Mental Health Awareness
In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month,
I’ve decided to talk a little bit about my own struggles with mental health. In my previous blog post, I briefly touched about mental health but didn’t really dive in. I’m going to start by saying, I cannot control what I’ve been through or how my brain is wired. This is a part of me but it doesn’t define who I am. I’ve decided to be vulnerable by writing this blog post. It has taken me a long time to talk about this particular topic because of the negative stigma surrounding mental illness. I was scared to tell people that I was in therapy. I think one of the hardest parts of depression for me is feeling like I have to put on a brave face to make sure the people around me are comfortable. Growing up, we were taught by society that “only crazy people go to therapy.” Truth is, therapy is life coaching and learning skills to cope with life in a healthy way. The fact that I have the opportunity to go to therapy and get help from my counselors as wonderful as mine is truly a blessing. As you read this post, I hope that you feel that you are not alone.
mental health can be a serious bitch!
There’s no course on how to get better because everyone’s struggles are different. No two cases are exactly the same. You have to do what’s right for you. Depression isn’t something that emerges overnight, but something that creeps in the shadows of your life for years, slowly building up its strength until it can rear its ugly head when you are at your most vulnerable, your weakest. Depression is a fickle sickness and when paired with anxiety feels like a constant battle. You want to stay in bed but your anxiety triggers an overwhelming feeling that you’re not doing enough.
I started going to therapy the summer between sixth and seventh grade. I remember being thirteen years old and wanting to die but not having a valid reason as to why. My brain was telling me that I wasn’t good enough, that no one loved me, that I would never amount to anything. There was nothing going on at this time in my life that could have contributed to this. It was just my depression. At the time, I had absolutely no idea what that meant or how to get better. I thank God every day that my parents made the decision to put me in counseling. I can’t imagine where I would be without it. I didn’t know that there was actually a chemical imbalance in my brain. I thought that there was something I did wrong or I was just a being pessimistic.
When I was fourteen years old, I started experiencing severe sharp pain throughout my body primarily manifesting in my spine. Because of this, I spent a lot of time in and out of doctor’s offices. Anytime I wasn’t at the doctor, I was home in bed. This was when my depression really kicked in. If you struggle with depression, you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s that feeling of “am I laying in bed because I’m depressed or is it because I don’t feel well?” Either way, I wasn’t getting out of bed. My body became so weak I could barely stand up in the shower.
Then high school hit.
And when I say hit, I mean it hit me like a bus.
I have faced a lot of trauma in the past four years. I’m not going to go into extreme detail at this time. Trauma that I’m still processing years later and figuring out how to move past. Not to say that there were not good things because there definitely were. But when you’re struggling with depression, it’s even more difficult to focus on the good. I remember being fifteen years old and feeling like I was drowning. Being sixteen and not wanting to live. Right after my seventeenth birthday my parents split up. This was my tipping point. I pushed everyone I loved away. Mental illness can affect relationships. I found every distraction possible because if I slowed down I would actually have to deal with what I’m feeling.. I worked twelve day shifts with one day off before I started again. I spent every waking moment out of my house with my friends. I was so distracted that I forgot to eat and lost almost forty pounds in three months. I wanted it to end. I wanted the pain to stop. I thought to myself,
the world would be better without me anyways so what’s the point in even trying?
My brain was screaming, “you’re never going to get past this so quit while you’re ahead.
There was a day last October where I got out of the shower and just stared at myself in the mirror. My eyes were caved in from not sleeping in weeks. I could see each of my individual ribs from the weight loss. I looked like a zombie. It was at this point where I realized what I was doing to myself. Not dealing with my pain was making me even worse. I thought that if I didn’t deal with any of it that it meant it didn’t happen. I thought if I pretended I was fine and moved on with my life then I would feel better. Not everyone is as lucky as I am. I have an amazing support system that I didn’t do anything to deserve. My mom put me on a plane to Colorado with my aunt and I stayed there for seven days. It was quiet there. I was alone with my thoughts. If you know me, you know that I journal more than I talk. I took my five of my journals from the last year in my suitcase. I sat on the porch with only the sound of the wind against the trees and the sound of the pages flipping. I read through every word. There were a few times I wrote about suicide. But without a doubt, every page ended with the words:
Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem
Depression is something I have to walk through every single day. Some days it’s like walking through water while other days it’s like trying to walk through a brick wall. The goal is to keep walking. I decided to share my story for the purpose of saying this, I am not perfect. I have real struggles and issues that I’m working through. You have to go through it to get through it. When it comes to trauma and hard times, there’s no getting around it or you will never heal. I can honestly say that things get better. I’m living proof. My situation hasn’t changed, but my outlook on life has. Trust the process.