Browse Personal Stories
Hi to all who struggle every day. I've been struggling with anxiety, panic attacks and depression for most my life. I have been struggling since I was a child with these disorders and have seen terrible downward spirals. I couldn't get along in school or work and keep a job to support myself, a hell of a long road that nearly never ends. And I just had to put down the best little dog anyone has ever seen.
I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression when I was 13. I found out what mental health was a couple of days later by having a panic attack. After going to a therapist my mental health was getting better. Two years later my cousin passed away in a car crash. That year started off as wreck when he died in January. It was really tough that year. I struggled to keep my grades up and my anxiety/depression proceeded to get worse. I depended on someone to distract me from what was going on. My happiness only depended on them.
My struggle with depression and anxiety is one I still deal with every day. The hardest part is learning how to re-parent myself, to learn how to cultivate self-love, to be curious about what life might be like without my harsh inner critic.I grew up letting that inner voice, letting my fears and anxieties bury me.
With the #MeToo movement and the rising numbers of people affected by mental health, romance novels play a part in empowering women.
As someone who has suffered chronic depression and has a family history of anxiety and addiction, I decided to take it upon myself (once I figured out my career and made enough money to support myself and my family) to make a change in the world.
BabyGirl was a miniature (puddin) Jack Russell who was 8 years old and only 6 pounds. She was famous in the TikTok world, having 1.5 million followers before she passed away.
The Custom Journal is a wellness company that uses the power of personalized journaling to help mitigate the everyday feelings of anxiety and stress.
What do four female athletes who broke a world record rowing 2,400 nautical miles across the Pacific Ocean and people who suffer from depression, anxiety and co-occurring disorders have in common?
What is common between the Anxiety & Depression Association of America and a Posture Apparel brand? If you stumble to find the answer, you are not alone.
Work It Towels is a San Diego, CA mother and son premium fitness towel business created to inspire everybody to move. Our gym towels are incredibly soft, absorbent and motivational. We strongly believe exercise plays a significant role in maintaining positive mental health.
I have chosen to focus on my healing, and to say only a few words about my long period of suffering. Chances are, you already know – firsthand or secondhand – more than you'd care to know about the suffering! My own suffering had its unique form, but essentially, it was no different from what you probably already know.
I created this video because, for as long as I can remember, mental health has been a daily factor in my life-- something which has weighed me down at times and made me want to hide from the world. I wanted to share this video because I thought maybe, just maybe, it could inspire courage and strength in someone else who struggles with similar hardships. If I could inspire just one person, then this video was a success and worth all the time I spent making it.
I am Kealee Hohmann. A confident, courageous and ambitious woman who works in the construction industry. However, physical appearance does not tell someone exactly who you are or what you have been through. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in May of 2020.
You are sitting on a chair listening to a conversation between two people. One of them is your mentor—a psychologist with a specialty in clinical psychology—and the other is a voluntary participant in a clinical research study.
Sunset Therapy Apparel is a Mom and Daughter business that was created to spread awareness and offer support for those who are personally affected or have loved ones affected by mental illness. In the United States alone, 1 in 5 adults will experience a mental illness at some point in their lives.
I grew up in a "normal" environment. We've all heard it before; single mom, dad out of the picture, struggles, triumphs, smiles and tears. That's how it was for me too. Except I've always had this "off" feeling within me. Some people referred to it as worry—that I was a worrier—so much that a nickname I had was Worry Wort.
“Self Care” is a self-initiated social project, consisting of 12 illustrated posters dedicated to showing ways to take care of oneself in depression:
You Can Teach an Old(er) Dog – With OCD – New Tricks! (Or Why I Attended an OCD Treatment Program in My Late 40s)
About the author: As an anxious mom in search of calm, Melissa Lewis-Duarte, Ph.D. writes about living with anxiety and mindfulness-based behavioral change in real life. Prior to founding Working On Calm, she enjoyed working as a business consultant, college instructor, and corporate trainer. Melissa earned a Ph.D. in Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. Currently, she lives with her husband in Scottsdale, AZ, managing their chaotic life, three young boys, and a barking dog.
Why is it that artists so often depict two autonomous versions of the self? The self leaning on the sink and the self reflected in the mirror. The self pacing the kitchen in a frenzy and the self calmly seated at the table. The self barricaded inside the walk-in freezer at work for just a moment of solitude and the self leaning nonchalantly against the frozen french fries, without a care in the world.
My introduction to the stigma that surrounds mental health happened at a young age, and the topic was always so taboo in my community. However, ever since I started college back in 2007, general anxiety has been a regular part of my life.
On June 17th, 2019 I founded The Tea Giver Project in the middle of the night while battling depression.
I have always suffered with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, but really hit rock bottom about 5 years ago after my hysterectomy. About 18 years ago after the birth of my first child I suffered some complications. To this day, I can replay every moment - this is when the doctors diagnosed me with PTSD.
As a musician, my life is normally spent on the road performing, making music with people, and interacting with show-goers and friends. All of that got completely overturned when quarantine started. I was in a serious state of depression for 6 months, basically it began as soon as the pandemic started. The stress of everything happening in the world really made my mental state decline. I didn’t know how to deal with it at first and was really struggling. What helped me most was writing music.
One night I realized one of my truest fears was the idea of being quietly alone with my own thoughts. I would rather fill my time with any noise and distraction I could, rather than allow myself to slow down long enough to listen to my inner dialogue.
I can remember it like yesterday, the fateful day when everything changed; the day that changed the course of my life forever. I was ten years old and up until that year my life was seemingly perfect. I had two loving parents, an awesome older brother, and tons of friends and even a cute school crush to swoon over. But, over that year, my easy-going life of no worries rapidly changed. My older brother started getting into trouble at school--hanging out with the “wrong crowd” and ostensibly overnight he changed from my hero to my enemy.
I remember it like it was yesterday. My first panic attack. I was 8 years old, and I felt like I was dying. The worries in my mind had taken over my body and it was as if I had no control over what was happening to me. Growing up, anxiety was not talked about often or understood by most people. The stigma, embarrassment, and shame led me to keep this part of me hidden.
Many of us involved in the arts maintain a complicated tango with our mental health. For someone like me, a theatre director, actor and songwriter with lifelong OCD and anxiety, an overactive imagination has been a source of both severe difficulties and some of my most creative work. The same impulse that makes me need to touch everything three times is the one that, when I’m staging a show, makes me meticulous about finding the perfect image.
“Toxic Support” is a series of 12 illustrated posters dedicated to revealing the toxicity of phrases people say to someone with depression. This is a self-initiated social project, the idea for which came to me after experiencing the effects of depression myself as well as seeing them in a loved-one.
I want to write this post to hopefully share some of my experiences with self sabotage & anxiety. I published my first book “Falling Angel : Rising Phoenix” as a therapeutic release, I woke up one day and realized that my life was starting to go down a rabbit hole, I looked in the mirror and didn’t like the person that I was becoming, I started asking myself, Who am I?
In 2014, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. Although I received the diagnosis when I was twenty-seven, it was something I always struggled with. In my book, Conquering Mountains, I share the experiences I have had that led to this diagnosis. From the age of six when I heard the sound of my dad’s mighty right hand striking my mother. To the worries of where we would live after evictions. The stress of moving from place to place, year after year. By the time I graduated from high school we moved about eighteen times.
My name is Brittany Cissell. I am a Pre-K teacher in Springdale Arkansas, and I am the author and illustrator of Otis the Aussiedoodle. Otis is my 3-year-old Australian Shepard/Poodle mix. He joined our family in February 2020, after being re-homed. Otis was originally saved from a suspected puppy mill and was in pretty bad condition when he was adopted.
When I wrote this song, someone close to me was suffering with depression, and I deeply desired with all my heart and soul to soothe them, give them relief. This song was my gift, a message of love to them.
Teacher, May I be Excused to the Toilet? Don’t Feel So Well. Not Sure Why, I Feel Nervous all the Time…
These are the words I could never say in school. Every day was a silent struggle... Praying my name wasn’t called in class, avoiding friends on the soccer field, and engaging in substances that I was far too young to experience.
“I’m fine; leave me alone” he says as I find myself, yet again, prodding, nagging, trying to help
The words hit me
Not just in our own dance of push and pull
But also in that of another anxiety-ridden parent-child relationship, this one where I am the child
Was it only last week that I found my 44 year-old self saying these same words to my own mother
As she was expressing her concern about my own issue that I wanted to deny
And so it is, this game we play
Growing up as a terrified Amish child was extremely difficult because I could not speak to anyone about my fears, nightmares, and personal illusions that were perceived as reality. My family did not believe in any form of expression or communication because we were in the strictest Amish sect. They did not even believe in hugging their children or saying I love you.
“You have no idea what it feels like inside my brain,”
My child once said to me, as I was losing my patience and compassion
For what felt like the millionth time in his young life
That he asked me if I had washed my hands before touching something
And, he was right, as much as I tried, I (and others) could have had no idea what it feels like to live every single day
It seems so unreal that back in 2000 when I was first diagnosed with depression and anxiety that I could ever imagine I would have found the PERFECT tool for my toolbox and my BEST medicine; that would have helped me cope with all these important mental health issues that I face. I attend therapy sessions twice a month with my therapist but that’s not the way I cope best.
I am currently typing this in bed as I’m trying to avoid getting up. It is 2:13 pm and I haven’t found the motivation to start my day. It is a gloomy, rainy day so what about this makes me want to get out of bed? These are the days you want to just relax and watch movies. The struggle with anxiety is, this never seems to happen. Anxiety makes you think you should be doing more, that everything needs to be perfect. I can barely stay awake for longer than 30 minutes.
Growing up in chaos is the greatest gift I have ever received. But, when I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective disorder it surely did not feel like a gift. I thought my diagnosis would follow me everywhere I go and limit me in everything I do. Little did I know, my struggles with mental health would allow me to feel completely empowered.
Hello, my name is James and I want to voice my struggles and successes with others that are suffering from mental illness and developmental issues. Ever since I was little I knew something was off. I was always told throughout my life that I seemed like a calm person, however that was far from the truth. The wheels were always turning in my head. I was intrigued by the success stories on ADAA and reached out to share my story.
Mental illness is something that plagues Americans in each and every state within the country. Depression, anxiety and PTSD are silent killers. They may not cause physical death, but they do cause each and every individual affected by them to lose a piece of themselves. As an individual who struggles with depression as well as anxiety, I myself am on the battle field in this fight against mental illness.
When I booked my trip to Asia, I was 23, fresh out of college, and a 100% bundle of nerves. I had just learned about my relationship with mental health (I’ve got that delightful combo of Moderate Anxiety & Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and was working in sync with my therapist to manage it.
I was in the 10th grade when it happened. I was in school and I had a massive anxiety attack. But for me anxiety affects me differently and I ended up struggling in utter silence. My name is Kennedy and I have selective mutism.
It’s liberating to talk about my struggles with mental illness. That is now that I’ve come out on the other side. There was a time I hid my anxiety and depression because I was embarrassed and didn’t understand my emotions. I took solace in reading about others on the ADAA website — knowing I was not alone.
“Hello, my name is Trevor Clifford, I am a video producer with 10 years of experience in corporate and commercial content. In 2014 I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder.”
I write that first sentence in messages and emails every day, this essay is the first time it’s been followed by the second.
When I was a freshman in high school I had my first ever anxiety attack. I remember it was a Tuesday, right at the end of first period biology class. I faked sick that day, told my teacher I needed to go home. I had no idea what was going on or how to handle the way my body was acting. This happened to me the next day and then the same thing the next two days after that, until my mom suggested I see a doctor. They told me I had something called generalized social anxiety.
Becoming a scientist, having a doctoral degree had been my dream since I was a kid. I fought really hard, convinced my family that I would take up biotechnology as my majors in my Undergrad. They were little skeptical about my decision but on seeing how determined I was, they agreed. Back then, either becoming a doctor or Computer science engineer were the only career options we had in India. Studying biology in engineering was out of scope. But I did it.
Sufferer was formed from a desperate need to hear the anxious and depressive voices in my head, separately from within.
The thought spurred me to action, the first song fully written as soon as I picked up my guitar. After came an onslaught of ideas, and within a span of a few hours, I had a full song, parts for others, and the two basic concepts:
In 2014, my life was completely turned upside down. Everything I had known before was never to be again. I had been diagnosed with Lyme disease and began treatment immediately. During treatment, my entire life was changed. I had to move out unexpectedly, my relationships with those around me were deteriorating rapidly, and death surrounded me as I grieved loved ones. I felt as if my life was over and I had nothing to fight for.
I am writing to share a personal story of how a young man close to me suffered from mental illness and saw no other way out and took his own life. He was a well-respected member of the community and was passionate about many organizations, ADAA being one of them. It was his wish, in lieu of flowers that donations were dispersed among those organizations.
My name is Kellene Diana and I used to struggle with anxiety and depression. Nobody understood or wanted to understand; in fact they called me names and passed judgment before they even knew what I was going through. It made me so afraid to speak up and speak out about it that it completely silenced me for years.
I’ve been pretty much battling with anxiety and depression most of my life for various reasons. However, the reason I’ve realized that possibly made my mental health quite difficult to bare was the fact that my parents in the beginning weren’t all that supportive. I assumed because I was honest and upfront with them about my issues, it would be easier to overcome them. I definitely thought wrong.
More than 2000 years ago, the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “You cannot step into the same river twice.” But...would we be human if we didn’t try?
I designed my poster with the intent of showing that reaching happiness was possible; healing was possible. The bottom half of the poster represents the soul being trapped, surrounded by darker colors. I hoped to achieve what an individual might feel like facing a mental disorder alone. The luminescent light that surrounds the figure, represents when one is willing to take the first step in seeking the help they need.
Does this look like the face of someone who struggles with anxiety?
You never know what someone might be struggling with based on her or his appearance. Anxiety is a real issue that I fight to conquer every day. In the past, I hid behind my appearance to keep others from knowing about my war with anxiety on the inside. I no longer hide.
Depression and anxiety are widespread across the world. For too many, it is a difficult topic to talk about, and I know this first hand. When I was 15 and 16, I struggled with major depression and anxiety. It disrupted my school work, my athletics, and my friendships. It was embarrassing to talk about because of the stigma that is associated with the illness.
The project that we were participating in was called the "I Was Here Project" where we and our peers (7th graders) research a topic and prepare an intervention. Then, we later reflect on what we did in a movie we made in class.
This was one of our bake sales to raise money. And yes, we spelled depression wrong in this image, but we fixed it after.
TV HOST STRUGGLED WITH POSTPARTUM ANXIETY is not a headline you expect to read from your bubbly, toothy sportscaster. Maybe it’s not one you expect to ever hear from a man. Can be. Is.
I love kids. I used to be one. Everybody knows me knows this above all. I wanted to be a dad since I was 5. I’m a godfather to 6 right now, all girls!
Like many people, I deal with depression and anxiety. Some episodes are minor, while others are paralyzing. Throughout all this, I am always looking for opportunities to turn these struggles into something more positive. I found some of these opportunities to be through photography and the outdoors. Both allow me to explore a creative outlet that I love while disconnecting in nature.
We are a group of filmmakers at the American Film Institute. We are in the midst of fundraising a short film, “Count on Me,” which is the inspiring and emotional tale of Sam, a young boy with OCD trying to survive in a world that looks down on him for his disability.
National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day is April 2nd. International Talk Like A Pirate Day is September 19th. Ask a Stupid Question Day is September 28th, but there’s no such thing as a stupid question so maybe there’s no such thing as Stupid Question Day.
Hello everyone! My name is Matthew Woods, I’m 28, and I suffer from Panic Disorder. This disease once dominated my every waking moment with excessive false alarms that sent me to the emergency rooms more times than I can remember. Something as simple as a cramp would be misconstrued by my brain as a life-ending condition, sending me into a tailspin panic attack.
Why can’t you just be happy?
You know, you have it better than most people? You should be appreciative.
These are things I have heard since I was officially diagnosed with depression in 2000. It’s insane to think that in 2018, I still hear this from friends and family.
Last year, I shared my personal anxiety struggles with the world. I talked about the importance of self-love and acceptance. I wrote that I accepted where I was and what I had been through. Looking back, I was a little ahead of myself. Acceptance for me is truly a journey. Vital, but never-ending. Last May, I had 263 people reach out to me.
I was locked down in my dreary studio apartment one Saturday morning in Midtown, Sacramento. The curtains had all been drawn, and sunshine inevitably trespassed through the thick patterned glass of my steel door. What were once empty bottles and cans, had visually manifested themselves into hideous statues and mounted towers. Medicinal marijuana was recently delivered to my door, and containers of strains lay lifeless by a pack of half-empty cigarettes.
I never intended for depression or anxiety to be a part of my platform. When I was writing my EP I was speaking purely from my personal experiences, while writing it and speaking honestly I found a lot of what I had to say was about me not being ok in that particular time in my life.
My name is Bella, and I’m 10 years old. Last year I was diagnosed with OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A lot of people think OCD is just about having to keep things clean and organized, but that really isn’t the whole picture.
For the past 24 years of my life, I’ve been wearing a mask.
Not just any old flimsy mask, either. No, this is a true military grade bulletproof battle helmet, complete with a stainless steel cage, high-density foam padding, and some screws to hold it all together. It’s even custom molded to better protect, perform, and intimidate.
Anxiety is something that affects so many of us to varying degrees and is too often overlooked. When we wrote our track Nightmares in London with Scott Quinn the darker mood of the music made us explore this idea of anxiety and how it can feel suffocating. Scott had some great lyrics that really capture different effects that certain situations can have on people.
The weekend of October 31, 2014, I was hit hard with Panic Disorder. Panic attacks one after another, all weekend long. Even my throat "fell asleep". You know, that feeling when Novacaine is about to wear off. Before that, it was gradual. It all started while driving to Virginia for my Uncle's 50th birthday party. I never made it there.
5 months later - Well, it’s shocking to believe that it’s been 5 months. I feel like I am living in a completely different lifetime than I was just a few short months ago, but this loss also feels so painfully fresh.
3 months later - Wow, I can’t believe I am finally mustering up the strength to being writing about how things have been these past three months. We’ve made it through Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and our first two family vacations. All three were complete hell. My parents and I often talk about how the “firsts” will be some of the hardest, and that’s all there is right now. Everything seems so dampened by his loss.
March 25, 2017 – 6 weeks later: My name is Samantha Thornton. I've always had a passion for others so I decided to become an elementary school teacher to plant the seeds of a love for education into little hearts. I am currently a 5th grade content literacy teacher. I graduated from the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!) and I'm currently living in South East Florida.
My name is Abigail Hills and I am an illustration major at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. I was in a car accident, a few years ago, and suffered a hit to the head. Since then I have been dealing with varying degrees of anxiety and depression. At first I didn’t understand what was going on. All I knew was that I was constantly worrying about things that had never bothered me before, and sometimes I did not want to be around people, or do anything. I experienced ups an
I’ve been overwhelmed by anxiety for as long as I can remember.
I thought it was the normal way to be!
I’d be stuck in traffic, and these irritating voices would take my brain hostage “Did you leave the coffee on? The house will catch on fire, the neighbors will burn!”
Even though I knew the fears were unfounded, I found myself turning the car around again and again.
I decided to make an animated movie about it.
mindswimmer is an experimental jazz quintet committed to using our art to improve the world around us. We have each faced anxiety and depression, both personally and with those close to us. Unfortunately, one of our past collaborators and dearest friends took his own life when his burden became too great.
Laundry Should be the Only Thing Separated by Color
We are 6th graders from Orchard Hills Middle School in Irvine, California. Our names are Katie Vu, Jacey Hwang, Gia Patel and Ally Wong. Recently our CORE class has been involved in service learning, where we learn by helping others. Students in our class researched organizations that help to solve problems in our world in learning groups.
When I was about 22 years old, I had, what they call in Shakespearean studies, hubris. I had recently graduated from a competitive public high school, and had been accepted into the University of Chicago, undergraduate studies. Little did I know what was in store for me.
ADAA has partnered with Healthline.com to share China McCarney’s personal story of triumph “I Embrace My Anxiety, Because It’s Part of Me” with both of our communities.
My name is Zac Hersh, but I go by “Z.” I am a 23-year-old recent college graduate, certified personal trainer, yoga instructor, mindfulness and meditation coach, and an accomplished distance runner, and triathlete. I am also the co-creator of the Mood mobile app.
At 3 AM on a July 2012 morning, I lay helpless on an emergency room cot, unable to experience any emotion other than fear and the physical sensations that racked my body. My extreme levels of anxiety did not cease; my body showed me no mercy, perhaps because my racing mind did not extend that courtesy to my body. I was wrapped in a backless hospital gown and meagerly strewn blanket that had been nuked in a microwave to keep me warm.
Rivka Bennun is a fourteen year old freshman at Shulamith High School for Girls in Cedarhurst, NY. She loves to read in her free time and play piano. She had to research something to write about for a class research project but also wanted to research something she was familiar with, as she definitely feels stressed on a day-to-day basis. Her is what she wrote...
Research is no longer solely the province of the lab coat-wearing scientist. People diagnosed with mental illnesses, their family caregivers, healthcare providers, and social workers all can play a role in the research that affects the treatment of mental health.
I have battled more at the age of 25 than most humans do in a lifetime. Take a moment to think of the most dreadfully painful experience you have had – I can empathize with you. In my life, I have overcome two near death experiences. One at the age of 11 which left me in a coma, the other at 21 where I was fighting against a collapsed lung and losing a lot of blood. My suffering has not only been painful physically but mentally.
Stephanie generously shared her story and her struggle with anxiety and depression with the ADAA community last year (and has been very grateful for the support she received) and since then has been actively involved in helping raise awareness about the importance of speaking out and finding help.
"My name is Mariah Dellinger and I am a junior at Lake High School in Stark County Ohio. I am in a two year Health Tech Preparatory program with about 24 other students.
Mark Bermudez, an art student at Florida International University, reached out to ADAA a few months ago to let us know that he was working on a project for his Graphic Design III class where he would create a series of posters that explain how mental illnesses can affect people through the use of metaphor. His designs are all related to the different themes that represent ADAA’s outreach and educational efforts around anxiety, depression and related disorders.
I have lived with anxiety since 2009. I was 22 years old. My first panic attack occurred that year. About 45 minutes into a car drive I felt as if I was going to die. I could not breathe and had to pull the car off the road and walk for hours to try and catch my breath. That was my introduction to anxiety and I had no idea that I was about to embark on a back and forth journey for years to come.
Marisa Herrera-Keehn, Lance Rodriguez, Stephen Terry, and Bethany Martin created their senior thesis together - a short film called "Scarlett Garden" that tells the story about a girl named Scarlett who tries to help her brother out of his depression. When they receive the news about their stepfather not being able to recover from a liver disease, her brother turns to alcoholism and locks himself in his home for days at a time.
Erika is a distinguished scholar at the Grosse Ile Middle School in Michigan. For my 7th grade year here at the middle school, I chose to research about anxiety because some of my friends have it and I wanted to try and help them out. I have only been researching about it for a few months and I already know so much about it!
When I last sat down to reflect on my journey with anxiety I was nervous, timid, and YES even a little ANXIOUS. I wanted to share my story with the “right” spin or the “right” perspective. I gave just enough details to get the point across and deflect the focus away from me and my “issues”. This is what came out.
I was in seventh grade when I discovered I had anxiety. I didn't go to school for 2 months because every day my mom would take me, and I would end up on the floor of the car sobbing and hyperventilating. I was a sophomore in high school when I was diagnosed with depression. I skipped class a lot, I would cry over everything, and I would never leave the house.
PTSD is an invisible monster. It disguises reality. When I was sucked into what I learned to call the trauma vortex, I often couldn’t distinguish between what was real and what wasn’t. I thought I was going crazy.
Generalized anxiety disorder can be hard to recognize because you may not think of yourself as worried or anxious. But if you are having physical pain, or waking up in the night, or sensitive to sounds, or overthinking things, you may have GAD. That's what happened to me.
For most of my life I’ve struggled with social anxiety disorder, along with generalized anxiety disorder, OCD, and depression. During the worst of it, I was on strong medication and medical disability benefits due to my fear of job interviews. I would feel uncomfortable or awkward in public 90 percent of the time.
I wish my breakthrough moment wasn’t when I thought "I'd pay good money if I could feel better." I am cheap, so the path became clearer once cost was no longer a concern. After I decided to get help for my depression, one challenge was telling a receptionist why I wanted therapy. I had never told anyone I felt depressed.
Depression can affect anyone — men, women, and children — at any point in their lives. And its debilitating effects show up in many different ways. Doug Duncan tells us how depression changed his life.
What can we do to prosper when facing pain and suffering in our lives?
Ever wonder what depression feels like? Here’s a hint: Take a pillowcase full of rocks and strap it to the top of your head. Now put on a dark pair of sunglasses — indoors. Leave those things on for about a week. Until you begin to see the world through a dark film that never gets lighter, and it takes a very conscious effort to hold your head up. That is what depression feels like on a good day.
I am a world champion of trampoline gymnastics, and I have suffered from anxiety for many years. Having anxiety is like having diabetes or asthma: They are all illnesses. But in 20 years as a trampolinist, I have yet to see someone yelled at for having diabetes or asthma.
There was a time when basic things—like driving, climbing a flight of stairs, taking a shower, or going through the checkout line at the grocery store—landed me somewhere between mortal unease and full-throttle terror. It all began with a single panic attack that seemed to strike out of the blue. Mistaking it for a heart attack, I called an ambulance, but I quickly learned that there is no ambulance for an alarm of the mind.
My earliest childhood memories are of constant fear. A skinny kid with crooked teeth, somewhat shy and reserved with social anxiety, I was an easy target for bullies, which made my issues even more difficult to handle. I never spoke to anyone about my feelings because I felt they were my fault.
If anyone had told me several years ago that everything would get better, I would have nodded while screaming disbelief inside my head. I thought things simply could not get better, that I'd be forever feel imprisoned in a dark room.
Childhood anxiety, even severe and chronic, doesn’t necessarily stand in the way of success and achievement. But caring parents will do anything to help relieve their children of misery. Scott Stossel, the editor of The Atlantic magazine, tells his story of struggling, coping, and living a very productive life.
“I’m back!” That was the phrase I’d said to myself starting in middle school when my malaise lifted and a cycle of joy came around. I seemed to live in a world moving in slow motion. It was only when “I was back” that I returned to normal life speed. This slow-to-normal oscillation went on well into my thirties. But I had no idea I was depressed.
A lot of things scare me. Right now, those things include my first 20-mile run of marathon training that I have this weekend and sharing this post. That’s the thing with fears, though. Embracing them usually makes you stronger.
I have learned that anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand, and there is no shame in having either — although it’s tough for many people to get their arms around that concept. When I struggled with both in my last couple years as the Texas Rangers’ baseball play-by-play announcer, the few people in whom I confided expressed genuine shock. “Depressed? About what? You’ve got a great job! Legions of adoring fans! A wonderful family!
Back in 2006, I had it all: A loving fiancé, a coveted publishing job, a supportive network of friends and family. I was living in Washington, D.C., where I went out almost every night to press parties and trendy restaurants. In my spare time, I delivered meals on wheels and counseled Alzheimer’s patients at the local senior center. Perfectionistic and ever so vigilant, I could’ve won the Perfect Life Olympics.
My descent into GAD (generalized anxiety disorder) began the morning I received the call bringing the news of my mother's accidental death. It was the same week that my husband was laid off. We had moved across the country for his new job, and eight months later he was laid off. After only two months out West, we moved back, and I had a nervous breakdown.
I had my first experience with severe long-term depression at age 23 when a series of events converged simultaneously. I couldn't sleep, and my lack of appetite had me losing such a significant amount of weight that I feared I would end up in the hospital. I forced myself to eat and eventually gained back the weight, and later an appetite. Being on my own at this age in the late 1980s with limited knowledge of depression, I wouldn't realize what was happening to me until years later.
I’m 21 years old, and besides my busy schedule as a full-time student the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, keeping a regular running and yoga schedule, work, and trying to balance a social life, I am also the founder and Executive Director of Anxiety In Teens Non-Profit, LLC.
I've suffered from generalized anxiety disorder, or GAD, coupled with panic attacks for more than two decades.
My first major attack struck during a bathroom break in the 7th grade. As I fought waves of nausea and shaky confusion, I feared I was the same as my bipolar father.
My son Dan was in college, and by the time I arrived at his dorm, he had not eaten in more than a week. He was spending hours at a time sitting in one particular chair, hunched over with his head in his hands, doing absolutely nothing. He could not enter most of the buildings on campus and could only do minimal amounts of work at specific times. To top it all off, he was self-injuring.
The anxiety and shame started when Diance was 25. She was sitting in a pew at her church, where she is active in the ministry. It seemed to come out of nowhere. She felt as if she were going to jump out of her skin.
Diance doesn’t know why she felt so anxious. But she knows what she saw when the feeling overwhelmed her: a nearby woman wearing a v-neck sweater.
"Books, pencils, pens; books, pencils, pens." This was my mantra at age 8, when I started my battl
It started at the onset of puberty, when I was 11 years old. I was at school, watching my older sister load the school bus to be taken away to 6th-grade camp. Suddenly a wave of panic overcame me. I don't recall my physical symptoms other than a racing heart and nausea.
An excellent student, a talented singer and musician, a competitive athlete. That’s how I appeared on the outside as a young child, but I felt as though I were trapped in a nightmare that would never end. Years later, and after a lot of hard work, my bad dream is finally over.
As a child, I was gregarious, outgoing, and happy-go-lucky. Then something went horribly askew at about age 12. I did not know why I was unable to focus when I had been the best reader in school. I had been talkative, but I kept to myself, remained silent, and let bullies pick on me. I hadn't the slightest idea what was going on with my body and mind. Eighth-grade was probably my worst year because I was taunted, harassed, and bullied.
Looking back, I recall first experiencing a panic attack in the sixth grade. I remember getting so nervous that I would have to leave class and go to the counselor’s office. Until I was 16, I was in and out of psychiatrists’ offices. It was a challenge to find a psychiatrist that I could connect with. Throughout junior high and high school, I still experienced anxiety and panic attacks. And when I started college, my anxiety and panic attacks intensified.
My 5-year old boy has a cherub's face with a hint of mischief in his beautiful green eyes. Brian dances to silly music and entertains us with his antics. He tells his brother to leave him alone and he teases his sister while she does her homework. The only difference between Brian and most other children is that while he is at school, he is mute.
Many people know Ricky Williams as the Heisman Trophy-winning running back who had it all — fame, money, and talent. Selected as the fifth NFL draft pick out of college, he became a celebrity overnight. With a successful career underway, who would believe that this football sensation who played for crowds of 100,000 dreaded the thought of going to the grocery store or meeting a fan on the street?
The summer before my senior year in college, my mother died of lung cancer at the age of 57. I dealt with my loss privately, as I had handled most of my problems throughout adolescence: I repressed my grief and kept moving. I avoided talking about my mother's death and I continued my college work and social schedule as if nothing had happened.
After more than 20 years of not going to a grocery store, restaurant, or public place alone, not driving out of my safe area and not attending school functions for my children, I began my difficult recovery from panic disorder, agoraphobia, and social anxiety disorder.
An evening spent playing bridge with other couples was always fun for Rita, but one time it became a nightmare. Dealing the cards, first her hands began to tremble, and then her body shook uncontrollably. Terrified, she ran to the bathroom where she fell to the floor crying. She didn’t understand what was happening to her, so she told her husband she was ill and needed to go home.
My name is Jordan. I am 11 years old.
About one year ago, I began experiencing a feeling of terror and panic during everyday situations. I was scared of everything, from going out to eat to going to a friend’s house. I told my parents, and we thought it might just be that a lot was going on. So we waited. As months went on, the anxiety and panicking didn’t get any better, and everything started to go downhill. I sort of figured I was going to be like this forever.
“Hi! I'm Jack. And I have an anxiety disorder.”
Merely talking to other people makes me anxious. I often experience "phone fear." I avoid social gatherings (particularly parties), which I find excruciating. Crowded settings, especially without a perceptible escape route, cause me uneasiness, sometimes panic.
My experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) began in the summer I was seven years old. My father was planning a vacation to Florida with his girlfriend, my five-year-old brother, and me. I was so excited about seeing the beach and feeling real sand for the first time.
I had all the typical life stressors of a married working mom. One spring I had a birth control device implanted that apparently threw my hormones and mental well-being out of whack. I switched to part-time work that summer because it allowed for a bit more rest and less stress. But when I returned to work full-time in the fall, I began having odd flashes of fear. And when people around me felt sick, I did, too.
I have suffered from social anxiety disorder since I was about 10 years old, or about 34 years. I was a very intelligent child, but when teachers noticed a difference in me, I started trying to be invisible. Social situations, including school, were torture. I bulldozed my way through life, including dabbling in alcohol and substance abuse for relief of my anxiety and depression. I find it very interesting that the disorder is marked by a morbid fear of authority figures. And here I thought I was just being a rebel!
It is a continuous challenge living with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and I've suffered from it for most of my life. I can look back now and gently laugh at all the people who thought I had the perfect life. I was young, beautiful, and talented, but unbeknownst to them, I was terrorized by an undiagnosed debilitating mental illness.
I am a middle-aged woman, married with two children. I was diagnosed with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at age 25. I am grateful to say that I have had tremendous support, terrific professional help, a strong will to recover, and a resolve to do whatever work necessary to overcome all of my trauma. Other miraculous help has been my spiritual beliefs and practices.
Looking back, I can see that I had symptoms of an anxiety disorder even as a small child. I remember going for weeks at a time waking up, unable to go back to sleep. Then, as if by magic, I would go back to sleeping normally.
Fear is an unseen enemy that can emotionally cripple and turn your life into a nightmare unless you learn, as I did, how to stage your own “anxiety rescue.”
Two years ago I wondered if the horrible feeling, the gnawing in my stomach would ever leave. Inside my freshman dorm room, I lived in my own mind, fixated on my thoughts and tormented by irrational messages and faulty fears.
My struggles with emotional and mental problems began at age 12, when I experienced my first nervous breakdown. At age 20 I was diagnosed with major depression. By the time I was 30 that diagnosis had changed to chronic major depression with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). Later, ADHD and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) were added to my diagnoses. At age 40, and after three suicide attempts within two years, my therapist began to suspect that I suffered from bipolar disorder.