You're doing the right thing by reaching out. One of the big mistakes people make when they are struggling is to think they are the only ones going through it. When you talk to others, you will find out many people struggle with similar things.
If it helps, I'll tell you a little bit of my story (and I really apologize for the length).
I've struggled on and off with depression and anxiety my entire life and it runs in my family. However, I've had many more good days then I have had bad days.
I found a good anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medication that worked pretty well for me (I had to do a lot of public speaking and started having panic attacks several years ago, which then spread over into social situations). I had a wonderful therapist who helped me overcome quite a few difficulties and also gave me the courage to move to NYC. Sadly, he suffered a major heart attack and died shortly after I moved here.
Things were good for the first six months here, but then I got laid off on July 1, 2008. I had an idea it was coming, but I was assured that they were looking for a different position for me and it wouldn't be likely. However, I found out during a conference call staff meeting that it was my last staff meeting and that I'd be leaving at the end of June.
I lost my health insurance and had to quit taking the medication, which caused withdrawal. The medication was over $180 per month and COBRA would cost almost $500 a month.
So.....I was depressed, anxious, and unemployed. There were times when I'd have panic attacks on the subway and I avoided most social situations.
At the same time, I decided it was not going to get the better of me.
I couldn't afford my gym membership, so I froze it and went jogging about six days a week. I also started walking all over New York and began taking pictures as a hobby.
Things started to look up, and then my boyfriend had to go into the hospital for an emergency appendectomy. At the same time, we found out my dad had a large malignant tumor in his stomach that needed to be removed. After taking care of my boyfriend for a couple of weeks (during and after surgery), I flew home for a month to help my family. My mom has a low thyroid, which causes her to be tired and depressed and it would have been too much for her. My dad was scared to spend the first night alone in the hospital and really needed me there.
Being at the hospital and around sick people made me feel even more depressed and anxious. There were days I didn't want to get out of bed and I thought I would lose it if I spent any more time at the hospital...but there were too many people counting on me. I got a cheap anti-depressant from the doctor, which gave me a massive headache for two weeks till I quit taking it (and after a trip to urgent care). I slept very little and was exhausted every day.
During this time, I also had to be around the person who sexually abused me as a child. I hadn't been around this person for years and I was really nervous the day I had to see him - I almost threw up in fact. (I was also physically and emotionally abused in childhood - which led to abusive relationships as an adult).
On Christmas day, my mom and I went to Blockbuster and rented movies. I had never seen Schindler's List and decided to watch it that night. I haven't cried that hard at a movie in a long time....but it put everything in perspective for me.
The next day, I got on the world's smallest plane (it seated 19 and had no bathroom), flew to my layover, and flew back to NYC with a renewed commitment to make things better.
I had a wonderful after-Christmas with my boyfriend and one of the best New Year's Eve ever.
I had been doing part-time work from home and got another contract that will allow me to go off of unemployment. I just met with another person to possibly do some paid grant-writing for a theater company. I got asked to be on a board of directors and had my first meeting, which was very rewarding.
On Saturday, I entered three of my photographs in an art show here in New York with my boyfriend and his best friend (I'll find out Friday if I was accepted).
I took my gym membership off of freeze and have been working out six days a week, and really enjoying my workouts. I've also been sleeping a lot better, too. I'm working to improve my eating habits and to shed a few pounds.
I've been doing more things with more people, and I won't let myself avoid social situations. I just deal with it.
I think the thing that helped me the most is that I didn't give myself an "out" when I wanted to avoid something difficult. I faced it and each time I faced it I realized I was stronger than I thought. I also put my difficulties in perspective and found they weren't as bad as I was making them out to be. One thing I told my boyfriend is that I wish I had enjoyed my unemployed more (it was the first time I'd been laid off and the longest I was involuntarily unemployed).
One of the things I've heard from people in recovery is the saying, "Fake it till you make it." I started using that philosophy and pushing myself to do stuff I wouldn't normally do...and I found I was happier and more confident when I did these things. I don't think people had any idea I was panicking on the inside and was fighting urges to bolt out of the room. The more I faked it, the more real it became.
So, take it for what it's worth. Many people are struggling these days and there's nothing wrong with it. My happy times are so much better because of the difficult times I've had. I don't think I take anything for granted anymore. Life, for me, is truly gift.
Wow....I can't believe I just shared all of that!