My clouded bubble
I have always been an anxious and worried person and became stressed very easily, however it had not really affected me since my early to mid teens (scarily I am now in my late 20’s).
My second bout of moderate depression had, or so I thought, first started due to work stress and anxiety. However after 6 weeks worth of panic, tears, lack of food and lack of sleep I a little over 2 weeks off for my wonderful Wedding and Honeymoon. I had hoped the break had refreshed me but upon my return the cycle started again. I felt so guilty for feeling the way I did, I’d just got married to my wonderful husband, have a fantastic family and friends and a good job with a very understanding employer. I felt so selfish that I was causing my loved ones to worry and that I was being so unproductive and disruptive at work. I couldn’t prioritize my thinking and guilt, fear and confusion were engulfing me.
My anxieties spiraled to further to the point where I was anxious about just about everything with regret and guilt over the past causing me great grief. Not long after my thoughts spiraling further and further into a black pit culminating in Thanatophobia or fear of death. Thus taking me back to the ultimate fear I hadn’t truly overcome in my teens.
Looking into this fear, ways to overcome it, theories, religious or otherwise on that unknown factor took over and I was spending most nights researching but not findings the answers I sought. Attempts to sleep sent me into a black hole of fear and I lay in bed shaking trying to rid myself of the thoughts. Self-help books did nothing to ease my fears or help me collect my thoughts and after a particularly difficult day and night I decided I needed some help and contacted the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) offered by my employer for counselling.
The following week I was signed off work having given myself a kidney and chest infection due to my inability to sleep for more than a couple of hours a night and my lack of food. The feeling of utter uselessness and shame was a difficult one to comprehend. I didn’t want to be letting people down but felt I was. I had a counselling session that week and it felt good to get a lot of my fears and thoughts out there to someone who could see from an outside perspective. I also continued to see my GP and although I didn’t want to take anti-depressants we settled on a herbal alternative which has worked for me.
From speaking with the counsellor it was clear to see my anxieties had really started at least some 14 months prior following the passing of a member of my extended family. The realization I had been coasting though my life for the past year or so was again one I had great difficulty comprehending. I had great regret over elements of my past, the majority of which were due to me being anxious about something or other and not truly living in the moment. One of my greatest fears, which is still one I am grappling with is not spending enough time with loved ones and not truly understanding the important things in life. Realising my own mortality brought about the fear that I had wasted a good chunk of my life studying very unimportant things, watching far too much television, spending too much time asleep (though sleep is most definitely a necessity to be able to function) and needlessly doing overtime and work rather than making the most of my opportunities and my loved ones. I had been floating along in a little bubble of anxiety with a clouded future.
6 sessions of CBT aided me to an extent but my fears of the unknown, the why’s, when’s, what’s and how’s of life, living, the past and the future needed (and still need) further drilling. Presently I am 16 weeks into sessions with a wonderful integrative counsellor who is accredited to the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. Talking over my fears is a massive help and to an extent I feel more in control of my life, I am able to work more efficiently and I make more of a conscious effort to spend quality time with people without too many distractions. I still have a long way to go but with the help of my counsellor I am beginning to feel there is a path of light through the dark cloud that presently surrounds me.
8 months after my first anxiety attack I feel I have learnt a lot but still have quite some way to go. My advice to and thoughts for anyone who feels any kind of fears and confusion would be:
· A number of people advised me that depression is an illness and although at first I wasn’t sure whether to believe this or not I now understand it is. It can creep up on anyone and is not something you can just “get over”. Viruses and diseases usually need treatment, so does mental illness.
· Consult your GP for a correct diagnosis and to discuss a course of treatment
· Depression is a very individual illness and in order for someone to help you they need to understand what is going on in your mind so talk about it. Getting it out in the open means you can’t hide from it. But equally don’t let anyone tell you how you feel, only you know how you feel and what you think. Help someone help you by telling them as much as you can. For me this was difficult due to the constant state of confusion but I find talking can help me make some sense of the confusion.
· If you are employed see if there is any assistance your employer can give you as many offer an EAP with telephone or face to face counselling, often this will be much quicker than the NHS waiting list for counselling
· Find a good integrative counselor, either on your own or with the assistance of the NHS or employers EAP and if you don’t feel someone is right for you look elsewhere.
· If you are religious you may be able to find help in your place of worship, if you have concerns or doubts the response to airing these one to one may surprise you and may give you a further avenue of assistance.
· Speak to your loved ones if you can, I feared placing my anxiety on them but it may be worse if they don’t know how you feel. As above the responses may surprise you. I never felt alone in depression knowing that sadly family and friends have and do suffer with it too. Seeing it eat away at my loved ones before is what gave me the strength initially to talk about it
· Look after yourself – if you don’t you can’t be there for the important people in your life.
Thus far I feel my main learning points have been
· I can’t change the past but I can try and atone for the mistakes I feel I have made
· I need to live in the present as much as possible, yes it is good to remember the past and learn from it, reminisce about good things but not dwell on the negatives. Looking to the future a little way can help me achieve hopes and dreams but not so much that I miss what’s going on in the here and now.
· This one still scares me but life is short. We are here for but a fleeting moment, there are many things we can’t truly control, the how, then when, the why. I try not to dwell on this too much but enough so I can take steps to exercise as much as is in my control. Diet and exercise can assist with hormonal and chemical imbalances. A jog tends to help me see more clearly around the confusion.
· My hopes and dreams haven’t changed all that significantly but they have “matured” and this is something I am working on with my husband, friends, family and counsellor.
Depression doesn’t always have to be a wholly negative experience; it can help you learn about yourself and others. Eventually a path through the confusion will become clear, though it will take varying amounts of time for each individual and there is no shame in needing some help on the way.
[26 year old female]
Regret, in my mind, is primarily a hurtful, hateful emotion, often aimed at internal chastisement. However are my regrets truly regrets, are they actually remorse?
According to www.perfectapology.com/regret.html the definitions differ:
- “Regret is a rational, intelligent and, on occasion, emotional reaction to some unexpected, unintended and often costly consequence of some event or action whereas
- Remorse, on the other hand, takes on a bitter, deeper form that elicits much stronger personal and emotional reactions to personal guilt, societal shame, humiliation, resentment and often anger”.
According to ww.dictionary.reference.com , though, regret as a noun can be defined as “a sense of loss, disappointment, dissatisfaction, etc”
Therefore taking on the latter definition my biggest regrets
- Being worried all the time:
Not only has this had a massive impact on my life but that of my family. I was such a nervous and anxious child it has had an overall impact on my health, instilled a fear and pessimistic instinct and had an impact on my relationships. The ability to relax and enjoy myself unfortunately doesn’t come naturally.
- Not realising what’s important in life:
When you’re younger and at school you’re told getting a good education and a degree is paramount. What they don’t tell you is it’s the things you aren’t taught in school which are of far more importance. Life experiences are far more important.
- Not spending quality time with people
Not being truly engaged in the moment when with my loved ones and not organising my time more efficiently to juggle relationships. At stages in my life I have spent too much time with friends and not enough with family and vice versa. Particularly in my teenage years where I was “a bedroom hermit” choosing to spend time alone with the pretence of studying rather than having good quality conversations with my parents. I have also been on numerous holidays, very few with my family.
- Not understanding my calling
When I was a teenager I wanted various careers, to work with animals, to work with children, to teach etc. I had never once considered a career in charitable causes. Now I am left feeling like I have not yet done anything of note with my life and my career. I went to college, university and undertook postgraduate study for a further 3 years and all, I feel, for something which I do not love.
- The above goes hand in hand with my regret of having not undertaken volunteer work or work experience within a charity or care environment.
- Not making the most of life’s opportunities
I had the opportunity to go on school trips but rarely went out of fear or angst. We went on trip to the USA and slept much of the road trip, no doubt missing out on many wonderful sights.
- Not travelling more
I have a love of beach holidays where I can escape from it all and do nothing. I thought I was fairly well travelled but then realised all my holidays have taken place on 2 continents. I have never been to South America, Australasia, Africa or Asia, in fact I have only been to 2 countries within Europe. I fear at my age I have perhaps left it too late to go on a big trip, I have too many fears for my loved ones and too much to atone for in line with the above regrets.
- Not having children earlier
I have always felt like an old soul, and now hurtling toward 28 I fear I have left it too late to have children, particularly as I have just been diagnosed as having polycystic ovaries. I fear if I cannot have children I will have let my husband, family and friends down. Not only is it likely I will not get the joys of nurturing a child and seeing them grown and flourish but nor will they. I fear if indeed I cannot have children it will affect us more as we grow older and all our friends have children. Conversely however I have always been worried about the ethics of having children so perhaps this is fate’s intervention with removing that decision from my path if indeed that is the outcome of further consultations.
Whether my feelings are technically remorse or regret makes no matter, such emotions need to be put to good to better oneself as continual chastisement will not have a positive impact.
The journey to prevent such regret and guilt taking hold is a tough one and it is far easier said than done, but I firmly believe if I cannot do so I risk losing out on much more. Living in the moment is what life should be, not dwelling on the past so much it affects the ability to do so. If you need to dwell or reminisce do so on the good, not the bad, but if you must dwell on the bad, only do so once the experience has been put to good use.
[26 year old female]