World Mental Health Day
So I haven't blogged in months. I haven't been able to blog in months. This summer, while the sun was shining, and birds were chirping... I was struggling with a major depressive episode. Heading into fall, I really wanted to engage more with my blog but still found myself struggling to find the will power to create.
However, today is World Mental Health Day; and I saw this as a great time to be honest with my own mental health struggles.
For those who don't know, I was diagnosed with Anxiety Disorder and Depression when I was a junior in high-school. If you were to tell me back in 2016 that this would be information I would one day feel comfortable enough to share on the internet; I wouldn't have believed you. My diagnosis of Depression and Anxiety was extremely isolating. I felt crazy and out of control. I felt as though any chance I had at "normalcy" was out of the window. I felt defective.
If I could describe Anxiety into an experience... imagine, stressing all day about a test, being unable to focus on studying because your brain has catastrophized the task at hand to seem unmanageable, and then being unable to fall asleep because you feel that come morning you'll be a failure. Now, pair that experience simultaneously with Depression. After being awake all night, unable to study, and probably having an anxiety attack or two; you finally fall asleep at 5/6am. Physically, you can't wake up and take your test. So when you do finally wake up in the afternoon the feelings of being failure seem to tie your to the bed.
That experience is applicable to any situation, not just school. Socially making plans you want to be apart of but that you physically can't attend because Depression and Anxiety consume all your energy. Or even something as small as cleaning your room or washing your hair... Anxiety makes the task unmanageable thus unaccomplished; and depression makes you feel worthless for not completing the the task.
The cycle repeats, and repeats itself everyday; until it consumes you and you lose track of how long you've felt this way.
The negativity, and isolation I felt around my diagnoses followed me until I was a sophomore in college. It took a failing semester freshman year for me to open my eyes to the fact I could not wish nor will away my illnesses. I could not stop my brain from spiraling into an anxiety attack or depressive episode. I could not pray my brain into hoping my suicidal thoughts would stop. I could not hope and wish myself into being "normal."
I loved my university, and I knew that was where I wanted to be. However, what you know logically and what you feel emotionally DO NOT always align. So at 18, I decided to work to align what I knew, and what I felt.
I challenged myself to try and be healthier and happier. I determined myself to learn to love the person I was born as; and that is a person with Depression and Anxiety. As someone who also suffered from Asthma, I would never deny myself an inhaler if my chest was tight. So, I stopped denying myself the medications my brain needed to have the proper chemical levels. I stopped feeling like a failure because I needed accommodated testing conditions. I stopped comparing my normal, to societal standards of normalcy. I stopped hiding from my peers that I see a therapist every week.
Now, I don't want this to just seem like one day I woke up, and willed myself into being healthier. I must repeat, because none of this was easy... that I CHALLENGED MYSELF. Every day was different and brought new challenges. Some days, I layed in bed, depressed, and sobbed; sometimes multiple days in a row. However, the real challenge was learning to accept and love myself and all my challenges.
The real challenge I am still trying to accomplish. However, with every day and every therapy session it gets a little easier and more manageable. When you start to feel better, it becomes easier to continue to feel better, do better, and do more!
My solemn advice for damn-near every human being is to go to therapy. The growth I have experienced emotionally, mentally, socially, and professionally make therapy priceless. I have learned how to cope with my diagnosis, how to be productive, and how to be happier. Do not deny yourself access to doctors, medication, or anything that will help you process mentally or emotionally.
In our society we ostracize and isolate people with mental illnesses. We paint it as a deficiency in the person. However, if my leg was broken you would tell me to get a cast; and if I was a diabetic you would encourage me to take insulin. THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE IN MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES!
In closing, please get the help you need to be the happiest and highest functioning person you can be. You are not alone. You are stronger than your diagnosis. You are normal in every way you were meant to be. I am hoping this very long post can help someone. I hope it will encourage people to find a good therapist. I hope it will help me feel less anxious, and allow me to get back to creating. Finally, I hope that on World Mental Health Day you take a moment to check-in on yourself; and show yourself some love.
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Bye with Grace