This may seem obvious for many, but for me, I never could handle the difference between the two. Any and all stress was an immediate existential crisis. What I mean by existential crisis is, you blame the stress on yourself. You think, there’s something wrong with me, and it’s ruining my life.
But there’s nothing wrong with you. You’re just legitimately stressed.
It’s important to catch exactly when this happens as well. Sometimes, an external event will happen that is beyond my control. For example, back when I was performing a security audit for Standard Notes, the reviewer underwent a sickness and would take weeks to get back to me. Getting the audit completed was the most important thing in the world to me at that point. It started out as stress: I need to get this completed asap. My company can’t continue operating without getting this completed. I literally can’t do anything else until this is done.
Day 3, and you still remember a little of why you originally became stressed out, but start finding new things to stress about. It starts spreading.
By Day 7, you all around feel like shit but have completely forgotten how it started, and now think that you are just inherently depressed, and begin questioning your life decisions.
Don’t. Do. That.
You are not depressed. You have not made bad decisions. There is nothing wrong with you. This all started because of some anticipation from an external event that has not yet been resolved. Anyone who underwent this same event would experience this same objective stress.
I repeated that to myself. And sure enough, after about one month of waiting, the audit was completed, the stress was resolved, and everything went back to normal.
Make sure you never forget why you started to get stressed in the first place. And to make sure the original source is resolved before letting it spread. More than likely, there is nothing wrong with you. Anyone in your shoes would feel the same exact way. There is probably some external event that started all this, but you’ve lost track of it by now, and the stress has spread to every other area of your life that you think it’s always been like this. Worst of all, you start to think you probably deserve it.
Catch yourself. You’re not depressed. You’re just stressed. Or, at worst, you’re undergoing temporarily irresolvable stress. In which case, you just have to be patient. It’s hard, but hang in there.