My name is Jessica Adanich. I was born and raised in Northeast Ohio. I have two amazing parents, Susan and Emery Adanich, who helped me become the person I am today. I’m an artist, designer, author, daughter, friend, bunny mom, lego enthusiast, fish owner, knitting guru, ocean obsessed, shark lover, gardening newbie, thirty-one year old female. I also battle with depression and anxiety.
In today’s world many people feel if they have depression and/or anxiety (D&A) they are defective, non-human beings. Of course, this is part of their depression speaking but also partly how our society looks at people who declare they have depression. Slowly as a whole, we are beginning to realize this isn’t true. Most people you would never expect to have such issues actually do. And most times unfortunately, those people are spending a lot of energy trying to hide it and battle it by themselves.
I think since I have published Journal+ and began telling my story; I’m finally starting to feel free. It’s incredibly exhilarating to finally give yourself permission to be truly you. I may battle with depression and anxiety but it does not define me. I have my good and bad days, but at the end of each one, I know that I’m made of a lot of other wonderful things besides the depression and anxiety. To some it may sound like an impossible point to get to in life, but I feel with hard work, practice and asking for help things can get better. My path took some time to get to where I am now. There were many large hurdles, small bumps, giant potholes – and most importantly, tiny steps of progress along the way.
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always worried entirely too much about everything. My mother even says that I came out of the womb feeling guilty, worried and saying sorry for everything. Growing up, I had an incredible family unit and still do to this day. However, I was teased very badly by other children for being overweight. This started at daycare and went through to junior high. Looking back I feel that really changed my path and me. When I entered grade school I had a strong desire to perform my best in my academics. I feel this was my way of trying to make up for being fat and “visually undesirable”. If I was just “smarter” I would somehow be as good as those around me that had brains and beauty.
In high school the teasing and feeling of being visually undesirable increased. My best friend at the time felt the same, so together we helped keep our eating disorders on track. I’d lie to my parents saying I’d eaten with friends and lie to friends saying I’d eaten with my parents. I felt a rush of control over my life when I denied myself food and I felt stronger when I could feel the pangs of hunger creep in. This continued into college and the act of bulimia was added to my eating disorder arsenal. I felt more in control when I could eat and know that I could immediately get rid of the calories. Seeing pictures of myself during high school and college I was very thin. I just didn’t see it then, I had and still battle with body dysmorphia. This is where you can’t stop thinking about the flaws in your appearance and they appear larger and more distorted to you than they actually are.
In college, I used the combine elements of anorexia, bulimia and alcohol to hide my negative feelings of inadequacy and stress. It wasn’t until my second year in college that a very close friend said to me that she was concerned that I might be battling with depression. I was sad all the time and kept saying, tomorrow would be better, but it never was. I took those words to heart and to this day am thankful for her caring, bold words. I immediately sought out the college counseling office and made an appointment.
I began one-on-one counseling along with group therapy for my social anxiety. The group therapy was a small group of people that met weekly to bounce their thoughts off one another. It was helpful to see the difference between what we perceived to be other people’s thoughts and what was actually true. In conjunction, I also met with my doctor and began a heavy dose of antidepressants. The one-on-one counseling continued through college and beyond. I still often feel guilty about the way I treated people and handled certain situations in college. I’ve spent the past few years sending emails to people apologizing for my behavior or how I just hid away or disappeared from our friendship. Most were receptive and many didn’t hold it against me, which relieved my guilt. I know the overwhelming guilt is a side effect of depression so I often remind myself of that fact.
After college my medical insurance changed and the new plan didn’t cover my prescription. I had to stop taking my antidepressants and use what I had to wean myself off of them. The process of weaning off was much faster than they recommend, which caused awful side affects. It had physically made me sick and mentally I had the worst thoughts of my life. On top of that, I was trying to find a job, save money for my own place and trying to make my monthly student loan payments. I felt like I was buried under a mountain of worry and surrounded by stop signs on all sides. At some moments I felt like not being alive would be a better option than my current situation. That was literally the worst I have ever felt in my life. I vowed then to do everything in my power to fight the depression without medication. Thankfully at this time I had moved back in with my parents. They were my support system through this period. I thank God everyday for them, as I’m not sure if I had not had such loving people in my life, I wouldn’t of made it through.
Through a close friend, I ended up finding a new counselor. She went to her during a rough time in her life and sang praises on her counseling style. I gave her a call and began counseling as soon as possible. We met at a church and for the first time I really felt like she was helping me and understood where I was coming from. She gave me homework and strategies that I could use in my life to help combat the negative thinking and depression. It was during this period of time I realized my depression was linked to PMDD, Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder. I was overjoyed to finally find a source for my thoughts, feelings and actions.
I began diving into research, reading all I could on PMDD, depression and anxiety. I felt the more I could understand these issues, the better I could combat it. I met with my doctor, who has been another amazing support system for me, and I started a very low dose of antidepressant to help take the edge off at the worst moments. Now realizing what I was dealing with, I felt okay with starting another medication, especially such a small dose. I didn’t want to numb myself but needed something to stop me from getting so incredibly low during rough moments. Working closely with my doctor and having my family as a close support system, I finally felt like I was on the right path to feeling better.
I of course, continued counseling in conjunction with this. The use of workbooks and worksheets in the counseling inspired the first draft of “Journal+”. I’d designed it for myself and had one copy printed. When I showed it to my counselor she was so pleased I’d grown so much and used my creative talents to make a useful tool. She mentioned I should consider creating a version that I could publish to share with others in my situation. I thought it would be a great project for me to put my energy into while also helping others struggling as well. That is when Journal+ was created. After sharing it with family and friends, I had a final workable concept. I gave copies to those closest to me and they not only loved it, but also cherished it. With that inspiration from family and friends, I began the process of self-publishing. Which bring us to today.
I now use a variety of outlets to help my depression and anxiety. With those activities I also have my wonderful parents and friends, who through my worst and best times, still love me. I’m finally in the best place of my life. For example, just last summer I finally fought my anxiety to face my eating issues. I, once again, asked for help. Despite feeling sick with anxiety, I went to a small gym that focused on one-on-one training. Once I dove in, the anxiety dissipated. I’m learning to love myself for who God created me to be. It’s going to take time to get my metabolism back (which is now at a 73 year olds metabolism), but it’s a process just like everything else. I’m now eating, working out, journaling, gardening, knitting, planning social events and overall enjoying my life and the people in it. I’m not saying that everyday is sunshine, rainbows and glittery unicorns, but most of the time it is. And for the days that are gloomy, raining and devil unicorns, I have my support system and coping strategies. I pray, knowing that God is with me and tomorrow is a new day.
Dealing with depression and anxiety may be a part of you but it does not at all define you. You are more than those aspects and have so much more to offer the world. God loves you just the way you are and you are a work of art. Be proud to be you, flaws and all.