I always thought of anxiety and depression as being basically the same emotions. Certainly the sensations are connected. I likened the feelings to the color blue green; the tint you get when you take green and add a little more blue. I felt that depression was simply anxiety with a little blues thrown in.

With the help of a therapist and a very good workbook, however, I am learning more about these two diverse emotions. Depression is a feeling of loss. It is feeling defeated, discouraged, angry because something bad has already happened. Anxiety is feeling fear. It is what you feel when you predict what could happen in the future.

Simply put: Anxiety being fear of the future and depression being anger for the past. Anxiety is feeling like a speeding car is coming right at you and you can’t move. Depression is feeling like you have already been run over by the car and left for dead.

I’m going to a therapist right now to help me cope with grief over the loss of my husband. Jim ever so slowly breathed his last breath; as I lay with my head on his chest, crying and telling him that everything would be all right. As he looked at me with those “scared in the headlight” doe eyes, I assured him that it was OK to let go. I painted a peaceful picture of him going to be with his cherished mother, and not hurting anymore. I promised him that I would be fine. As he slipped from the living to the dead, I slipped from anxiety to depression.

My anxiety was a combination of fear and twisted projection of what could happen to him and to me. I was filled with anger and resentment that he had to suffer as he was. Even though I visited him every morning and every night, I was anxious and worried that I would not be there when he died. I had promised him that I would be there with him.

I was nervous when I lifted him to and from his wheelchair. What if I dropped him? Whenever I got a call from the staff at the Nursing Home, I slid into an instant panic attack. I was constantly feeling tense, uptight, on edge. I was afraid of what the future would be like for me without him. Worse what if I got sick, and couldn’t go to see him? How would he cope alone?

When he died, a part of me died with him. I was so very sad. I felt like the bottom had just fallen out of my world. I no longer had him to care about and to do for. I felt totally worthless and alone. I lost interest in everything and everyone. I wanted everyone to just go away and leave me alone. I can understand how some people become suicidal. I’ve seen first hand what suicide does to a family left behind, and could never do that to those that I love. I certainly do, however, understand how someone could become that depressed.

I got so far behind at my job that I finally pleaded for someone to come and help me clean up the mess. I felt like such a failure. I found myself staring off into space for long periods of time. I couldn’t sleep for more than two or three hours at a time and needed a nap to get from morning to night. My boss suggested that I take a leave of absence for a couple of months. She said that she thought it was time I took care of “me” for a change.

I went to a Psychiatrist and he said that I had a lot of anxiety and was depressed. Duh! I knew that! What I wanted from him was a magic cure. I knew I was depressed dammit! Wasn’t he getting paid to fix it? Next, I started seeing a Psychotherapist to help me understand my feelings and moods.

My husband died eight months ago. It has taken me a long time, but I am finally healing myself. Yesterday I actually laughed out loud. Today I hugged my brother without starting to cry. Someone told me once that “the light at the end of the tunnel isn’t always a train.” I guess maybe they were right after all. I am finally beginning to see some light in my life and I don’t hear any train whistles.