Anxiety and depression are big, painful emotions that many people struggle with. Are you one of them? Perhaps you only deal with one or the other, or maybe you struggle with both regularly.
Sometimes, however, I think people only know that they feel gross, down, frustrated, stressed or sad. When we feel this way, we often don’t even want to really think about what we feel because we don’t want to get lost down that rabbit trail of figuring it out. I believe that is one of the biggest mistakes a person can make when they truly desire to improve their life and strive for happiness.
First off, do you know the difference between anxiety and depression? When I first thought of that question, I honestly had to stop and really think about it. I then decided to double-check with good ole Google to see if I had it straight.
These are common struggles for those with anxiety: (summarized in my words based on this article)
- Often thought of as “worry-warts.” They are always fearful about something bad happening, right now as well as the future.
- They often get stuck thinking about all the horrible things that could happen today, tomorrow, or ten years from now. Something is bound to go wrong, and they can’t stop thinking about it.
- They don’t put themselves in any situations where they are scared that their anxiety will take over and humiliate them. This can result in a lot of self-isolation.
- Getting fixated on the probability of death due to random circumstances, feelings or symptoms.
Depression rather shows itself as:
- Feeling of sadness that you cannot shake or possibly even identify.
- Feeling hopeless about a situation, or even your own abilities not being good enough.
- When you feel like you are worthless and all your efforts in life are worthless.
- You think of death often; your life is hopeless, you are worthless, and you are a burden on your loved ones.
The struggle with anxiety and depression is dealing with one of these alone is a huge struggle. But, commonly, one can create the other, so you find yourself fighting with both anxiety and depression.
While I’m not a therapist, and I always suggest seeking professional help (especially if you find yourself fixated on death or suicidal thoughts), I want to encourage you to try out these few practices that can be life-changing if used regularly.
1. Deliberately sit with your feelings and try to identify them to the best of your ability. Depression, anxiety and overwhelm for a lot of people can be a symptom of an unmet need or an emotion that isn't being taken care of. Check out this feelings wheel chart I found that can help narrow down specifically what you are feeling.
2. Once you’ve got a feeling, we will use worthless as an example, and I want you to remind yourself that you are not wrong or broken for feeling this way. Emotions are never right or wrong; they simply are what they are. Hating them or wishing you didn’t have them will not serve you; that will only start creating hatred and resentment toward your own faults.
3. Now, I want you to envision yourself sitting at a table, and your worthless feeling is sitting beside you. What would you say to it? “Hey, worthlessness, I see you. I see you hurting and in so much pain. I love you, just as you are. I am here, I see you, I love you, and we will figure this out.”
Learning to identify and name our emotions allows us to see it for what it actually is. When we don’t know, and we stay stuck in the “I just feel horrible” road, we can’t love ourselves where we need to be loved.
Staying stuck in the unknown is the perfect recipe for continued depression, anxiety, resentment, frustration and anger. Love and empathy are the antidotes.
I, for one, have struggled with both depression and anxiety. They come and go, but the one thing that stays the same is that getting help from other people helps keep me happier and more emotionally healthy. If you would like to be surrounded by other like-minded wonderful people, you can find us in my Facebook Group by clicking the button.