Mental health has become something so popularly talked about in the last 10 years. It seems to be on the rise! Does that mean more people are getting sick or that we’re just talking about it more?
Maybe a bit of both?
I’m currently doing my masters in counselling psychology and have always had a passion for studying and understanding mental health. Working in the mental health sector has always been my favorite and I hope to get back into it on a more full time basis. But never in my life did I think I would struggle with my own mental health as much as I have in the last year.
I think my mental health has always fluctuated. I was never officially diagnosed as depressed prior to this year, but I think I fell at times on the lower end of the spectrum. In my other blog a lot of it was spent writing about my self journey and learning to accept and love who I am. Because really, no one ever truly teaches you how to do this, but it’s expected that if you want to be “healthy and whole” you should be able to do this.
High school is tough and it’s a world where you feel like everything is life or death. One extreme to the next. It’s a world where you feel like you need to belong somewhere and if you don’t something is wrong with you. It’s a bit of a cruel world, especially if you aren’t confident and self assured. I look back now of course and realize a lot of the things I was upset about were pretty trivial and that there really is a life beyond those four walls, but at the time it’s so hard to see past that.
Now that I’m facing the battle I am, of course this seems more dramatic and far worse, but yet I feel more mentally stable now than I did months ago and of course years ago. Months ago I did experience my first anxiety attack. I experienced what depression could manifest into. And I felt like a failure. The woman who is literally studying to work and help people with their own battles can’t seem to get her own shit together. Who is going to listen to me?
But maybe because I’ve experienced it people will be more willing to listen to me?
Because I know what it’s like to not want to wake up and face whatever is ahead. I know what it’s like to just want to sleep because it’s kind of like a trial run of being dead and just checking out of life when you don’t want to (as gruesome as that sounds, not that I really want to die, but I like having the option of just not participating in life). I know what it’s like to feel like you have to keep it together for everyone else around you. To plaster a smile on your face and master the art of lying to the people closest to you and say “I’m great” when really you feel like you’re spilling and falling apart at the seams. I know what it’s like to feel irrational for being so upset, down, sad, anxious, ect. because really life is pretty good when you look at the grande scheme of things, but you can’t help how you feel. You just feel this way. Sometimes there doesn’t have to be a reason.
I know what it’s like to feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders and people tell you they want to help you, but you can’t bring yourself to do it. Whether it be because of shame, guilt, or just feeling like a burden. I know what it’s like to deny that you aren’t okay. To spend so much time convincing yourself that you are fine that eventually you start to believe it. But it comes back full circle and when it does, sometimes it becomes worse and more overwhelming than it was in the first place.
I want to tell you it get’s easier. That one day you won’t feel that pain. But I can’t guarantee that.
I can tell you that some days will be easier. That some days you will feel like you can conquer the world. But you will also have really rough days. And those days can really suck. I can also tell you that sometimes life works out in your favor and this really helps your progress, but life also throws you curve balls. There will be times where you will feel like you’ve taken 3 steps forward and 5 steps back. I can also tell you that some people really suck, because they just don’t get it. If you told them you broke your arm they would probably sympathize with you, wish you well, and maybe even send you get well gifts. But if you told them that you were depressed, they might tell you “it’s mind over matter” “have you tried exercising” “maybe you should get some pills” “maybe if you ate better”. They’ll blame you. But I’m here to tell you it’s not your fault. You didn’t ask for this to happen and when you are ready you will find a way to help yourself with the support of others who do care. Not everyone is terrible in this world. Some people do understand. Some people have been there. You are not alone.
Really, you’re not. I know it can be a very isolating experience. I’ve completely isolated myself several times because it did feel so overwhelming and lonely. I felt alone within a crowd and thought no one would ever understand so why bother? It’s almost like a default mode to think this way. But with the help of others and myself, we get through each time I’m down and work towards getting better.
Right now I can proudly say I am doing good so far mentally. I feel strong. I feel capable. But I still have my moments, especially during bad flares.
Don’t be afraid to be a voice in this community. More people need to talk about it. Not just people like me who suffer from a chronic illness. Anyone can suffer from mental illness. Be a voice. Because some people aren’t ready to use theirs and that’s okay. But you never know who you might inspire or connect with. There is nothing to be ashamed about. As the saying goes: It’s okay to not be okay.