Anxiety Snowballing into Depression
Many people have asked me in my travels of whether anxiety can lead into depression.
It’s a great question and whilst I’m not qualified to provide a medical opinion, I can always provide a personal opinion from a lived experience perspective. For me personally, yes anxiety can lead into depression.
To explain how depression creeps its way into my life, it is best explained by sharing with you a specific day in my life where anxiety snowballed into depression.
Approximately 5 years ago, I was living in Perth and I had purchased some tickets to go to an international Test Cricket match at the WAACA Cricket Ground and from memory it was Australia versus India.
My wife still to this day reminds me how highly strung my emotions were on the days and weeks leading towards this event. My wife explains that I was always sharing concerns over what may happen on the way to the cricket, when I get to the cricket and my trip to return home. What I know now what I didn’t know then is that this was a leading indicator that I was having negative thoughts about all the things that could go wrong which raised my anxiety levels.
The day finally arrived when I was to go to the cricket. I woke that morning very early, uptight, nervous and with my mind racing with all the things that could go wrong on the day.
Not understanding how to control these anxious emotions at the time, I pushed through by jumping in my car and driving to the cricket.
I can tell you now that this is where all the feelings of anxiety started to ramp up whilst I was driving. I was trembling with negative thoughts such as;
- What if there is an accident on the freeway?
- What if the traffic comes to a standstill?
- What if this makes me late to the game?
- When I get to the WAACA carpark, what if there’s no parking available?
- What if I’m late and there’s a long line to get in?
- What if it rains when I get there, my seats are out in the open?
…and the list of negative anxious thoughts continued to consume my mind.
This is how anxiety snowballed or transitioned into depression for me on this day.
A small inner voice that appears to be kind and positive pops out of nowhere to support me in my time of need. This voice appears to be a voice of reason, compassion and I thought it was there to relieve me from this anxious state which came in the form of;
- You don’t need to be putting yourself through this!
- Be kind to yourself, take the next offramp!
- Go on, take the next offramp, turn around and drive back home!
- Once your home, you will feel a lot better!
…and the list of supportive suggestions continued to reassure me that I would be better off returning home.
So I’m driving along the Mitchell Freeway, heading towards Perth when these voices of support and compassion convinced me that I should turn around and return home. I can tell you that at the time, it was the best thing I had done that day for all the feelings of anxiety left my mind and body in an instant. The voices of reason were valid and were supporting my wellbeing.
…or did they?
Once I arrived back at home with the feelings of anxiety now vacated from my mind and body, my mind transitioned to a worse experience. Now I had negative voices telling me;
- You useless piece of crap!
- You had one simple task to do and couldn’t come through!
- You idiot!
- You will never be able to achieve anything in life!
- A simple game of cricket and you could even do this!
- If you can’t do this, you will never be able to do anything!
- Your useless!
It was from this point forward that I dropped back into a depressed state of mind. I was however more experienced at identifying that my current state of mind was not a healthy place to be in and that I required the assistance of a professional to get me back to a good place. I visited my GP the next morning and obtained a referral to see my Psychologist who got me back to feeling good about myself once again.
What I have learned about this specific experience is that whilst sometimes we can have a supportive voice that is providing suggestions to prevent you from harm, sometimes these voices are depression in disguise. Instead of supporting me to succeed, it’s my mind enticing me to fail.
Voices of positive support would have come in the way of;
- Its ok, if there is an accident, you can’t control this!
- Its ok, if the traffic is banked up, you can’t control this!
- Its ok, if there’s no parking, you will find somewhere else to park!
- Its ok, there is no time of arrival restrictions so you won’t be late!
- Its ok, if it rains you can find some cover!
- You will love this day!
- You can do this!
In this present day, I am very mindful that providing I control my anxiety through the many strategies that I utilise, it will keep depression at bay and I can live a life with purpose and happiness.
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