This is a guest post from Jadine Lydia. Read her bio below at the end of this post.
How do you recover from anxiety if you don’t even know that you are an anxious person? What are the mental and physical signs that you have anxiety? What steps can you take to come out of anxiety and depression?
These are questions that I’ve finally found the answers to and I will be sharing my story in this guest post. I write this after having wiggled my way out of years of depression and having learned to laugh at my anxious tendencies. My anxiety is still there but it does not have power over me anymore. This can be your story too.
How Do You Know If You Have Anxiety?
For most of my life, I didn’t even know I was anxious.
I thought I was just a high achiever with a fast mind and a restless body.
It is only now that I can openly admit that I am an anxious person.
The separation between mental and physical symptoms of anxiety has been a hard line to differentiate. I have experienced chronic health conditions since the age of nineteen and have been on a rollercoaster ride of learning to manage physical symptoms whilst living in a wobbly mental realm.
In this guest post, I will be sharing the three major gateways that lifted me out of depression and into a life with less anxiety and a load more laughter! I hope my story inspires you, moves you, and stirs you enough to rise above and beyond the depths.
You can feel better despite having anxiety and depression. I’m living proof.
A Personal Essay On Living With Anxiety and Depression
The Watery Depths (2015-2019)
I spent the four years from 2015 to 2019 in what felt like a hell hole; trapped from the inside out.
My physical body was in a ridiculous state and I was experiencing endless lists of crazy physical symptoms, hopping from doctor to doctor, hospital to hospital, and getting absolutely nowhere.
I had zero energy, I was sleeping by 2 pm every day and to be quite honest, I wanted out of life.
After three years of intense gut pain and chronic fatigue, I was diagnosed with a parasite. The doctor and hospital appointments went on and on and I found myself chasing an endless list of symptoms, hundreds of phone call appointments, and taking too many prescription medications to count.
After two years of treating the parasite, I was still sick.
Other labels were added to my health record including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Postural Tachycardia Syndrome, Dry-Eye syndrome, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, Gastroparesis, and Ehlers Danlos Syndrome.
I wanted out.
Emerging from the Depths (2019 onwards)
One pivotal thing I did during this dark time was to buy myself a sassy notebook. In the notebook, I wrote a ‘get better plan.’
When I was at my absolute depths of despair, I would sit down with my notebook and write the small, simple things that I could change which would make me feel like I was moving forward.
That was the first gateway out of my situation.
The more I began to do this, the more I realized: Depression = feeling stuck.
A conversation with my Mum further highlighted this fact. She said, “You need to focus on moving forward, it will help you get unstuck.”
She was right.
Every few months, I would write a ‘get better plan’ in my journal and it would allow me to feel less trapped.
As my health began to improve, I started to expand.
I wrote ‘Jadine 11.0’ at the top of my notebook and decided, I was going to upgrade myself; like an iPhone but in the human form.
Jadine 11.0 was brave, dynamic, strong, and creative. She was a go-getter, an intuitive, and a legend! Jadine 11.0 loved to dance, she loved yoga, she loved attending women’s circles, she loved dressing up sexy and hitting the town, she loved creating and blogging and having cozy nights with friends. Jadine also had her dreams…
I began to write about who I was at my core, things that lit up my soul, and places that I would love to visit. For the first time in a long time, I began to write down things to look forward to.
I was finally waking up to life.
My depression ended when I got unstuck.
Today, I am sharing my story with you to help you get unstuck as well.
How Do You Get “Unstuck” From Depression
Depression is not an easy thing to face and often it is not our choice to become depressed.
Many triggers can be the catalyst for depression including grief, illness, the loss of a job, low self-esteem, bullying, lack of purpose/direction, financial burdens, and more.
Whilst we cannot change the events of our lives, we do have a choice over two things…
We can either:
- Stay stuck OR move forward.
However, this has to be a conscious choice; you must be willing to move forward, and you must be open to the possibility of increasing your personal power.
Without this making this conscious choice, you will stay stuck.
5 Steps To Getting Unstuck From Depression
- Make future plans, even if they are small > give yourself something to look forward to!
- Write a list of people and places that make you feel good > spend more time with these people and at these places.
- Change up your routine > start a new hobby, go to a new supermarket, visit a garden center, walk a new way to work, expand your horizons!
- Ask Yourself > What would I be doing if this ‘circumstance’ hadn’t hit me?
Often when a crisis hits, we become so emersed in the crisis that we forget who we are, and what we liked to do before the darkness hit. Asking yourself this question will remind you, that you are not ‘depression;’ you are a living, breathing human with endless possibilities ahead!
- Write a monthly ‘get better/feel good’ plan > check in regularly and keep making small shifts to move forward in some way, shape, or form.
The concept of ‘getting unstuck’ is still one I use to this day. When life feels heavy, when a crisis hits or when I am feeling off-kilter – I ask myself, ‘how can I get unstuck?’
Similarly, ‘getting unstuck’ can also be a great tool for reducing levels of anxiety.
And there are other tools that can support you to rise beyond an anxious wreck. The next section of this post talks about overcoming anxiety in detail, backed by my personal experience and what worked for me.
What It Looks Like When Anxiety Takes Over
At many points in my life, I have been an anxious wreck.
Before experiencing chronic illness, I was already a flighty person – always worrying about what other people would think, what they would say, what would happen if I was late, what would happen if I forgot to pack something, what would happen if the train got canceled, and on and on and on.
Unfortunately, the experience of illness heightened these tendencies and before I knew it, I was avoiding EVERYTHING.
Suddenly, I started avoiding:
– eating out with friends (what if there was nothing I could eat?)
– going out in the evenings (what if I got too tired and couldn’t drive home?)
– seeing family and friends (how could they ever understand my state of health?)
– sharing lifts with people (what if I wanted to go home early?)
– going to shops (what if I couldn’t cope with the light and the noise?)
– working (what if I couldn’t get through my shift?)
The list went on.
Looking back I now see that these tendencies were simply subconscious behavior patterns that were trying to protect me. In Avoiding everything I was avoiding my triggers and trying to keep myself well.
Breaking Out Of My Comfort Zone to Break Out of Anxiety
If I am totally honest, I only began taking a closer look at this anxiety about six months ago.
During October of 2021, I was feeling so ‘squashed’ by the limitations that my anxious mind was putting on me, that I did something unexpected. I signed up for a course called DNRS – the Dynamic Neural Retraining System by Annie Hopper.
This course has changed my life.
In the past when people told me that I ‘needed to challenge myself out of my comfort zone’ I used to get annoyed. It’s not like I wasn’t already trying! I simply had a cascade of crazy health symptoms and a mind which didn’t know how to stay straight when my body was feeling wonky. On top of that, I didn’t have the tools to push myself out of my comfort zone, until I found DNRS.
DNRS isn’t just for people experiencing chronic health conditions, it is also for those with anxiety, PTSD, depression, and more; the course teaches you to rewire your neural pathways and has supported me to step into living my best life!
I am eating more food than ever before (which is a good thing), I am going out in the evenings to music events and gigs, I am sharing lifts with people and shopping until my heart is content, I am holding down my job and building my writing career, I am more spontaneous and I feel a lot more joy!
Floating Above & Beyond the Anxious Wreck
Anxiety isn’t quite like depression. Whilst planning dreams and goals may be a big part of pulling someone out of depression, this can often feel super scary for someone with anxiety.
Overcoming anxiety is about taking it step by step, by step.
It’s about easing your way into new situations, new places, and new people with little victories along the way. The more little victories you achieve, the more confidence you will have moving forward.
Overcoming anxiety is also about creating new associations.
Often, when our brain experiences a negative event it will unknowingly label similar situations with ‘anxiety alert!’ in an attempt to keep us safe. However, we must remember, that our brain is pretty primal. We are not cavemen anymore and walking into a supermarket is not going to kill us.
I say this because I used to have a real hard time going into supermarkets.
This was mainly due to the sensory overwhelm I would experience, related to my physical health.
However, after a while, my brain began to associate supermarkets with intense stress and pain and before long, I was avoiding them like the plague.
During the past six months, I have retrained my brain to actually enjoy supermarket shopping, by creating a positive association every time I enter a store. For example, I will take my time, meandering around the clothes aisles, looking at beautiful magazines, or picking up my favorite sweets!
I eeeeeeeeek out the experience, with as many positive associations as possible, whilst doing my shopping casually, rather than rushing in and out of the door.
At first, it was difficult and I was still experiencing high levels of anxiety walking into shops and stores. However, after a couple of weeks – a miracle happened!
I began to walk into the store feeling calm and relaxed, my sight and balance improved during the trip and I actually started to enjoy the experience. Now, I love shopping! (and all the jelly babies and gummy worms I return home with).
This is just one example of how we can create positive associations and reduce levels of anxiety that have been ‘learnt’ in relation to certain triggers.
How You Can Reduce Levels of Anxiety
- Step outside of your comfort zone just a little > practise this incrementally.
Perhaps this is trying one new food, maybe it’s walking down the street alone just 100 yards, perhaps it’s visiting your friend for thirty minutes. Set your comfort zone, and step outside just a little bit. Repeat this step regularly, increasing it just a little more each time.
- Create new associations > which situations do you currently struggle with? How can you make these more enjoyable?
Look for ways to create new, positive associations in situations that would usually cause you anxiety. You may even want to get your friends on board e.g. if going on the bus usually makes you feel anxious, you could ask your friend to come along with you and listen to some of your favourite tunes together!
Depression and anxiety are real things, but they are not permanent.
Whilst it may take a little work and determination, it is possible to feel infinitely better than you might feel now.
You can begin to lift out of depression by practicing this one simple rule:
- Choosing to MOVE FORWARD.
And you can begin to subdue levels of anxiety by following these action steps:
- Stepping outside of your comfort zone incrementally &
- Creating new, positive associations.
I can only hope that this post has lifted you in some way. I cannot thank Annie Hopper and the DNRS programme enough for giving me my life back. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions as I would love to connect!
Note > this blog post is not a replacement for any medication or doctor’s recommendations. Please see a healthcare practitioner if you are struggling with your mental health.
Jadine Lydia is an Intuitive Life Coach, Freelance Writer & Inspirational Content Creator. She lives on the Cornish Coast in South West England. Her writing shares her happy-go-lucky, holistic approach to love, laughter, and life; inspiring others to deepen their connection to the divine. She empowers others to take ‘intuitive action’ towards manifesting their deepest dreams and desires. Her latest books and self-development courses can be found via her website: