I took several steps to recover from anxiety and depression. But the moment I realized the severity of it all, I was sixteen years old. One night I had stripped down to take a shower, and before stepping in, I saw a profile of my body; I had always been a thin kid, but horror and shame crossed me when I noticed a bloated gut hanging out past my chest.
I remembered how just a few weeks before, I had bought larger pants as the old ones became too small for my growing frame.
The rest of that night, I was consumed by that sight because it wasn’t merely a matter of how out-of-shape I had gotten, but everything else that had led me to that point.
I remember initially becoming very unhappy as a kid around the age of eleven or twelve and slowly falling deeper into that void as I got older.
Toward the end of my sophomore year of high school, I can remember the constant breakdowns; every day, multiple times.
During that period of my life, I began to have serious thoughts of suicide, and it’s a fact that I have only disclosed with one other person before; that fact now goes public.
Several months later, I was still miserable, but now I looked upon an unfit, unkempt body and lived within a mind of clouds and smoke; a moment of clarity in my mind was a moment of relief.
My life was not where it should have been.
I was becoming fat, had no friends, I was horribly awkward (still am to this day to an extent), I had no job, I hadn’t gotten my driver’s license, I was performing poorly in school, I had no energy or motivation.
The only thing I had was hope.
- Hope that one day I would have the will to do something with myself.
- Hope that one day I could work hard and leave my fingerprints on the world.
- Hope that one day I could look back and be so proud of what I had accomplished.
Today I’m alive because I had hope for this future, and I’ll be damned if anyone is going to stop me from achieving that.
That day I looked in the mirror was two years ago, and since that time, I have seen myself develop more and more into the person I have always dreamed of becoming, and this was the journey to that change.
Start of my steps to recover from anxiety and depression
This was shortly after the mirror incident, and I was still deeply depressed, but certain habits finally lit a spark that I would command over the next two years into massive growth.
The habits? Avoiding sugar and walking. It may sound like a cliché to claim these things will cure your issues and I’m not claiming that they will, but what it taught me is that simple things that are overlooked can be the groundwork to build up to something great.
I have always had a sweet tooth, and my depression made me cope quite often with sugary sweets, and my lack of a social or work life meant I was living a very sedentary lifestyle.
With a focus on practicing these two things, I began to notice some energy at last within me, and when I finally felt it, I didn’t hesitate to put it to use.
I had so much to do and catch up on that I could have stumped myself in analysis paralysis, so I began to read books and articles and listen to informative podcasts and videos; it wasn’t much, but it was something productive.
I was at this point operating on a specific principle: do things to build momentum and focus on where to direct that momentum later.
For the first time in years, I was feeling alright, and I was finally productive.
This would have all been great and all on its own, but even more significant, I developed the most essential habit in my life: self-reflection.
Turning off the music, looking up from the screen, and allowing myself to be in the silence of my own thoughts has been the most powerful resource to examine the endless complexities of life and the mind; it is a beacon leading light through the fog.
Over the summer, I would get my driver’s license and finally get a job working at Panera Bread. During this time, I would keep up these habits and work on improving how I performed them. There was still a long way to go, but the journey had been all uphill so far.
How I stopped drowning in depression and began living
As I took steps to recover from anxiety and depression, during this period, I began to rigorously work on developing specific patterns and habits to ensure that I was as efficient as possible without burning out and crashing back down again; I was now at a point where I was very stable in how I carried out tasks.
Up to this point, the year had been about me finding my footing and finally managing to be productive consistently, but my world would change without me even knowing it on October 23rd, 2019.
I still remember it so vividly.
I had been scheduled for a Wednesday closing shift, 4 P.M. to close in the drive-thru. When I stepped into the drive-thru, I was met with a new girl working there; her name was Valeria Flores.
She seemed like a really nice girl, but I was too shy to talk to her much at all, even when she tried initiating conversations with me.
That night as we were clocking out, I couldn’t help staring at her a bit; she was beautiful to me. What shocked me was that she tried talking to me the next shift, and eventually, I began to warm up to her.
Fast forward a few weeks, and we are starting to become inseparable at work.
And one night, she invited me to hang out with her after our shift.
I was nervous because I had never been out with anyone before and it was so sudden, but I really enjoyed my time with her, so I agreed to accompany her that night. I was clearly falling for her, and eventually, I had to confess to myself that I had feelings for this girl.
The next day I told her how I felt, and to my blessing, she felt the same way back.
We were awkward teenagers who had never done this kind of thing, but we eventually found our way around the typical firsts that couples do: first kiss, first date, and asking them to be your partner, which I officially asked her to be on January 18th, 2020 and which she gladly accepted.
While I was on top of the world, I was soon to be reminded of my lack of socialization, which would creep up and hurt those around me and myself.
4 steps that help when you are recovering from anxiety and depression
This time was marked by my own shortcomings and how it affected others. It made me realize how much immaturity was still lingering and how much further I still had to go to fully mature.
I had a big heart, and I cared a lot, but sometimes I could struggle with managing my anxiety and understanding what was socially appropriate.
Some of the things I did left damage that cannot be fixed, and for that, I felt horrible; I was trying my best but falling short and hurting who I cared for.
Those months I experienced highs where I felt invincible and lows where I wept myself to sleep.
I was an emotional wreck at this point, but as I had done before, I leveraged the power of self-reflection to not just acknowledge but genuinely look at the cause and effect and every single angle of my problems to fix them, and I can gladly say that by the end of summer my behaviors were worlds better than at the start of spring.
I cannot change the person I was back then, but I can acknowledge that I got better and forgive myself. After a time of growing pains, I felt like a person who was no longer plagued by social shortcomings.
I was not a perfect man, but I was far improved.
I began my first semester of college and had built up a fantastic relationship with Valeria, who makes me feel not so alone anymore. I have become stable minded, and through the ups and downs of the past two years, I have seen myself develop more than I ever realized I could.
Throughout these past two years, the changes that have gotten me out of my somber state were the following
- Taking my health seriously through practicing better eating habits and physical exercise
- Focusing on the process of building up productive momentum before focusing on directing that momentum
- Taking the time to self-reflect on all the hardships and issues of life and the mind and analyzing these things from every angle
- Putting yourself into new situations and experiences that will likely be uncomfortable and even painful, but extremely beneficial to personal growth
These are the main changes I can factor in my journey of pushing through a life that I didn’t want to live to a life of well-being. When I look back, the habits seem apparent, but my mind was so foggy that every thought felt blurred, and I’m just happy that I finally see better days.
Part of the man I wished to become is already in me now.
I have the motivation and energy to do work every day, the work that I do makes me feel like I have a purpose, and I can finally look back and feel proud of myself for how far I have come. To get there, though, was to focus on the changes that make a difference.