Anxiety and Depression: How I Found My Way Back

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I’m so excited to get back to writing and launch the new site, YouTube channel, and podcast. I’ve conquered demons, faced my fears, worked on my mental and physical health—and I’m ready to dive back in.

But in 2017, I hit an awful roadblock when anxiety and depression sucked the life out of me. The massive cultural shift that began in the summer of 2015 caught me completely off guard—even after spending the better part of fifteen years online. I spent most of 2016 extremely stressed out—fighting with my family and strangers online. It all took a toll—and after the election, I shut down.

Since I generally take a nosedive after the holidays due to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder), I tried all the things I usually do to feel better, but nothing was working. My winter routine is to keep the lights bright, exercise, try to eat well and force myself to get outside. It helps to pretend that I live on the Space Station and must exercise—or I won’t be able to walk when I come back to earth. Most of the time, it works!

Anxiety and depression can sneak up on you.

But I could feel things going south. It wasn’t helping that the environment that I consider my workplace, the internet, was becoming a place I didn’t want to work anymore.

I knew I wasn’t alone. I chatted with a few other bloggers who were saying, ‘Who is going to care about my bathroom remodel in this insane environment?’ Were the only successful people selling ways to be successful? Scrolling through Instagram and Twitter sure made it feel that way.

Even though I was trying to keep calm and carry on, my anxiety was wreaking havoc with my sleep, and I was becoming less and less effective in my ‘must do’ tasks and completely unable to perform tasks that required a lot of creative thinking. I wanted to leave the internet, stream movies, and hang out with my dogs. I wondered if my best years might be behind me. Then I started to withdraw.

Luckily, I’ve been to dark places before. I know what it feels like when I need to see a doctor. (By the way—you should absolutely see a doctor to determine the cause of, and how to treat your depression.) I’ve also learned that with SAD, things ALMOST ALWAYS eventually improve on their own. But this time knew I needed help to manage my growing anxiety, as not being able to sleep becomes a real problem very quickly!

It was time to go on meds.

The road back: Prozac and hormones.

I have a love-hate relationship with Prozac. It works great for anxiety but also makes me gain weight like CRAZY. I gained a lot of weight quickly, but I felt more focused. I considered it a victory just to get some sleep.

To further complicate matters, my hormones have started going insane. A few years ago, I read The Wisdom of Menopause, by Dr. Christiane Northrup, and thought, okay, cool—I’ve got this. I was like, Ha-ha. My eggs are dying. And why is Jennifer Aniston suddenly obsessed with her dry eyes? But now I’m like OMFG, MY EGGS ARE DYING. I FEEL LIKE ABSOLUTE HELL. AND WHAT IS THIS DRY EYE SHIT? No one told me about the dry eye part of aging. I know there is a considerable range of experiences and symptoms in the early part of menopause, but in my case, it felt like I had the flu. No wonder I was losing my mind.

Side Note: It’s important to see a doctor about your anxiety and depression because there can be a lot of factors, including hormones, that can affect your mood!

So, my hormones and the internet were raging, my family life was growing more complicated, and my brain was being uncooperative. Naturally, I started to think about completely overhauling other aspects of my life—because apparently, I like total and complete chaos.

Creating order out of chaos.

I’ve been talking about down-sizing my home and possessions for a few years and have started the organizing process. We have a lot of creative spaces in our house and storage that is out of control. And we’re starting to inherit dead people’s stuff that we don’t necessarily want. More on this in a future post. (I understand this is a first-world problem.)

I’m ready to move on from a traditional family home, or at least a much smaller place. My husband is not—which is okay—I’ve got a lot to do on my own first. I devoured the KonMari series on Netflix in one day. (I also enjoy The Minimalists blog, but I’m never going to be that hardcore.) And while I’m not entirely on board with every detail, Kondo did motivate me to get serious about simplifying. It made me realize all the ways my mental and physical stuff are keeping me from being my best self.

A fresh start!

I’m much clearer about my priorities now that my anxiety and depression are in check. And I’m looking forward to the relaunch of my YouTube channel and podcast. I want to simplify my life and write more. Keep my body and mind healthy. Cherish the people and animals in my life. Do the work that I need to do to meet my personal goals. To be okay with aging, even when it’s weird and sometimes awful. And to talk openly about these things so that other women know they aren’t alone.

The hardest part about anxiety is feeling strong enough to create without worrying about what happens after. It’s not going to be perfect. It’s going to feel weird to make videos and podcasts again—but it’s also going to be fun. When I experience my perfection tendencies creeping up on me, I rewatch Hank Green’s video on getting things 80% of the way there.

And that’s where I’ll leave this post—80% of the way there with much more to come.

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