipedia and some other websites as well:
- Pharma dynamics Police &Trauma Line
0800 20 50 26
- Adcock Ingram Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90
- Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
- SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837
- Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour
0861 435 787
Let’s stop the stigma. Get the help you need and live a beautiful life.
All my love