As it is World Mental Health Day, and I find mental health, the conversation, and my experience with it so important, I thought I would share my experience with mental health, how it’s still hard to achieve and receive, and how we can fix this huge issue within our society.
I suffer from emotional and physical trauma and it has caused long-lasting effects on my mental health. It used to be much worse, and although I still suffer from depression, anxiety, and what I call triggering attacks, I am far healthier than I have ever been. My experiences range from one time not being able to get all of the bubbles out of the cell phone protection sleeve and having a full-blown panic attack to not being able to get out of bed. I didn’t seek medical help for this until I was in college, because growing up nobody around me talked about mental health. I was just overreacting to things or having a bad day. I turned to the internet, books, and movies to find ways to deal with my depression and anxiety. I tried so many different hobbies, trying to find a way to externalize the pain I was suffering from, versus doing what I had been doing, which was bottling it up until I exploded and then becoming numb to everything. I started to do my own research and discovered that what I was suffering from was actually more serious and I needed to do something about it.
The first therapist I went to didn’t really help me all that much. I am self-aware and have always practiced mindfulness on a daily basis, so the “let’s get at the heart of your issues” wasn’t helpful because I already knew where they derive from, I needed someone to help me change my patterns of thought and how to deal with triggering situations or moments of panic.
My next experience was going straight to medicine & although the anti-anxiety and anti-depression medicine did work, I could tell that it was just masking the issue, and unfortunately therapy is not affordable for me. Even with the insurance I have, I still cannot afford to go. Fortunately, I have found other ways to deal with my issues & have grown to be able to handle it. A huge part of this journey was meeting my fiance. He has been the first person in my life that fights this fight with me. He doesn’t completely understand what it feels like, how could he? But he doesn’t ever make me feel insane or let me hurt myself or put myself down. That support, positivity, and confidence building has been a huge factor in my healing.
Another part of my journey is realizing it’s a daily battle, and letting it just be that. Every day I try to be good to myself. I find traditions and routine help a lot with my mind battles. If there is order in my external world, I can focus and keep the bad thoughts at bay. It’s when there is an overload and things are chaotic that I lose my balance and can be easily triggered into a manic state. It happens still, at least once or twice a month, which is a huge win, as before, I would suffer from attacks once a week.
I need to give my partner so much credit for being the best he can be for me. There are times when he could say something and I would laugh but there are times when that same thing would cause a frenzy in my life. The stages are anger, intense burning anger, then complete numbness — when I am deep in my negative thoughts, and these negative thoughts say horrible things, such as…you’re the worst, no one cares about you, you are ruining everything, you don’t belong, so on and so on. Then I break down, I cry until there is nothing left, and then things start to be okay again. Honestly, I do not think that I would have been able to handle all of my…stuff…without him. I would have to go to therapy and it would have to be a priority and figure out how to pay for it. I know that.
For me, I need to accept that some things are out of my control, and that my world will not crash by making mistakes, or by making the wrong choice, or by not being able to design and control everything around me. I try to have contingency plans for everything, and that is part of being a Type A personality, but I have it to the extreme. Things are going to happen, and I need to not worry about all the ‘what if’s’ and be present and focused on each day.
I urge anyone suffering from any sort of mental illness to reach out to others, people you trust and feel safe around, people in a safe online environment, and trying to receive professional help. It’s so important to not keep these things to yourself and really get help from others. You and your mental health is important & you need to feel safe, loved, and taken care of…you deserve it!
I want this to be a safe haven for those who suffer from any sort of mental illness. We need to break down the social stigma around mental illness and have conversations about it. Most people suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder and it’s just a part of our lives. It’s nothing to hate, it’s something that just needs understanding, nourishment, and care. I can be one to provide that.
I love you all and your beautiful minds.