From Our Readers So, What Have You Been Doing? From Our Readers

For the past eight years I’ve lived with a combination of depression and anxiety. One of the most dreaded questions I get asked is the simple, “What have you been up to?” Such a simple question to answer right? “Oh, I went to that male stripper movie where Channing Tatum grinds around half naked.” Not so simple when you have depression or anxiety.

If either, or both, of those disorders are severe enough you may find yourself spending a lot of time close to home and a lot less time with your loved ones. Suddenly a simple question like “What have you been doing?” becomes daunting and embarrassing. What do I say? Nothing? That my ugly-crying could rival that of Kim Kardashian’s? That I found myself curled up on my bed, frozen in fear for no discernible reason? While they may be true, none of these answers comfortably roll off the tongue while talking to people you may not be that close with.

So what do I do? Lie? Nope. Can’t do it. Not even a little bit. It is my blessing and it is my curse. So instead I just give a half-hearted “Oh, nothing really” or make a joke about how I have no life. I feel like I almost give people a reason to look down on me. But slowly I’ve realized that I’m doing far from nothing.

The thing about mental disorders is that sometimes the hugest steps are invisible to others. So whilst I may still be trying to find the right way to answer that pesky question for other people, I know how to answer it for myself. I laid in my bed without getting a shower first. I walked to the library a couple of days after the shooting in Colorado, even with the fear and anxiety in my heart. I called someone on the phone for the first time since January. I shared my illness with someone I care about.

So, what have I been doing? Fighting a battle every day. Learning. Growing. Falling. Getting back up. Keeping hope alive. A lot. I’ve been doing a lot, actually.

By Kristen Wagner

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  1. What have you been doing? Writing an excellent article for Hello Giggles that has reached out to people and opened discussion about something not many people feel comfortable about about – that’s pretty impressive and more than most people do in a day! :-)

  2. Just tell them the truth, you’ve just came out of a bad depression. You might be surprised at how many will relate. It,s a lot more common these days and less viewed as a flaw or weakness. Most likely, your listener knows someone who suffered from the same disorder. Share the truth, you’ll be surprised.

  3. Congratulations on those steps you’re taking, girl! It’s ridiculously brave of you to share these feelings with others. I have been having episodes of clinical depression and SAD since I moved to Alaska 9 years ago and I know how you feel when asked the deceptively simple question “whatcha been up to lately?”
    I usually think about how to spruce up the fact that I attempt to squelch my issues with countless episodes of whatever my current tv obsession is at the time before I go out…it’s always awkward, but it’s important to have regular human interaction and friend time and keep making those steps!

  4. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. It’s a struggle, but the little progressions are a huge deal. And a step forward. Thanks for sharing this in a widely-read place to help others see they’re not alone.

  5. I never even realized I suffered from social anxiety until I read this article. And now I’m anxious.

  6. Thank you. As someone who has bipolar disorder and anxiety, I have to remember that the little steps are incredibly important. Going to the grocery store, getting dressed, showering – all these things seem like no-brainers, but for me, they’re proof that I’m moving in the right direction.

  7. This is beautiful and you are exactly right — you are doing something great just by being hopeful.

  8. This is an amazing article! Good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone! The line about ““What have you been doing?” becomes daunting and embarrassing.” totally resinates with me. I feel the same way. Worst part is feeling the anxiety of looking back at your “lost time” which really makes me crazy. I just try to keep moving foward, and if I feel I can’t, I watch something hilarious like ‘Reno- 911′ (which I am totes doing right now! haha!) or put on a Disney movie. I am finding positive distractions are sorta helping if not at least making me laugh a bit! :)

  9. Just keep swimming! You’ll get there. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Panic Disorder in 1999. Over the years I have tried literally everything: pharmaceuticals with great results and debilitating side effects, natural remedies, cognitive behavioral therapy (a big winner), tai chi, diet, exercise, changing professions and relationships, and even medicinal cannabis. Finally, after 13 years, I have over 350 panic-attack-free days a year! The rough times are fewer and further between, as I have found a balance that works for me. Thank you so much for sharing your struggles and victories.

  10. Yeah I know how that feels, this article was great. It’s nice to read about other people whom feel the same or go through some of the same things.

  11. Great article. This summarizes the awkward feelings I have when people ask me what I’ve been up to! I feel less alone now.

  12. You’re not alone. It’s okay to say you’ve just been living day to day. I think most people understand this, and I think more of us suffer anxiety than we think. We feel alone, but we’re really not!

  13. I meant “from” not “son” Dx

  14. i suffer son generalized anxiety disorder and social phobia. When someone asks me “What have you been up to?” I run and hide, then go home and curl up in my bed. Have you ever been to therapy? I went to one session and then I was too scared to answer the phone to schedule another xD I’d like to know if therapy works, I’m really tired of living like this :/ don’t you ever feel like the thing is ruling your life?
    Hugs :)

  15. I get ready to go to a party and then panic sets in and i sit in my room all dressed up. I don’t like that about myself. Then I have to think up stupid excuses as to why I didn’t show up.

  16. I remember having terrible homesickness as a kid at camp–I cried every night, i felt like I was sort of outside of myself and I dreaded the thought of someone speaking to me because I couldn’t imagine how to get out a single word. Depression feels exactly like that. Kristen, I understand so much of what you’re saying–unfortunately, I’ve lost friends and deeply hurt others by being off the grid for months at a time. I’m lucky to have a husband who supports me even though he doesn’t understand my feelings and wondered why I wouldn’t change therapists after 8 years, when my psychiatrist stopped taking our insurance. Even though it’s hard, I try to trade the gym for more time in bed. Sometimes the pull to just close my eyes and shut everyone out is too strong, but I know I always feel better after a workout vs. sleeping away hours I could spend with my family. I’m a writer by trade and big journaler. I write anywhere and everywhere, including at work, because I don’t care if my writing ever makes it into some physical journal somewhere. I just know it makes me feel better. Eating well, when I can, helps me to feel better too. So far the biggest help has been a drug we added to my antidepressant–it’s not something you’d ever want to take because of side effects, but I truly believed it has saved me over the last 3 years.

  17. Thats a great way of looking at it. I have always suffered from anxiety, mostly social, always. Not a time I can remember where I just always felt awkward, out of place, like I’m being watched, judged. This has made me become a very introverted person, and I’m ok with that. I love reading, vacationing on my own (which is hard to do sometimes, but I force myself to, anxiety will not own me), spending time with my cats, cooking, taking a bath with a glass of wine, quiet hikes. I don’t need others to be happy. I started getting treatment for it last November. A combination of therapy and drugs. Let me tell you, it has worked wonders. I still have a hard time with a lot of things, but it’s no where near as bad. Took an East Coast vacation this year. It was almost shock therapy. The first few days I was an anxious mess. The rest of the two weeks went all and all, pretty smoothly.

    Anyways, I hope you can find something that helps you. Hit me up on facebook if you ever need the ear of someone who can relate. That goes for anyone reading this.

  18. I have suffering with the same too……i ve been through a lot and i also have a dna-inclination towards it. with the help of a professional, i feel normal again after a long long time. dont think it is sth that u ll never get over. and u r in the right track :)

  19. You go girl! Those are huge things you’re doing! Keep up the good work and fight the good fight <3

  20. exactly. people wonder why they don’t see or hear from me in forever.