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What Do You Do When It’s All Too Much?
You get home from work, head into your room in your tiny New York apartment, then plop down in the seat at your desk. It’s time to do what you always do on the third day of each month: pay your bills.
You pull your laptop out of your tote bag and place it on your desk. You move slowly and lethargically like you have a fever and body aches, but you know you’re not sick. You’re just sad that all of your money is about to go straight to your bills.
Sighing, you start with your loan payment. You go to your bookmarks, find Navient, then click it and log into your account. Instinctively, you press Quick Pay, allowing your student loan provider to withdraw $756.34 out of your checking account.
Now, it’s time to pay for everything else. You drop $1,879 on rent even though your room is the size of a shoebox—you can only fit a bed, desk, and a chair in it. Everything else is stuffed in your closet.
Next, you pay your half of the electric bill, an expense you split with three other roommates who can’t fit into your apartment’s kitchen all at once. Then, you pay off some of your credit card debt, handle your cellphone bill, put $50 aside for a prescription you need to refill, pay for your Netflix and Hulu subscriptions, buy another MetroCard for public transportation, and transfer $20 into a savings account you’re trying to rebuild.
By the end of it, you have $324 left for the month, and you still need to buy groceries. Slumping into your chair, you tilt your head back and stare at the ceiling. Even though you pay the same number of bills every month, you still haven’t gotten used to the small amount of money you’re left with for groceries and fun — if fun is even a thing for you anymore.
The crippling effects of anxiety and depression
Because of your finances, you haven’t gone out with your friends in over a month. New York City is expensive, and when you only have $324 left in your bank account, you can’t prioritize nightlife when groceries eat up more than $100 every two weeks.
Even if you did have the money, it’s unlikely you’d have the time. You work 24/7. You hustle hard just like everyone else in the city. You go to five to six meetings every single day, you stare at a computer screen for hours on end, you think about work outside of the office, you respond to emails before you go to bed, and you talk to your coworkers and clients more than you talk to your family.
You’re not lying when you tell parents, “My whole life revolves around work and bills.” Making money and spending money on what’s necessary are the only two things you think about these days.
Closing your eyes, you cover your face with your hands, ready to break down and cry. You don’t raise up until you hear your phone ding, alerting you of a text message. You reach for your phone on your desk, unlock it, and read a text from your therapist. She wants to know if you’re coming in today. You haven’t gone to your therapy sessions in the past two weeks, and she wants to hear from you.
Annoyed, you drop your phone back onto your desk. You don’t want to talk to anyone right now. What’s there to talk about anyway? The house you’ll never be able to afford? The expensive rent you’ll have to pay for forever? The school loans that’ll hang over your head for the next fifteen years? Or the fact that your boss uses fear-based leadership tactics to motivate you?
You don’t want to talk about those depressing topics with your therapist today. It will only make you feel more depressed and anxious, and you don’t want to hear your therapist ask if you’ve been taking the medication he prescribed you.
You look at the Effexor lying on the corner of your desk, and you eye the white medicine bottle as if it’s going to attack you. The pills are supposed to treat depression, but you know better than to believe that.
Your mom used to take Effexor for depression, and she faced a whole load of side effects as a result. Her blood pressure went up, she was sleepy all the time, and she developed diabetes. Your mom was not the same person once she started taking Effexor, and you don’t want to experience those same side effects.
But what should you do instead? You need an answer to this question because your anxiety and depression are killing you. Some days, you can’t get out of bed. Other days, you cry at breakfast. And every day at work, you fear you might get fired. By the time you get home, you don’t have an appetite and prefer to just stay in bed.
You cry as soon as you hit your pillow, and you toss and turn throughout the night. Your anxiety and depression are ruining your life, and you have no idea how to fix yourself.
How to cope when it hurts
When you hear a knock on your door, you turn around in your chair to see Emily, one of your roommates, standing in the doorframe. You motion for her to come in, so she walks into your room, jumps onto your bed, then asks if you want to head to your favorite Mexican restaurant down the street for Taco Tuesday.
You tell her you can’t go out to eat even though you’d love to go more than anything. Hanging out with Emily always makes you feel better. Somehow, she manages to stay positive and energetic even though you both pay the same bills, have demanding jobs with toxic work cultures, and have little to no time to rest. Emily is the only millennial you know who’s handling life so well.
You wonder how she does it, and you ask Emily for her advice. She’s clearly doing something you’re not, and you want to know her secret. Smiling, Emily tells you that she uses a few simple tricks to keep her head above water.
She points to the Effexor on your desk and says that she doesn’t use pills for depression and anxiety. Instead, she tells you that she uses natural remedies to keep her calm and upbeat. Emily names the different essential oils, vitamins, plant-based supplements, and herbs that she uses every day.
She even walks into her room and comes back in with all of her natural remedies in hand. Emily tells you to try anything you’d like, and she stresses to use the natural alternatives in the morning and night to keep your anxiety and depression at bay.
Then, the next tip Emily gives you is simple: invest in self-care. She reminds you that while you work all the time, it’s crucial to carve out moments for yourself, even if that means waking up earlier. Emily suggests that you take a walk in the park, practice yoga, journal your thoughts, or call a friend or family member that you miss and haven’t talked to in a while.
She tells you that the most important thing is not to get lost in one of your favorite Netflix or Hulu shows—that’s Emily’s third tip. She reminds you to lean on people instead of TV, especially on bad days. She encourages you to find someone to call for comfort and advice when your anxiety and depression are at their worst. She also recommends that you find a group of people, whether that be a church, support group, or a few close friends, who can help and encourage you.
Emily tells you that her strategies have helped her cope with her workload, finances, and worries. She explains that she has more good days than bad, and she believes that you can, too, if you consistently invest in your health, self-care, and relationships.
Still anxious but much more optimistic, you thank Emily for her advice and tell her that you’ll try her tips. She smiles and offers to be there for you, starting with a trip to your favorite Mexican restaurant for Taco Tuesday—her treat.
Do you know someone who is struggling with anxiety or depression? If so, share this article to give them a few tips on they can cope when it all seems like too much. We hope we can help.