Anxiety Depression

Anxiety/Depression

Something bad is going to happen to me! I can feel it. Up to that point, I didn’t realize how much of my character and spirit had been tarnished by the anticipation of disappointment. I became used to suppressing my feelings, thinking that I was STRONG! It was only a defense mechanism used to as a survival tactic to get through a rough childhood. But at this point and time, I was 27 years old with 3 children of my own. This was a different type of pressure. There was much more at stake. These feelings of apprehension were the beginning of the most difficult battle that I would ever face in my life up to that point .Yet it was also the greatest lesson through adversity that would allow me to do some serious self evaluating and soul searching, in order to get a taste of contentment and happiness. The battle was Anxiety/Depression. At the time I simply thought I was going crazy. There are always going to be stressors in life that we are going to face, such as relationships, work, or finances .I was usually able to say a prayer, think positive and keep pushing. But this time something was different. I just couldn't shake this dark feeling. Everything negative was magnified times ten. My blood pressure started to become slightly higher than usual. My heart would race for no apparent reason. My muscles would jump and become tight. I felt scared and nervous for no reason at all. I couldn’t sleep. Even my acid reflux started to appear as If it could be some sort of life threatening disease. I was concerned about my GERD symptoms being a result of something more serious. Then, one trip to the E.R changed  my life. The doctor checked me, and assured me that everything was fine .Then, he looked me in my dilated pupils, and said " I think you should seek counseling for anxiety and depression "and provided me with some phone numbers. This was foreign to me. No one had ever put my name in the same sentence as those two words. I was Mr. Strong . The young man who survived being a child of the crack epidemic . The kid who graduated college even though his circumstances would suggest he just be a petty criminal or drug dealer . Incarcerated father, drug addicted mother, all of these things meant nothing now. I needed help. My mind and body were so out of synch that I did not even realize that I was no longer myself . I had started to confuse the feelings of panic and anxiety with an actual physical illness. I didn’t know that long periods of extreme unhappiness or stress could result in the physical symptoms of anxiety. I spent my whole life trying to dig myself out of a hole. A hole that I perceived to be real, that was created by my dysfunctional upbringing. I lived in so much fear of failure and disappointment that I ignored my gifts, passions, and the simple things that brought me joy. I climbed up mountains to graduate from college, chasing a sense of security and stability. All while ignoring the fact that adversity was something that I became extremely fearful of. I was a prisoner of my own mind. Then came the knockout punch. It was my first year as a fulltime teacher. I was excited about working in my hometown of Jersey City, New Jersey. My 7th grade students were tough but I knew I could help bring some change to them .After about one month on the job, I started to realize that not everyone was as motivated, or even cared as much as myself . I found myself feeling alone , overworked , and being more of a correctional officer than a teacher . My creative gifts were not being manifested through teaching. The bureaucracy outweighed the positive impact. I would literally come to work every day and have to fight with students to try and get them to learn. The amount of paperwork that was related to tracking data left little to no time to worry about anything other than the job. When was I suppose to teach? I guess after I ignored my 3 children at home and used that time to sit at a laptop for 4 hours. But hey, who said teaching would be easy ? This is what I wanted, right? I started to realize that for my situation and personal goals in life, teaching was not the career for me. This went on for three months straight every day. I was very stressed about the fact that I know longer had control of my life. The teaching profession owned my personal life. I couldn't help my own kids with homework. I was always angry. I would catch myself telling my son and daughters to raise their hand at home before speaking. I didn't like who I was becoming.Teaching was not the sole cause of my problem, but the final straw to a situation that was bound to happen. It was so ironic. The moment that I thought I reached a professional peak in life, my mental health started to spiral downwards. I started some therapy sessions in order to get a better understanding of my condition. I read books and did an abundance of research. I was offered medication ( Zoloft) but decided not to take it. I started to look at the underlying causes of my unhappiness. It made no sense to fight these physical symptoms because the more a person fights a panic attack, the more it sticks around. Though the anxiety put me through hell, it also taught me so much. I realized that in life you have to live in the moment. Let things go. Choose your battles wisely. I was able to reassert myself in regards to my artistic expression as a writer and musician. As time went on the symptoms started to fade slightly. There were more good days than bad days. I focused on centering my mind and being productive as opposed to submerging into my condition. Ignore the negative thoughts and tingly annoyances that plagued my body. I made the very difficult decision to resign from my full time teaching position. It was the beginning of a fresh start. It took me 28 years but I finally figured this thing called life out. Be free! Use your God given gifts to create the life that you envisioned for yourself. Do not do anything that will make you unhappy to the point of being miserable. For some, life is about prestige and money. For me it’s about serving my purpose and living an anti- anxiety life through love, laughter, and creativity. Though my Anxiety/Depression is not completely gone, I am leading a much happier and healthier life due to understanding my condition, and not letting it control me. I hope and pray that someone can read this and be inspired. Mental Health is important! God Bless.