…are often close friends
Depression and anxiety are not only the most common mental illnesses, they are also very likely to occur together. Either simultaneously or one leading to the other. We have already had a conversation about depression, eating disorders and persistent depressive disorder and learned that each struggle and each illness is as individual as the people who suffer from them. One thing all of our interview partners have in common though is the fact that talking about their struggle helped them and continues to help them.
So this month we are going to talk about two very common illnesses:
Conversation #4 about depression and anxiety
What would be the title of your autobiography?
A normal -not so normal struggle.
When did you realize that you struggle with something not everyone struggles with?
When I couldn’t deal with it anymore and my friends and my family couldn’t help.
How does it affect your everyday life?
I’m constantly reminded of it. But after the hard part you know it is manageable and there are people and medication that can help. In the end it is one (big) personal struggle that one has to deal with.
How did your family & friends react when you told them? What impact did it have on you?
My family did not believe me. My friends didn’t know what else they could do to help. I had to look for help in my network and finally found a specialist.
What was the most valuable advice anyone has given you?
Two of my previous bosses told me that I should confront it. The funny thing is that I had issues with those managers in the beginning. In the end I appreciated their words of advice.
What did you discover to be a helpful coping strategy?
Doing sports, looking for a specialist, write and eat healthily.
How did it feel to reach out for help? Did anything make it easier for you to do so?
At first it wasn’t easy and I felt like it wasn’t helping but the doctor mentioned a reasonable time frame and it did work in the end.
Could you describe in one sentence what’s it like to live with anxiety and depression?
Sometimes it’s like you are your own prison guard and prisoner at the same time.
Is there anything that still bothers you about having to live with anxiety and depression, but you made your peace with it?
The feelings come and go. Sometimes I forget the techniques that help. But once I return to doing sports, talking, writing or just knowing that a specialist is there that I can talk to, releases the anxiety.
What’s something you want people to know about your condition?
That it stays with you and you will have to cope with it ALL your life, like diabetes. But just like diabetes, you can improve the situation by exercising, eating right, talking and writing.
What’s a positive thing about your illness? How did it have a positive impact on the person you are today?
It reminds me that through daily effort we can easily overcome something that before we thought was impossible to overcome.
If you recognize yourself or a loved one in this conversation, please don’t hesitate to seek help by a professional. Psyonline is a website that helps you find a therapist. In acute crisis you can call the Kriseninterventionszetrum or the Psychosozioale Notdienst.
[interview has been edited for length and clarity]