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Belongs to: Underoath's Aaron Gillespie Describes Anxiety
Almost 40, and still struggle with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression as well. I also require medication and therapy every week.
It’s hard to feel like by the time you hit 40, you’d have expected for these problems to have gone away, or to feel like the requirements for mental health maintenance on your life would have been lessened. It feels weighty to be like - I’ve been carrying this for so long, why is it not lighter? Why am I not better? And it can feel shameful because as I get older, shouldn’t I be “more steady / secure / whole” instead of feeling like I’m still broken?
I can relate to this in a lot of ways. I have personally struggled with an addiction - while in active recovery - for over 12 years. Some days it just feels like - what’s wrong with me?
Shame, especially around mental health issues, is something that can keep us from taking great strides - or from recognizing the great strides we’ve already taken.
When I hear that you are /still/ taking care of yourself through medication and therapy, to me, that sounds like a badge of honor. It would be like someone saying, “Yeah I went to the gym back when I was in college but then stopped.” Versus someone who says, “Yeah I’ve been going to the gym since I was in college and never stopped going.” I’d be much more prone to celebrate the person who is continuing, as a lifestyle, a habit of caring for themselves.
I think these activities are more a signal of your commitment to wellness than exposure of your brokenness. And for that, I’m proud of you! And hope a new perspective may create new hope or appreciation in you too
Dang friend even the way you started this comment sounds seeped in pain and a feeling of unmet expectations. I hear this undertone of “I should be better by now” and that’s a really difficult place to be, because it discounts all of the progress you’ve made and discounts the courage it takes to actually receive and commit to the help you need. Going to therapy and taking medication requires constant dedication and determination and that is something to be so proud of.
Personally, I’m a therapist and I STILL struggle with depression and anxiety. I think we believe that age or expertise should prevent us from struggling, but the truth is that there are certain things we need to do in order to maintain health. It’s like working out, it doesn’t matter how much I worked out when I was 20 if I stop working out now I’m going to lose strength. I have to keep showing up consistently to maintain my fitness goals and it’s the same for mental health. There isn’t something wrong with you because you need medication or therapy. In fact there is something so RIGHT about you because you’re taking the action needed to stay healthy.
Sending you all the love,
Thank you so much for opening up about those feelings. You’ve only shared a couple of words, but we can feel the weight of it for you, and how much this realization may be painful to you. It’s hard to feel like time keeps going on and we keep on aging, but some significant areas of our life may be the same – or at least, seem to be the same – as years ago.
I deeply relate to what you’ve described (not 40, 30 here) as I am currently navigating depression medication withdrawals. As it has to come progressively, I realize how much it may have to be slower than I thought, if not impossible at all. Decades later I’m also still on a medication that help my physical health, but when I was younger I kind of promised to myself that I wouldn’t have to be on it for the rest of my life.
It’s hard. It’s just hard to face different outcomes that what you might have expected initially. Too often also, we see therapy and medications as a sign of weakness or failure until we get back to some state of “normal”, while really we wouldn’t think the same way of someone in a wheelchair for example. Anxiety, panic attacks, depression are all valid struggles. They may be invisible to the eye, but they have a real effect on our life, and there is nothing to be ashamed of when it comes to needing them.
Throughout those years, I bet you have learned and progressed in many ways, and maybe it’s difficult to see it for now. I would love to invite you to take some time to reflect on the who you were decades ago, and who you are today. You are have grown. You have developed strengths over time. They may not be as visible or extended as you wished before, but I can assure you that it’s there. I’m personally so very proud of you for seeking support. The struggles you’re facing can be so very isolating, and our mind can be such a dark place when we face depression. It does take strength and resilience to persevere. The very fact that you are here, that you are able to open up, to talk about it and bring perspective over it is very significant.
You are whole. You are a strong human being.
@HeartSupport - Mental Health Community Micro - Thank you for such a kind, well thought out, and friendly response! I find it unfortunate to hear that you’re suffering as well. Especially with withdrawals from medication. I’m sure I’ll have to face the same one-day (but hey, if it means I’ll no longer require medication, it’s a battle I’ll willingly fight).
You’re absolutely correct. As I mentioned to someone else on your team - if I were to self-medicate with alcohol, in order to prevent anxiety and panic attacks, I’d likely feel no guilt (as alcohol is commonly accepted in society… even though it’s literally toxic). The “guilt” part comes from social conditioning, which is a bit challenging to “unlearn”. That said, I’m really only using medication when I feel it’s an absolute necessity (but even that is more than I’d like).
And yes, throughout the years I have without a doubt learned and progressed. Especially during the past 3-years. I’ve been working on making very large changes (thanks to both Cognitive Therapy and Physical Therapy). As you said - it really does take strength and resilience to persevere. So thank you for seeing the strength in me! I also really appreciate what you said about depression. It’s true; depression can absolutely isolate you (even if you’re not physically alone), and can bring your mind to dark, unfathomable places.
You are a strong human being yourself! Keep up all the great work! I know you’ll overcome these withdrawals
@HeartSupport - Mental Health Community taylorpalmby - Thank you for all the love and support. I try not to view my issues as “I should be over this by now”, however, it still surprises me at times. I do agree that such an outlook somewhat negates the daily (or hourly) effort put towards continuing to exist.
I attend weekly sessions for both Cognitive Therapy and Physical Therapy. Even though I still struggle with both a physical and mental component, I am actually extremely proud of how far I’ve come. Especially in the past 3-years…
I have a friend that works directly for a county in Southern California as a trauma counselor and therapist. He initially got into therapy in hopes of figuring out his own depression and anxiety. However, he still struggles just as much as he did before getting licensed (sometimes I’d say he even struggles more, as he occasionally works with children). So I completely understand what you mean when you say “we believe age or expertise should prevent struggling”.
Your analogy to working out is spot on! So what if you spent 3-days a week at the gym 20-years ago. What about now?! You have to keep showing up. As Stephen Hawking said - “Half the battle is just showing up”.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to me with such a heart-felt message. I appreciate you. Keep up all the great work you’re doing!
@HeartSupport - Mental Health Community NateTriesAgain : I appreciate all your kind, thought-felt, words. Sometimes I’ll feel guilty over taking a medication to stop a panic attack, however, that’s due to social conditioning. I likely wouldn’t feel guilt if I were using alcohol to medicate, as it’s a drug that is embraced and celebrated within society. But take a pill to help a cognitive (dis)function… “shame on you”.
I enjoyed reading the gym analogy you made. I actually just returned from two back-to-back sessions between Cognitive Therapy and Physical Therapy! Thank you for sharing your perspective with me! I really appreciate you and your time.