Dealing with depressions, anxiety, and panic

Hi, my name is Horst and I have depressions and previously also anxiety and panic attacks. In this post I want to write a little bit about my condition and how I’m dealing with it in order to perhaps show others having similar problems that they are not alone.

It all started for me in early 2017 when I met someone, fell in love, and all of a sudden my whole life was turned upside down with just too many new experiences to count and my mind and body to handle. Physically, I had been going through a rather strict diet for a couple of years and I’ve been getting less and less sleep due to my “Getting a life”-goal for 2017. That all brought my body to its limit. Mentally, I had been close to work-related burnout so all these new triggers and feeling pushed me over the edge. I fell into a deep depression because I was afraid of losing myself and not being able to handle it all.

My mind was beginning to find enemies I could blame for my condition and started to categorise everything and everyone new around me as bad. This went pretty far and I went down some rather deep rabbit holes. Luckily, though, I had some help. The hospital in Graz (which is also one of the largest in Europe) has an ambulatory care centre for psychological emergencies. Five minutes after arriving there I was already in a room with a doctor and could openly talk to her for nearly an hour before I was finally done with my story.

This is also the first and probably most important thing I’ve learnt about my condition: Talking openly with others and esp. with people not being a directly affected party (family, friends, loved ones…) helps a lot.

Going to the hospital and that first contact with a doctor was extremely important for allowing myself to finally recognise that something was off about my thinking. Sadly, though, I overestimated what one visit could achieve here. Before it eventually got better, I had all of the things below:

  • Short-term memory loss esp. emotions I felt at certain times
  • Complete paralysis (lasting a couple of hours)
  • Something that I can now only describe as “white noise” (complete panic with all senses being drowned by something that can probably be best compared to an extremely loud and high-pitched sound)
  • Barely controllable tremors usually triggered by a bad memory or feeling

Luckily, I still knew that all of that wasn’t me and so I made another important decision: I went to consult a psycho-therapist and a psychiatrist to learn how to deal with all of that. Slowly but steadily my health improved (with some relapses but still) and I learnt a couple of tricks along the way:

  • I learnt to laugh openly without caring what other people think. Laughing is pretty much the arch-enemy of bad thoughts and depressions and I try to use it as much and intensely as possible.
  • I learnt to recognise the beauty all around me and even the smallest signs of joy in my life. One example for this is that I’m automatically happy whenever I see a squirrel in the morning. Not much can make such a day bad again.
  • Place that had become dark for me (since I had a panic attack there, for instance) can be reprogrammed again. I can finally go to our local running-sushi restaurant without fear and actually really enjoy it now! In case you haven’t watched Pixar’s Inside Out, this is something that is described there in detail.

These have helped me move past my initial panic- and anxiety attacks which means that I’m now at a point where I only have “depressions” left on my list. They still visit me nearly every day but at least under control (Nothing a squirrel can’t fix!). My primary goal for this year is getting closer to being my former self and also ideally be med-free again.

I really want to thank my girlfriend, friends, family, therapists, and doctors who’ve helped me so much over the course of the last 11 months. Keeping it together was and still is never easy, but with their help I have hope and I’ve discovered how much joy there already is in my life. Thank you!

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