Anxiety vs. Depression
By Melissa Owens
Anxiety and depression are close relatives, they aren’t opposite qualities. The way that anxiety manifested itself in my life during my college days was that it caused a state of hyper-alertness. My brain seemed “on” all the time. I wasn’t able to settle my racing thoughts and concerns enough to watch a television show or to laugh with friends about a funny joke. To me, there was nothing funny about the state of mind that I was in. Anxiety wasn’t something I felt I could shut off so I became weary. Depression set in to balance out that hyper alertness but managing that process for me, was exhausting. Sleep was either a welcome escape or a torturous mental process. Everything seemed worse during the dawn or dusk periods of the day. I knew I could not go on like this, but as a young lady, inexperienced in life, I wasn’t sure that I wouldn’t. I thought I just might be actually going crazy. So, I went on a search, a search for mental health, after all, I could not deny that others around me were in a different place than I was. Right? That was my logic. So I started reading whatever I could get my hands on and by the way, back in the mid 80’s the internet super highway was not even a thing, so it was all word of mouth. I ran across a book called Worry Free Living by Frank Minerth and Paul Meier and Don Hawkins.
This was the book that saved my life. It finally gave a name (anxiety) to my symptoms and gave me a direction to go. I felt hope! I would not have to suffer forever with these anxious and depressive thoughts. Today, some 30 years later, I see those times from a distance and with more much clarity. I remember the feelings because they were so intense and lasted so long. I’ll never forget them. I actually had to drop out of my third year of college because anxiety and depression were causing such a distraction in my life. One of the many things I took away from the book was that I was in control of my thoughts, and that I was in control of what was happening to me. At that time, I did not believe I was in control, but when I purposefully began approaching it from that perspective, because let’s face it, what did I have to lose, then suddenly there were tons of new possibilities. Another thing that the book claimed, and I know this to be true for me today, was that anxiety and depression are caused by hidden or repressed angry or guilt. This statement I found almost to be comical because as an anxious person I did not feel angry, I felt helpless. I did not have a clue where to look for what I might be repressing. It was puzzling to me, but I remained open to the idea that it just might be true, for me. And, it was. For the sake of time, I cannot go into all of the reasons I discovered about why I was angry but I did in fact find them and thus found relief from my anxiety and depression. Long-awaited and oh so grateful, I now pursue others who suffer from anxiety and depression to encourage them and to empower them to get their life back. Self-discovery takes time, but you can find relief from these emotionally charged conditions when you get the right kind of help and assistance. Be a student of yourself and a defender of your right to be alive and to be healthy and to love life. It is possible to live a life free from anxiety and worry and to CHOOSE where you want to be and how you want to feel, in spite of your circumstances. What I mean by that is, how you show up energetically to stress in your life is what makes the difference. How you intentionally approach your circumstance is more important than what your circumstances actually are. When you are level-headed and calm then you can make better choices with regard to your circumstances rather than react emotionally to where you are and what’s going on in your world. THIS mindset is a place of peace; a place of empowerment and a place of hope. Seek it out. Anxiety and depression are closely related, they are there to point us to a place of introspection and to a place a self-care. I wish you all the best in your pursuit of peace. Mo