Stigma Fighters: Kim Ulmanis

Anxiety Plus Depression = Constant Struggle 

I had a week to write this. Seven days. Well, I actually had a bit more but I gave myself a deadline of one week. But the end of that week came and I was still staring at a blank screen. Another anxiety attack had kicked in just a day after I finished my fall semester.

Wednesday. Thursday. Friday. Saturday. Each day getting progressively worse. Trouble breathing, fatigue, irritability. I couldn’t sleep either and it made the fatigue even worse. For days I was a zombie. I barely functioned most days.

Normally I just plow right through these difficult weeks, but this time my body said, “Fuck you. You ain’t doing shit this week.”

To a tiny extent, I was actually glad. My body forced me to slow down. To [sort of] breathe and be thankful I survived another semester at UNLV.

And yet, I was also pissed. How dare my anxiety and depression rob me of a relaxing week? How dare they fuck with me and leave me feeling like I failed at everything and was one giant moron who couldn’t do a damn thing? What. The. Fuck?! I just completed a kick ass semester by ending a news editing class with an A-. It was time to celebrate, not be kicked down into the proverbial gutter.

Anxiety, you’re an asshole.

I’ve been dealing with this for many years but it wasn’t until I finally sought help with the counseling center at UNLV that I realized how serious it really was.

In April 2014, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder and major depressive disorder. For years I just assumed I was nuts. Borderline hypochondriac. It was in all in my head and my imagination just liked to fuck with me.

A complete breakdown around Spring Break while on the phone with a longtime friend finally woke me up. Depressed and barely able to function I reached out for help. What other choice did I have? Anxiety and depression were eating me alive and something had to change.

Now, seven months later and on medication, I’m doing much better. Some days and weeks are entirely sucktastic, of course, but the nature of the beast is that it can strike at any moment. No warning. No trigger. I could be feeling great in the morning and when bedtime rolls around hours later I have done a complete 180.

And my husband, oh gees. The poor guy has to put up with this shit daily. Endless tirades some days that have me texting him about I feel like an empty, worthless, good for nothing jackass. It’s all untrue, but anxiety and depression has a nasty way of playing tricks on you.

Some of it is circumstantial or situational, as my psychiatrist would say. I’m cooped up at home, the finances are low and there’s nowhere for me to escape. All I have is an apartment, three cats, my laptop and a crap ton of movies I’ve already watched a gazillion times to keep me entertained somehow.

On occasion, playing Freecell on my laptop is also a great escape. It’s an easy (yet sometimes difficult) card game that allows me to put the world on pause for five minutes or longer. Play 15 games straight without looking up? Sure! Bring it on!

Sometimes, this is all I need. A comfortable and safe hiding spot where I can avoid people, avoid reality. When anxiety levels are high, so is the likelihood of me becoming overwhelmed in a matter of minutes in a busy environment. Starbucks? Haha. No. Just no.

Worse, when anxiety is high my body decides coffee is out of the question. Taking away a coffee fiend’s favorite morning beverage certainly fuels the crankiness. If I can drink one cup without feeling worse then I’m okay.

And again, that’s the nature of the beast. Sometimes the attacks are mild enough that they’re gone in an hour or so. Others last as long as two weeks and let me just say those ones fucking suck.

That’s two weeks without wine and adequate sleep. Two weeks of barely being able to breathe. Two weeks of feeling like shit day in and day out. Those…are the worst.

I live with all of this. Daily. I’m learning how to cope when the going gets tough. I still have a long road ahead and will certainly never be “cured” but I will continue to strive to feel better and be better in the long run. In the end, that matters more than being cured.

And hopefully, along the way, I will help others realize they are not alone. We matter and we deserve to have our voices heard. So thank you for taking the time out to read my story. I appreciate it.

10836368_10152902372282037_1323220448_n

Kim Ulmanis is a Las Vegas based writer, photographer and journalism student with three adorable felines who keep her company and make her laugh on the rough days (and the good ones too!) She has been married to a patient and loving husband for four years who has given her the support she needed to feel better. She thrives on coffee, the occasional bottle of wine, sarcasm and road trips along Route 66 where her free spirit can breathe. Kim can be found writing about everything from her cats to writing to books on her self-titled blog Kim Ulmanis. Follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/kimulmanis or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/kimulmanis

  • http://www.multilingualmama.com/ CocodeRojas

    I feel your pain. I suffered for years clueless and thinking I was mad. Hreat to share this story. It helps the rest if us know we are not alone. Hugs.

    • http://www.kimulmanis.com/ Kim

      Thanks so much for your kind words. You are definitely not alone. None of us are. Hugs to you as well.

  • http://www.chrismorriswrites.com/ Chris Morris

    Kim, I’ve always admired your transparency. It takes guts to be so damn real with the struggles your anxiety and depression give you, rather than hiding behind a facade of being okay. I’m walking that same path right now, having discovered my seizures are “psychogenic nonepileptic seizures” (a fancy way to say, “Your seizures aren’t neurological, you’re just whacked”). Knowing we’re not alone is such a powerful concept, one that pushes me to not quit on the dark days.

    • http://www.kimulmanis.com/ Kim

      Thanks, Chris! I hope you feel better soon!

  • Hasty Words

    You are most definitely NOT alone…although depression doesn’t really give a shit if you feel anything but alone. On my good days I can see and feel the world around me and it feels like sunshine but when depression is awake it steals that sunshine as if it never existed.
    I am glad I am not alone because it means there is hope, someday, that it will be something we will try to cure like we try to cure cancer.

    Much love my friend!!!

    • http://www.kimulmanis.com/ Kim

      Damn. How the hell did I miss your comment?!

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Hasty. It means a lot to me. You’re right that depression doesn’t give a shit. It’s a fucking honey badger at times. The best we can do is keep moving forward and doing what we can to get better no matter how hard it is. And holy shit that reads like some seriously cliche bullshit. Damn it.