I have documented my struggles with mental health on this blog before. Considering the focus of the media on the mental health of famous people these days, I decided to write a longer rant about my own struggles.
During my college days I was a happy-go-lucky kind of guy. Although I did get depressed once in a while, I was never-ever worried about things. After college, while working a job I didn’t like, I also went through bouts of depression, but got over it quickly once I found a better job.
My second job was the best job, mentally, of my career. I had friends at work, I enjoyed what I was doing and I never even thought about work outside office. It was a shift-job where you could switch off completely after work.
It was in 2012 that I realized something was wrong. I suffered from IBS for almost 2 years. During this time I also turned lactose intolerant. I did read about the close connection between the gut and the brain, but I couldn’t figure out which affected which. After 2 years, I suddenly got better and didn’t think about it again.
Things started to go south again around 2016-17, when I wasn’t able to handle non-stresses from my work. I would lay awake at night thinking about trivial things from work, lost weight rapidly and couldn’t concentrate on non-work things. I tried things like meditation and mindfulness but nothing helped much. The mind just won’t stop racing and over-thinking.
This was the first time I decided to go see a shrink, at a hospital. I was hoping for a quick solution to all my troubles, but she prescribed me with very-expensive counselling sessions. The cost of the sessions made my issues worse, so I never went back. Thankfully, the shrink did give me a diagnosis, that of Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Eventually, this phase also passed and I forgot all about it.
I switched jobs again in 2020 and this time anxiety came back to attack me with a vengeance. It was clear that this time it was worse than before. It was so bad that I couldn’t sleep for more than 3 hours for a week straight. Sleeping aids didn’t help either.
Eventually, I decided to go to another shrink. This one was in a busy market popular with people I knew. I was ashamed to go see him. This doctor also confirmed the diagnosis of GAD and decided to prescribe me medications immediately. Within a few days, I was feeling much better. Although anxiety never went away completely, it is now quite under control, thankfully, to this day.
What I do
I use the following techniques to keep my anxiety under control
- Medication, which I am slowly weaning myself off of.
- Exercise – Even a short run helps a lot. Even walking is better than nothing.
- Listen to music I love everyday, without fail.
- Writing (Blogging)
- Whenever I have too many thoughts at night, I write them on a piece of paper before I go to bed. Next day I action all the items on that piece of paper and then tear it away. I found this strangely therapeutic.
- Stay as far away from Social Networks as possible.
I know many people have found relief with mindfulness, but for me it tended to make things worse. Maybe I was not using the tool correctly.
On the news, I repeatedly hear stories about the struggle of famous people with mental health, especially sportspersons. Although I am happy that they are raising more awareness for mental health, the impact of mental illnesses on them is much different than it is on regular people like us.
For them, quitting means an outpouring of support and being called “brave”. For people like me, quitting would mean being called a failure, losing my house and not being able to feed my family. So no, I don’t think these sportspersons are brave for quitting. They quit because they are filthy rich & can afford to.
Not everyone can.