This post won’t be all rainbows and sunshine, and it definitely won’t be glamorous. I always intended to write this post but I didn’t think I would write it so soon.
I’ve been struggling with anxiety and depression since I was 15 years old. Over the past six years, I’ve experienced a lot of ups, some downs, some more ups, and even more downs. But through all of that, I’ve learned a lot about life and I have only gotten stronger. My intention is that this post may hopefully start a dialogue, and inspire someone else to embrace their story. So if you’re fighting a battle with anxiety or depression, this is my advice to you.
You aren’t your mental illness.
When you’re struggling with something so life-consuming it can be difficult to differentiate yourself from who you really are and what you’re up against. But I want you to know, this may be apart of you, but it’s not who you are. You are so much more than your anxiety, your depression or your eating disorder. What makes you who you are is a combination of all the things that make you unique. The things that make you laugh. The way you take your coffee in the morning. Your favorite book that sits on your nightstand. Those are the things that make you, YOU. Don’t let your mental illness become a part of your identity.
There is no shame.
With mental illness there comes so much confusion and shame. Why do I feel this way? Why can’t I be normal? It’s so easy to internalize everything you’re feeling and just want to hide. Because no one wants to feel this way. No one wants to tell the people they love that they’re hurting and they need help. But there’s no shame in having a mental illness. If the topic wasn’t such a taboo I think we would find that more people are suffering than we ever realized. We may be a silent community, but there is still strength in numbers. Be open and be honest, and you’ll see that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Don’t let society shame you.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
One of the bravest, and scariest, things you can do is to ask for help. For so long I avoided asking for help because in my mind that confirmed my worst fear. By taking medication or seeing a therapist it would mean that I really did have a problem. So it was much easier for me to go about my daily life pretending that there wasn’t a problem at all. But by avoiding the issue we only feed it more until it grows out of our control.
Confide in someone. Find a good friend who can hold you accountable. Be honest to the people in your life about what you’re going through. See a counselor. Talk to your doctor about getting on the appropriate medication. The best thing you can do for yourself is swallowing your pride and seeking help. You deserve it.
Recovery is a long and bumpy road.
Once you decide to get better, don’t think it will be a straight shot. Anything worth fighting for won’t be easy. On my journey, I’ve experienced a lot of setbacks. Some setbacks were so bad that I felt completely helpless, and I thought I was too far gone. But if there’s one thing I’m most proud of myself for, it’s my determination. I never wanted to dwell in the setbacks; I wanted to learn from them and move forward. So don’t punish yourself if you experience some rough waters. Be kind to yourself and make the decision to keep pushing forward. No matter how difficult it may be.
This post only skims the surface of everything I could say about anxiety and depression. Mental illness is painful, and even debilitating at times, but it doesn’t have to consume you. You are special. You have been created with a unique purpose by a God who loves you infinitely. You have friends, family members and cute little animals who love you so much and want you on this earth.
If there’s anything I hope to achieve with this blog it’s this: Opening up a dialogue for mental illness and lifting the taboo that surrounds it. If you’re hurting and feel hopeless with no one to talk to, I invite you to reach out to me. I’m here for you and we’ll get through this together.