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  • Writer's pictureJim Neuburg

An Introvert’s Struggles with Anxiety, Depression and Addiction

Updated: Mar 12

I can’t tell you how it happened. There wasn’t one singular, devastating, traumatic event that made me the way I am. I don’t know how or why anxiety and depression took over my life. I wish I did know. It would definitely make it easier for me to explain why I am the way I am, to others and to myself. Maybe I was born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline™️.

As far back as I can remember, I’ve lived with anxiety and depression. I may not have been diagnosed back then, but looking back there is little doubt in my mind. I never felt like the other kids. I definitely never felt like I belonged. It felt like everyone could see through me and know that I was broken inside. I tried so hard to be like everyone else. I felt like I needed to be what other kids, my family and society expected me to be. I didn’t know there was a word to explain why I was different from everyone else. 


I will be discussing these issues and more on a new show launched by Dawn Helmrich and Neil Parekh, “Shining Light on Shadows: A Candid Conversation About Mental Health.” We’ll be live Thursday, March 14 at 7pm ET / 6pm CT on Facebook, Twitter,* LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram* and Neil’s website. If you can’t watch the show live, you can always watch it later, on the same links, at your convenience.


Back then, words like “introvert” weren’t used very often. I didn’t understand why other people wanted to be surrounded by a bunch of other people all the time. Social anxiety has always been a problem for me, not to mention my general anxiety disorder and my OCD. 

I believe depression was something that gradually crept in, slowly becoming a part of me. It really became predominant in my pre-teen/early teen years. That’s about the time I discovered alcohol. 

For an introvert, alcohol was just what I needed to be a “normal” person. I was able to be someone I was not. I was extroverted, confident and happy. Unfortunately it was all a lie and I was actually none of those things. I definitely wasn’t happy. From about the ages of 14 to 32, I was able to fool myself and ended up deep in the depths of despair and addiction. 

It was a horrible place to be. My anxiety and depression reached heights I could never have imagined. At the peak of my alcoholism, I was having severe panic attacks, suicidal thoughts and hearing voices. Dealing with these things while being a practicing alcoholic was near impossible. I found myself falling deeper and deeper into insanity. 

However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to stop, but I still had to deal with my mental illnesses. 

Celebrating 20 years of sobriety, I’m here to testify and tell my story. 

Living with my depression and anxiety is a daily struggle. Being sober allows me to look at myself from all angles now. Sometimes I like what I see, but still, often, I do not. Through proper medication, I’m able to maintain my focus. I’m very grateful to have a partner that not only accepts my struggles, but understands them. My mental illnesses are easier to deal with having the support and love she gives me. However, it is still a daily struggle and I know I’m a constant work in progress. I can honestly say, however, that at 51 years of age, I’m the best version of myself yet.

*We won't know the exact urls for Twitter and Instagram until we go live. These links go to Neil's main Twitter page and Dawn's main Instagram page respectively.


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