I'd like to introduce to you another advocate for depression and anxiety, Miss Brittnay Lewis. She's here today to talk about her passion and spread awareness.
How is depression different from feeling sad? What is it like to live with anxiety?
It’s much easier to go about your day-to-day life when you just feel sad. When I’m depressed I feel like I’m drowning. I cry a lot. I withdraw completely and don’t want to be around anyone. When you have depression and anxiety you battle your own mind. It’s like you are your own worst enemy, you’re fighting the feelings and thoughts you’re having, and you often feel like you’re losing.
What is someone’s day-to-day life like when they suffer from depression and/or anxiety?
I can’t speak for everyone but I often feeling like I have difficulty breathing. I go back and forth between wanting closer relationships and not wanting to be involved with people, or wanting to get out of the house but not really wanting to at the same time. I worry a lot- about everything. I clean a lot when I’m anxious and when I’m depressed I just sit around and cry a lot. When it gets really bad sometimes people don’t take care of themselves very well. I lose my appetite and forget to eat. I either won’t want to shower or want to just sit in the tub for a long time. I will want to lay in bed but be too worried about whatever it is that’s causing my anxiety that I can’t rest. So to put it simply- life with depression and anxiety is hard. I feel isolated a lot of the time.
How old were you when you first started feeling this way?
I can remember having these feelings as early as five years old. I would have really bad stomach aches and go to the nurse’s office at school every day. I was always extremely tired and lethargic but couldn’t sleep at night. I’ve never really slept through the night my whole life. My mind races at night and I frequently have anxiety attacks when I’m trying to settle myself down to try and rest.
How do you manage your symptoms?
I try different things. If I’m depressed and I feel like I have to cry, I start by just letting myself do that. Then I try to shower and straighten my hair and put on a nice outfit. Usually chocolate helps me feel better and talking to a friend. If I’m anxious I clean my house. When my house is messy is makes my anxiety worse so that helps and I usually feel anxious when I have a billion things I need to do, so I make a to-do list. I’m sort of weird about that so then I’ll go through the list and number the things I need to do in order of importance and then re-write it on a new piece of paper so it’s neat. Sometimes my anxiety gets so bad that I can’t do any of that and all I can do is pace back and forth through my house praying and trying to take deep breaths. Chamomile tea helps with my anxiety also. Counseling has helped me a lot. It helps just knowing someone is there when you need them, even if there’s no crisis going on- someone to tell you that you aren’t crazy and help you organize your thoughts and brainstorm solutions to whatever problems you might be having.
I also strongly recommend writing. I’ve always been a very creative type of person and a big introvert. Writing has always helped me cope with my feelings- and sometimes escape them. If you don’t like writing, I suggest painting, sewing, quilting, and cooking. Creating something is relaxing and can give you a confidence boost when you need one!
What is life like for you now?
In short- crazy, haha. I am a stay-at-home mom, mother of two. I have a seven-year-old daughter and a two-year-old son who is autistic with developmental delays. My husband is a Marine. I have multiple physical disabilities. My son has anywhere from four to five and a half hours of therapy a day and we usually have multiple adults at the house working with him. I am always working on multiple projects at once. Right now I am promoting my book of poetry, Shine Through the Darkness, which focuses on depression and anxiety and how I got saved (available as an ebook and paperback on Amazon), preparing my first YA novel Finding Freedom for publication, writing the second novel in that series and I began writing a children’s series targeted toward children with special needs to help teach self-help and daily living skills. My son is the main character. I also write articles for websites and ghostwrite books for clients. My depression is usually better because I’m busy, but lately, my anxiety has been through the roof. I’m a huge introvert, so doing interviews and going to bookstores and libraries to pitch my book is hard.
Have you felt embarrassed to tell people about your depression or anxiety?
Sometimes I do but not always. I don’t usually talk to people I’m not close with. I’m a big introvert and don’t usually enjoy talking very much. That’s a big reason why I became a writer. J
Do you have any advice for women struggling with depression and anxiety?
Know that you ARE NOT alone. Get counseling. Reach out, even though you don’t want to. Find some way to force yourself to keep taking care of yourself and keep your relationships intact even if you don’t want to. And please, PLEASE if you EVER have thoughts of suicide- tell someone immediately!
Now let's talk more about poetry.....
When did you start writing poetry?
The first poem I ever wrote was when I was in middle school. I think I was in second or first grade. Ready for a laugh? Here it is:
The Rat Went Splat
There once was a rat
Who ran under a mat.
A cat came and sat
On the mat.
The rat was quiet after that…
Why do you write poetry now?
To try to make sense of my feelings- to escape.
Do you have a process for writing your poetry?
Not at all. I write what comes to mind. I write what I feel.
Who are your favorite poets to read?
If I had to name some I would say Edgar Allen Poe and Robert Frost, but believe it or not, I don’t really read poetry.
Do you have any books to recommend on anxiety & depression?
This isn’t really related to anxiety or depression but I try to live by the Bible as best I can. It’s my guidebook for life <3 br="">
What other projects are you working on (that you can tell us about 😉)
I’m writing a YA series, I have one book completed that is getting ready for publication and I’m writing the first draft of the second book in that series, and I’m writing a children’s series. The children’s series is targeted toward preschoolers and special needs children/youth. I’m hoping to help3>
What is your blog about?
My blog is written with teens and young adults in mind. I have only done two posts so far as I have been busy with my books and I write articles and ghostwrite books for clients (I actually have a list of ten articles waiting for me when I finish here), but they are about recognizing unhealthy relationships and perseverance. I plan to write more on building strong support systems and self-esteem/confidence.
Where else can we find you on Social Media?
You can find me on twitter @BLewis and on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/brittany.lewis.5055.
You can view my website at www.brittanynicolelewis.blog.wordpress.com and if you like you can email me at Brittany.email@example.com. I would love to hear from you!
Thank you, Brittnay, for hanging out with us today. It was a pleasure to have you here.