Finding strength to triumph depression, anxiety

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Deana Heitzman
  • 35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Before the sunlight touched my window, my alarm pierced the silence of my bedroom. As I reach over to my night stand to click snooze, I think:

“Just another day…”

Mustering the strength to get out of bed, I find my significant other running out the door on her way to work.

She tells me, “Have a great day,” and I tell her the same, but as I looked in the mirror, the face staring back at me told another story.

“Today is worse than yesterday…”

As the next few hours unraveled, things I loved and admired felt more like chores.

“I just want to go back to sleep…I have no motivation,” became my daily motto, while I made excuses to stay hidden behind a desk because I couldn't bear the anxiety of speaking with people. That’s a tough pill to swallow as a professional communicator and public affairs Airman.

It felt like my life was spiraling into a darkness I couldn’t control. I started experiencing panic attacks before interviews or photoshoots and at night I slept for what seemed like endless amounts of hours.

“I feel worthless…”

I knew depression had taken hold of my life. The illness was common within my immediate family, but I kept these warning signs to myself. I didn’t want to appear weak or spineless. I didn’t want to be discharged from the military. But that was just the stigma I created for myself.

This went on for months.

Replicating the facade of optimism and joy began wearing me down and I finally broke. I felt emotionless and numb to things at work and in my home life. Thoughts of things I never thought of before rushed into my mind and I didn’t know what to do.

“I need help…”

She came to my rescue—my significant other. She saw me in ways my coworkers couldn’t because of my fabricated exterior. I refused expressing my true emotions, deep dark thoughts, with anyone but her.

I found the trust and courage to ask for help because of her. Immediately I contacted my doctor and made an appointment in which I confessed everything. I was exhausted from pretending my life was perfect.

Despite what I thought about being pushed to the civilian world and out of the military, I am still serving and on the right track to becoming a healthier person.

In my opinion, depression and anxiety are one of the most looked over illnesses military members can experience. Honestly, anyone could succumb to acts of depression, even the ones you least expect.

It is easy for people to overlook the signs in their work center and think, “They are just having a bad day,” or saying “I don’t want to get involved.”

But the moment you don’t get involved, is when it might be too late.

Throughout the holidays, Airmen are more susceptive to negative thoughts and feelings because many of them are thousands of miles away from their families and friends back home.

If you are experiencing signs of depression or contemplating the act of suicide, please know you have the strength inside to get the help you need.

Friends, family members, coworkers or leaders, if you see someone going down this path, help them gain the courage to ask for help.

We are all important to this world and we all matter.

To get in contact with mental health, call 226-3230.