Overcoming the Challenges of Depression and Anxiety | Resilience Stories Series

Claire Gaudreau, Psychology student at Concordia University and yoga instructor

Author: Claire Gaudreau. This blog has been reviewed by Elizabeth Razzouk and Elijah Nimijean, edited by Rémi Thériault

You have probably experienced some hardships in your life, most of us have. Life has its ups and downs, so how can we cope? Resilience is how we bounce back from these challenges; it is how we show up when facing adversity. Does it take a while to recover from hardships? Sometimes life throws things our way that feel impossible to manage. We may feel completely crushed, but somehow, we eventually manage to pick ourselves up and keep going. Adversity is not something we can avoid our entire lives. It helps us grow and develop into mature human beings. However, it can also lead to feeling stuck, anxious, or depressed. Without the skills to get back up, great life challenges can leave us feeling depleted and helpless.

People who are highly resilient also tend to be flexible and capable of adapting easily in stressful environments.

Did you know that resilience can be practiced and improved? People who are highly resilient also tend to be flexible and capable of adapting easily in stressful environments. According to Psychologist Emmy Werner, you are not doomed to fail because of a traumatic past. Stress-resilient qualities such as self-sufficiency and self-control can be learned. With preparation, we can change our emotional reaction to life events and increase our level of resilience — much like how we can train our muscles at the gym.

The Resilience Stories Series are inspirational stories about real people who have learned to overcome immense life challenges and continue to thrive. Discover which strategies worked for these individuals who became highly resilient.

My Story

Soon after entering high school, I experienced an all-time low that I just could not shake. I felt rage, a deep sadness that resembled losing a loved one (although there had been no loss), and anxiety that interfered with daily life. Other times I felt nothing, completely numb. I began to seek out means of coping with the emotional pain; alcohol, drugs, finding a sense of control through diet. Of course, these mediums of coping only made things worse, and addiction was compounded with thoughts about taking my own life.

After several years of therapy, I was referred to a psychiatrist as a final resort. However, just a few months later I ended up right back where I began. Deep in feelings of depression but desperate to survive, I committed to trying anything and everything that might help. This commitment led me to try a guided meditation group. After my first guided meditation session, I noticed a huge shift in perspective. I felt relaxed, at peace. A feeling that had escaped me for many years before. I made the decision to return the next week, and the feeling kept me coming back to class for the next 2 years. Rather than view myself as a victim of my situation, I realized that I am responsible for my own emotions. That I have the choice to either concentrate on all the pain and negativity in my life, or to appreciate and focus on the things that matter.

Rather than view myself as a victim of my situation, I realized that I am responsible for my own emotions.

Did my symptoms of depression and anxiety disappear; was I cured? Not quite. However, I regained enough momentum to keep me going and build my resilience skills. To bounce back just a little faster, with a little more oomph…

Little by little my life turned around. I quit drugs and excessive alcohol consumption. I began to practice yoga, eat healthier, and eventually took the leap to begin teaching yoga and return to university as a Psychology and Theology student. I married the love of my life and just gave birth to our first child. Back then, I never expected to make it this far and I never imagined that small lifestyle changes could lead to a fulfilling life. But here I am, and I could not be more grateful for the amount of love in my life.

While we do not have control over unexpected life events, we do have control over our reactions to them. We can choose to accept what has happened and assume responsibility for the actions we take in response. Blaming the circumstances keeps us at an impasse. The choice is yours whether you decide to remain in feelings of despair or take positive action to turn the situation around. The very obstacles you feel are holding you back, could be opportunities for personal growth. It’s all about perspective.

While we do not have control over unexpected life events, we do have control over our reactions to them.

Resilience is a practice; it is all the daily habits that build up our strength. It is perseverance, it is character… and I continue to practice it regularly to keep myself on the right track. You can too!

Is there someone who has overcome incredible adversity who inspires you? Let us know their story in the comments below. If you found this story helpful, please share with your friends. You never know who you might inspire!

Disclaimer

Resilience Stories Series is not intended as a replacement for psychological or medical treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms, please seek professional advice.

Questions? Comments?

Contact me at claireyogaresilience@gmail.com or check out my FaceBook page for more on yoga and meditation: www.facebook.com/yogaresilience

If you or a member of your family have suicidal thoughts, are in distress or in mourning, you can call anytime at 1.833.456.4566 or consult this site: https://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/en/

References

Resilience and Recovery: Findings from the Kauai Longitudinal Study, FOCAL POiNT Research, Policy, and Practice in Children’s Mental Health Summer 2005, Vol. 19 №1, pages 11–14, https://www.pathwaysrtc.pdx.edu/pdf/fpS0504.pdf

If you liked this blog or if it has helped you in any way, please take a moment to like, share, or comment!

We are the Student Ambassador Program of the Canadian Positive Psychology Association (CPPA). Find our website here: https://www.cppa.ca/Student-Zone

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