16 Oct Anxiety, ADHD, and Depression
Anxiety, ADHD, and Depression.
Unfortunately, I suffer from all 3. I wish I could tell you that it’s easy, but it’s not. I’ll be honest, it sucks. I hate it. My biggest insecurity comes from having mental illnesses and not having the power to control it. I have to take medications every single morning and trust me, I really don’t want to.
People with ADHD often have trouble communicating what they are feeling. Thus, I will be referencing quotes from this article: https://www.additudemag.com/adhd-anxiety-depression-the-diagnosis-puzzle-of-related-conditions/, throughout this post to explain the effects that mental illness has on my mental state.
Suffering from anxiety, ADHD, or depression alone is tough, but all suffering from all 3… Well, sometimes it’s crippling. Lately, I have had trouble getting myself to eat, let alone sleep. My mental health is the worst it’s ever been.
I was diagnosed and medicated for generalized anxiety disorder a year ago. I was diagnosed and medicated for ADHD only 2 months ago. Throughout my life, I have endured numerous seasons of depression, some longer and harder than others. My first memory dates back to when I was 5 and in my first season of depression. Unfortunately, I am mentally in the midst of the hardest season I’ve ever had to endure.
“ADHD is often missed when it co-exists with depression or anxiety, and vice versa… Having ADHD is challenging enough, but the other disorders that accompany ADHD profoundly affect a person’s daily life.”
My anxiety could have been diagnosed early on, but people in my life were not aware of the importance of mental health. Anxiety has made me shake and physically ill ever since I can remember. The symptoms of anxiety have always been prevalent in my life. In fact, my social anxiety was so severe from bullying and social isolation when I was younger that it concealed my personality and hyperactivity.
Upon my anxiety diagnosis, it did not occur to anyone that there may be something else causing the debilitation of my mind. My anxiety got better, but something was still wrong, I was still “different.” I could not perform tasks in the same way that my peers could, as I could not focus for the life of me.
It’s a common stereotype that people with ADHD perform poorly in school. With me and a lot of creative individuals, that’s not the case. I am extremely hard-working, organized, and driven. I will do whatever it takes to reach my goals and won’t stop until I get there. I spend absurd amounts of time on tasks in order to succeed. Once I’m determined, there’s no stopping me. Yes, this is great, but it’s negative when I get so focused on what I have to do that I don’t make time for myself (i.e. not eating/sleeping).
What people fail to realize is that ADHD, anxiety, and depression are a cycle. Each mental illness feeds off the other. As one gets worse, all three get worse. The longer each mental illness goes untreated and undiagnosed, the worse it gets. I went 19 years without knowing that I had any kind of psychological dysfunctions, so they gradually got worse over the years.
“With ADHD, loss of appetite is caused by hyper-focusing on another activity or related to stimulant treatment.”
I have no motivation to eat. Why? Because all I can think about is the other tasks at hand.. whether it be school work, Young Life preparation, one of my entrepreneurial efforts, my latest creative venture, or whatever it is that my brain has decided to hyper-focus on. I can’t rest until that task is complete to the point where I literally do not sleep.
“Many with ADHD do not sleep enough (hyperactive types).”
I would be one of those hyperactive types and barely sleep. The less sleep I get, the less likely I am to eat, and the worse my ADHD, anxiety, and depression are. Thus, it becomes harder and harder to carry out basic tasks.
“Many with ADHD feel guilt over not getting something done in time, interrupting a friend in conversation, or running through the house and breaking Mom’s favorite vase.”
I was oblivious to the fact that I have a tendency to talk at 100 miles per hour, interrupt people, and unknowingly fidget constantly until my friends informed me after I began taking ADHD medication. Now that I know, I can work on it… But before I was diagnosed or knew, there was nothing I could do. Mentally, I beat myself when I accidentally interrupt someone.
“Studies find that depression in individuals with ADHD is often caused by relationship conflicts or social isolation related to ADHD symptoms.”
My anxiety and ADHD escalate instantly and make me sick when I am in conflict with someone I have a relationship with.. friendships, closer acquaintances, people I encounter on a daily basis. Basically, if I make anyone mad or sad, I can’t function because I feel guilty. And all I can do is worry about it. I have to fight myself mentally to concentrate on other things in these situations.
“Having ADHD itself can cause lots of stress. Executive functioning issues affect every part of a person’s life. Disorganization, time mismanagement, procrastination, and frustration over failed intentions create a state of anxiety for individuals with ADHD. Learning disabilities, which affect 50 to 60 percent of students with ADHD, are highly associated with academic anxiety.”
I used to struggle a lot with procrastination, but I have worked on improving that for almost 6 years and try to work a week ahead in order to alleviate potential stress. For me, I do not struggle with disorganization, but I literally can not function if things are not organized. I always get things done, but that may result in no sleep or not eating on my behalf. I mismanage my time in not making time for myself to recharge. I get very frustrated and tend to dwell on these thoughts when my intentions fail. At times, it gets so bad as to make me physically sick.
“Anxiety is defined as a feeling of unease, tension, or nervousness related to stressful or uncertain events… The diagnosis of anxiety or having an anxiety disorder is made when the condition is more than a temporary state of being, it gets worse, and there is significant interference in the activities of daily living.”
For the past two months or so, I have felt a constant unease and jitteriness. My anxiety medication helps me not to shake, but mentally I am still jittery and my fidgeting escalates dramatically. Doing nothing or relaxing makes me anxious, which does not help because I never give myself time to take a break or recharge. My body doesn’t know how to remain still, neither does my brain.
“Anxiety expresses itself in a variety of physical symptoms — cold or sweaty hands, shortness of breath, heart palpitations, dry mouth, flushed face, numbness or tingling in the hands and/or feet, nausea, muscle tension, migraine headaches, acid reflux, tics, erectile dysfunction, constipation or diarrhea, and dizziness.”
I have had symptoms of shortness of breath, dizziness or feeling light-headed, flushed face, fevers, numbness or tingling throughout my body, nausea, migraines, muscle tension, tics, diarrhea, and heat flashes because of the effect that stress has on my body.
“Anxiety makes it very hard to sleep. In the case of anxiety, sleep problems are due to constant worry as well as fears and irrational thoughts.”
Recently, I have been terrified for my safety when I am alone, but especially at night. It’s always hard to turn my brain off to fall asleep, but fear only makes it 10x worse. Of course, my brain instantly jumps to the worse thing that could possibly happen. The worst of these thoughts occur in the forms of nightmares once I finally fall asleep. Unfortunately, I am unable to control my dreams.
“People with an anxiety disorder may know that their fears are irrational, but they cannot help taking them seriously.”
Even when I am awake, some days, my irrational fears seem so vivid; almost a reality. Fear is a scary thing if you let it rule your thoughts or decisions. Fear increases my shaking and lately, I’ll wake up terrified and crying in the middle of the night. Sometimes, I can’t even recall the dream, so I have no idea why I am crying… which only worsens my anxiety and brings more frustration as my emotions do not make sense. But that’s the thing about mental illness, it doesn’t make sense.
“One of the common behaviors of anxious people is avoidance. Whether it is about things perceived as contaminated (OCD) or socially related situations (social anxiety disorder), avoidance is an attempt to prevent feeling anxious. However, avoidance only leads to more anxiety, since it prevents a person from practicing how to tolerate that situation.”
Avoidance explains why I suppress my negative emotions and attempt to hide them from myself. I have been doing as many things as possible and piling too much on my plate in order to keep myself busy. This allows me to avoid dealing with the painful emotions that I’m experiencing mentally. If I’m busy, then I can avoid the depression and difficulties that ADHD and anxiety welcome into my life. The problem with avoidance is that the problem is never dealt with. I am not learning how to deal and cope with my psychological disorders. Thus, it always comes back worse. The longer something is avoided, the worse it gets. Thus, the more anxiety, ADHD, and depression will add stress and difficulty to my life.
“With anxiety, a person finds it hard to stay focused because of worry, fear, and obsessive, unwanted thoughts. With ADHD, anxious thoughts can be a distraction, but they can also be pleasant.”
In addition to ADHD, anxiety also takes away from my focus. Lack of focus also impairs my ability to listen to others and comprehend what they would like to communicate with me. The cycle is terrible and blows my mind as to how quickly my mental health state can negatively plummet.
“Those with ADHD often like change, as they get bored easily, but they may also find change stressful, since it requires new ways of engaging with their environment.”
I enjoy a change of scenery, events, and location. However, I am the most directionally challenged human you will ever meet. I always overcomplicate simple tasks and make situations harder than they need to be. I stress myself out when I miss a turn because I then start to worry about arriving late to my destination. Then I worry that I will inconvenience others and feel guilty. And then I jump to ruining relationships, and it’s a rapid, never-ending chain of thoughts that only stress me out. I stress myself out.
“Knowledge is power. Dealing with ADHD symptoms is challenging enough. Dealing with depression or anxiety, too, is debilitating.”
The only way to improve mental illness is to be aware. The more you know, the more you can do. That’s the point of this post. Be aware. Know that mental illness is alive and real, it’s important. The state of your mental health determines your physical health. The younger the age of diagnosis for mental illnesses, the easier it is for an individual to adapt and “retrain” his or her brain.
No, I am not any different from anyone else… Just the way in which my brain processes things. ADHD, anxiety, and depression do not define me. I just have to be creative and navigate my way around a few extra obstacles that the lord placed in my path for a reason. I have a natural tendency to work harder than necessary because that’s what I’m used to and it’s all I’ve ever known. ADHD allows for the influx of my creativity because of all the thoughts that go through my head. I can’t imagine life without my experiences. All of these things add to my character and who I am. If I gave up easy, I wouldn’t be here right now.
You can’t choose your circumstances, but you can choose how you react to them. And, you can choose the perspective in which you view life… For me, I see positivity and joy in the little things like dogs, baby animals, sunsets, riding dirt roads, discovering new meaning in a bible verse, starting a new book, cuddling with my dog, excitement over Louie Giglio’s new sermons… Life is what you make of it. God is good always. He never stops being good. Some seasons are just harder than others. You can choose to persevere. I may just be surviving right now, but a season of thriving is around the corner.
This is my life. This is what I’m experiencing right now. I don’t know what I’m doing, but I doubt you do either. And that’s why we have relationships with people, and why God placed his holy spirit in us to give us his power. You’re not going through life alone, you have company at the valleys and the peaks. Keep persevering! The sun gets brighter.
xx, God Bless,