Earlier this week I was having a conversation with one of my best friends Helene about mental health and how far I’ve come with mine.
At sixteen years old I began to feel a subconscious awareness that the excessive uneasiness I felt about a considerable amount of things was abnormal. When you feel these things at such a young age, it’s definitely nerve-wracking to sort out how to address it. It didn’t make it any easier that there was a mountain of stigmas blocking the way to me figuring out how to feel better.
There is a mass of stigmas that exist about mental health and disorders that hold up people from focusing on their better purpose in life. It’s a sad truth that most individuals at some point in their lives have been blamed for their conditions. They’re made to believe that their symptoms are “just a phase” and a product of their own choices.
This is the unyielding power of stigmas. For so many who already are carrying the heavy burdens of their emotions, it’s a damaging addition to the pain they’re already going through.
Despite my background awareness of what my mind was going through, I couldn’t bring myself to go see anyone about it.
What would people think of me? If I go talk to someone, am I admitting to myself and everyone else that I’m crazy?
The only thing crazy about me was the fact that I took so long to finally do something.
I had let my anxiety seep into every aspect of my life and control what I did and how I reacted to it. I constantly was tense and felt an overwhelming disquiet within the realm of my emotions.
I cried too much, and then I couldn’t cry at all. Not until everything I had bottled up had burst open into my consciousness. So I would end up on my bedroom floor, screaming and crying with no way of sorting out how I could end the attack of emotional pain that seemed endless.
My anxiety ruled so many parts of me that it gave way to depression. I couldn’t feel anything anymore. Things that would easily excite me didn’t do much for me, and in front of family and friends, I had a very hard time playing as if everything was okay.
I got to a point that I had enough. I couldn’t allow myself to be this way anymore. At what now feels like the absolute right time, I was told the life changing words that began my journey into properly managing my mental health:
“You go to the doctor when you get sick. If there are imbalances in your brain that make it not work as it should, how different is seeing a therapist than seeing a doctor for when you’re not feeling well?
From hearing those words, I felt courageous. After six years of trying to keep my anxiety and depression suppressed on my own, I finally decided to go see a therapist.
After years of having slight notions of what my mind was going through, it came as a relief for my therapist and psychiatrist to confirm it for me. This wasn’t just something I was “going through” this was an imbalance in my brain.
I’ve come to accept how I’ve been scientifically designed – I’ll never be perfect. I can’t say that I’m always going to have good days, but the good days I have I try to make the best out of. Every experience of my life has contributed to where I’m at with my mental health. Through my journey I’ve learned that rejecting the cards that life has dealt for me does nothing to better my head space.
It’s been two years since I’ve started going to therapy, and I can say that I am in a much healthier head space than I was before I started. In the moment, taking that step to take care of myself was so incredibly terrifying. But I don’t want to just exist in life as someone who is tense and unfeeling, I want to live and feel every experience as deeply as I can.
Everything I experience is a part of me. The good, and the bad. Through my journey I’ve learned that without either, I wouldn’t know how to be me.