What's thrown me more than anything in the past eighteen months or so is the anxiety I've been experiencing. Depression, to a degree, is familiar - almost like the Simon and Garfunkel lyric "hello darkness my old friend" - even though it has been the worst I've experienced since my early 20's.

The anxiety, however, is new, different, unexpected. It mainly manifests when in busy, crowded environments with a feeling I can only liken to claustrophobia. When it strikes (which is not predictable) I feel I just need to get away from where I am, retreat to somewhere quieter.

It can be overwhelming and takes everything I have not to flee so, if possible, I'll put on my headphones and retire inward, sheltered by the music. It doesn't have to be loud or block out the sounds around me, just enough to focus on and create a bubble with.

I've always been an introvert, oft uneasy in unfamiliar company and surroundings, but never experienced this type of feeling before and I wonder why it should happen now. Is it linked to the severity of the depression or is there another trigger?

If so, what?

    1. Colin Walker says: #
      Actually yes, a couple of times and it’s been fine. My physical/medical issue is the B12 deficiency which is known to cause depression, memory loss and some behavioural changes but I’ve never seen it specifically linked to anxiety.
  1. canion says: #
    @colinwalker I’m challenged by this as well. Having to attend the Perth Royal Show this year I particularly noticed it – an increasing heartbeat and the feeling of being compressed from all sides. I used to fight it; now I accept it and listen to what my mind/body needs and worry less about negative judgement if I decide to step away.
  2. Ron says: #
    @colinwalker I grew up with a lot of anxiety. I don’t think it’s related to depression. It might help for you to read what Dave Winer wrote about one of his mottos. I found it to be quite brilliant, the brilliance actually coming from Fritz Perls. In short, don’t sit in the anxiety, get into action, break through the fear and actually do the thing that has you frozen!

    The key line in one of Dylan’s greatest songs, Angelina, is “Just step into the arena.” Dylan should know, he’s been doing that his whole career, stepping into the arena, the places others have been afraid to go. You never ever read about Dylan suffering from anxiety. He’s just always going down the road, heading for another joint on his never-ending tour.

    I wish you well, Colin.

  3. colinwalker says: #
    @Ron Thanks Ron, I appreciate it and also the references. It’s definitely something I have to deal with/confront but there is the frustration of not knowing why it started.

    It’s a process and it will take time.

  4. bix says: #
    @Ron That advice, for some people, would be terrible advice. If anxiety really is impacting someone’s life, they should try to speak to a mental health practitioner (not possible for everyone, to be sure) and find what works for them. Neither “do the thing that has you frozen” nor “just step into the arena”, for example, would work for the anxiety issues related to my autism. I’m sure it works for some, but people should be mindful about what paths to take, and not take, for themselves.
  5. vasta says: #
    @colinwalker Hey Colin — as someone who has bipolar disorder and a comorbidity with acute anxiety, I’m sending lots of strength and wishes for reslience your way. It really is a very, very different thing (symptomatically) from depression, but it’s important to remember that it may be—despite what some people have responded to you—a comorbidity, and that there is a relationship between your anxiety and depression. (I think many people hear the word anxiety and think of being anxious, without realizing that anxiety is an actual diagnosis with defined physical symptoms.) If you do actually have clinical anxiety, the likelihood that it is linked to your depression is quite high, and it’s worth chatting with your mental health practitioner to help tease out what that relationship and linking may be. In the meantime, stay strong. Sending good wishes for resilience and an ease of symptoms.
  6. fgtech says: #
    @bix I am coming to realize through your writing and now exchanges with @colinwalker something that I think even many physicians don’t realize. We all experience anxiety. The techniques most people can use to cope with it don’t work for someone with an Anxiety diagnosis.
  7. fgtech says: #
    @bix @colinwalker The same can be said for depression, stress, and burnout. If you have Depression or Stress or Burnout, it’s not necessarily something you can Just Breathe or Just Rest your way through. Not many people understand why medical help may be needed to recover.
  8. fgtech says: #
    @vasta Thank you for chiming in your experience as well. All of this is giving me a much deeper understanding of people I know. Brains are complicated.
  9. dgold says: #
    @colinwalker hey Colin, popped back onto m.b. to send you a comment on this.

    What you’re experiencing is absolutely on par with myself. I’ve had clinical depression for years, but since 2015 it’s been “upped” with General Anxiety Disorder as well. I wrote a little bit about My Panic Attack back in 2016. With correct medication, and lots of therapy, I’ve managed to not have one in about a year.

    That doesn’t, unfortunately, stop what my therapist and I call despair attacks, something I’ve never had to deal with before, but leave me every bit as destroyed as a panic attack.

    I hope you get all the help you need to get you through all of this, but you absolutely are not alone. Sadly, even those of us long in the tooth of mental health issues find new and “exciting” ways to make things harder.

  10. colinwalker says: #
    @vasta Thanks Sameer. Indeed, I do wonder if the severity of the depression this time round is very much a causal factor. I am planning a return to the doctor soon (mental health practitioner is a bit of an overstatement) and am going to explore a couple of other avenues.
  11. strandlines says: #
    @colinwalker I think @vasta is right – this could easily be comorbidity with depression. Everything I have read indicates that anxiety and depression are commonly bedfellows – either anxiety causing depression (this best describes my situation), or vice versa.

    In fact, I was reading an article last night regarding research into how symptoms shared by both anxiety and depression could be ‘gateway’ symptoms from one condition to the other. Sadly can’t find the article now.

    Clinical anxiety can be as crippling as depression, as I have found. I hope you find the help you need – NHS Talking therapies is worth a try. Your GP should refer you, but you can also self refer.

  12. bix says: #
    @strandlines Depression comorbidity remains the open question on my end. As far as my original diagnosing therapist got, while I was imploding due to an attempt at Vocational Rehabilitation, was that I definitely was experiencing “depressive episodes”, but we never really got to follow that thread because VocRehab only paid for 7 sessions. @colinwalker @vasta
  13. Ron says: #
    @colinwalker Yes, you will need to sort through what is happening. You have certainly gotten a variety of advice to consider. I hope you will find a path that works well for you!
  14. Ron says: #
    @bix What I wrote was freely given, in hope that it “might help” him. Of course he will have to evaluate that for himself and find out what works for him. It was certainly not my intention to offer anything that might be terrible advice.

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