Depression and anxiety: it’s in my head an it’s a monster

I’m feeling so sad today. Not a crying sad that gets the sadness out but a deep, empty sadness that doesn’t want to move.
I woke up at 3:30am this morning and wasn’t able to get back to sleep. Those dark, early moments of any day scare me.
It’s me, alone with myself and I feel as if nothing or no-one in the world exists. It feels like death, it feels like getting old and being forgotten. I project my fears into the future and completely forget to live in the moment.
I have to take a step back and see what is going on for me that I find myself engulfed by a dark bout of depression and anxiety.
A depression and anxiety that has visited me since I can remember. This is not a new feeling, this is an old, ingrained and entrenched way of being, surviving, trying to keep my head above water.

I feel as if I am drowning desperately kicking and swimming to keep breathing short sharp breaths. The breaths are getting shorter and harder and I know it’s time to stop fighting and start surrendering.

I need to let go.
Not of life, don’t get me wrong, despite my current state I still love living, experiencing and being alive. I need to surrender this fear that’s keeping me stuck in my head.
This head of mine that makes me know with every fibre of my being that addiction is a disease and that abstinence alone is not enough to live a life in recovery. I am clean and have been for over a decade of drugs and alcohol, I haven’t binged, purged or restricted food for almost as long. I haven’t lapsed on eating sugar so on the surface I have not acted out by using addictive behaviour. But it’s in my head and it’s a monster.
There’s a slogan in ‘the rooms’ as we call the 12 step fellowship that reads:
“This too shall pass” and I know it will but sitting with this darkness and looking it straight in the eye is terrifying at times, those times that I find myself alone and unable to distract myself from myself.
What’s going on is that I am faced with an incredible amount of uncertainty at the moment. Not only my own but that of my loved ones as well. Big life decisions that would render even the most ‘sane’ person a little hopeless and helpless.
There are no definitive answers, no-one else can tell me what to do and I don’t know the outcome of choosing one path over another. It scares me. It makes me feel completely out of control and alone.
So I wake up in the early hours of the morning having to face the nameless, faceless monsters labelled depression and anxiety. Scary monsters that many of us face in the society that we live in.
I often feel so far removed from those ‘normal’ people out there. The ones with the fancy houses and big cars, with the straight hair and nice clothes. I feel like an imposter pretending that everything is okay when it clearly isn’t.
And this is once again where I am saved by the sanity of the 12-step fellowship. In early recovery I attended a meeting a day for the first year. It saved me on so many levels, it made me feel part of a solution where I had only ever experienced being the problem. There’s another saying:
“Don’t judge your insides by someone else’s outside”.
We all fight our own battles and demons, some more publically than others. My life from the outside may look and amazing and often it is but there are also these times of immense insecurity that make me feel paralysed.
And that’s where I am right now. Writing this post has definitely allowed me to let go a little. My shame dies on exposure and this is exactly what has happened.
Where to from here? I keep writing, I keep sharing and I get these thoughts and feelings out of my busy head instead of festering inside. I walk in nature, I visit my parents, I go to a 12-step meeting and I do stepwork. I get back to basics. I know it works if I work it.
Have you suffered from depression and anxiety? What helps you in your darkest moments?

15 Responses to “Depression and anxiety: it’s in my head an it’s a monster”

  1. Les Walters

    I feel for you Karen. I haven’t ever felt as you are feeling but I acknowledge your suffering and wish I could offer strength and advice. Instead, I ask the Lord to look kindly upon you and to fill you with every bodily and spiritual grace, and will continue to do so.

    A friend from Oz…Les

    • Karen Thomson

      Thank you Les, you have no idea just how much that means. I feel truly blessed.
      xxxx Karen

      • Renier

        Karen, I can feel your pain! Ek weet presies waarvan jy praat! Troos jou daaraan dat daar wel goeie medikasie en terapie beskikbaar is, veral BWRT vir angstigheid. Kontak asb vir Jorgan Harris vir BWRT sessie of 2. Sterkte, Renier

  2. Stella

    Karen you are an amazing lady & I admire and respect your honesty on a deep level! I have been where you are today and there are some nights I wrestle with the same feelings you describe… So I KNOW! I too work it because I am worth it, and it does work! Right now I am in a world of pain through rejection & abandonment by a close family member, but the God of my understanding gives me the strength to look this ‘r&a’ squarely in the face and say; “NO, you keep your s**t on your side of the street, because I am keeping my side clean, by forgiving, and by rejecting offense & bitterness from growing in my heart!” This way I find peace deep inside of me despite the storm of pain! I hope this encourages you dear one, as I have been encouraged by you & me too!????????????

    • Karen Thomson

      Hi Stella, what a magnificent message and exactly what I needed to hear. Thank you for showing me that I am not alone and that ‘together we can do what we cannot do alone’.

      Hope your situation works itself out for the greatest good.

      You are such a gift.

      xxx Karen

  3. Karen Baker

    Hi Karen. I certainly know how it feels to be up with those all engulfing feelings of helplessness and darkness. It feels like no matter how hard you swim, the sinking just keeps on occurring. But in my own experience, I found that eventually there is that little grey streak of dawn. Sometimes it comes quickly and sometimes it takes a while. In the meantime, keep putting one foot in front of the other and just do the next best thing. Sending you much love and hoping that this is a short-lived blip in your life. xx

  4. MM

    Karen, my wife suffers from the worst kind of Bipolar condition – The manic episodes are horrible but at least they are more visible, open, something that can be fought, but the depression that follows is longer, more insidious.

    She has been lucky to find a really good psychiatrist who does not believe in over-medicating but has carefully mixed therapy with carefully-measured doses of Latuda, Abilify, etc.

    You are fortunate in that you have your focus on the Sugar-Free revolution. Focus on that, focus on the enormous good that does for so many others. Having that focus, those rewards can help pull yourself out of the black hole.

    • Karen Thomson

      Thank you so much Mike. I am sending loads of love to you and your wife xxx

  5. Nick

    Hi Karen, Thank you for your honesty. I went to sleep anxious and awoke the same this morning. Hard to breathe 🙁 This too shall pass I hope. I’m excited at your possible forthcoming changes. Enjoy your holiday xxx

  6. Sandi

    Hi Karen. Your honesty is inspiring. Thank you.

  7. Sandi

    Hi Karen. Your honesty is inspiring. That “sad” is a friend of mine that visits often. We have come to have a strange yet harmonious relationship. Sometimes the visit is unexpected but then i come across words like yours, am reminded that we are not alone and the world is right again. Thank you.

  8. Mike


    I have dealt with my wife’s bipolar-1 condition for many years and although the manic phases were very trying, the depression is in many ways, more destructive as they are more insidious, harder to fight.

    I’m sure that you have had all the usual advice, focus on the positive, etc. You do give so much to so many people, but I can see how hard it may be to fight a demon within you.

    We were recently advised by a therapist to try an app called “Calm” – it’s available for both droid and iOS phones. Just search in the app stores. It’s no miracle cure, but it is convenient and helps. Being on your phone, it can be used when ever needed.


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