What do you do when you have experienced debilitating anxiety and bouts of depression? The secret is to treat it as if it’s a physical illness. Take it seriously, and resolve that no matter what you have to do to get through it, you can still be successful at work.
I made a promise to myself years ago that I was going to find happiness. As cliche as it is (who doesn’t want to be happy?), I knew that it was not going to be an easy hill to conquer. I’ve battled with depression for as long as I can remember. I go for months feeling confident and secure with my place in the world, and then something will happen and it will trigger a downward spiral. Getting out of bed is an accomplishment.
Having a conversation is exhausting. Everything makes you sad. But the world keeps spinning and I have to keep moving. I have a job, familial responsibilities, and friends. I have bills to pay, and emails to answer, and phone calls to make. I have to keep moving. I had to learn how to keep fighting for happiness while still maintaining the status quo at work. The best piece of advice I can give you is to recognize triggers that send you spiraling, and identify tools that help you climb back up.
For me, I set small goals. I know that running, writing, sleep, and music are some of my tools. So when I’m in a rut, I wake up early and run before work. That’s my time to be with my thoughts before I put them away and focus on my job. I write in a journal once a week at a wine bar near my apartment. I disappear into the pages of my book and don’t look at my phone. I find music that soothes my anxiety and I play it every chance I get—on the subway, in the shower, before bed. And I sleep. I let my dreams capture my anxieties and depression and then I write them down.
I also go to therapy once a week. I go in the morning before work and spend 45 minutes talking about all the things I’ve kept locked up during the week when I have my job face on. Therapy is not for everyone, but in conjunction with all the other tools I’ve developed it most certainly has helped me cope and made me a stronger person.