Let's Talk Mental Health
I am getting a little vulnerable today.
I've mentioned this a few times in my previous posts, but my Sophomore year of High School was one of the hardest years I have ever experienced. I had difficult classes, lots of changes in my friend group, as well as anxiety and depression. With such major mental health issues this year, it was easy for me to fall behind in class, and I did not have to motivation to catch up until the last possible second. I stopped doing the things I loved, stopped reaching out to friends, and lost all of the passion I once had. The year caught me off guard, and it's taken me a long time to reorient myself.
There is such a stigma around mental health and I'm tired of it. I've let it control the way I viewed myself this past year, I've let it control who I talked to and when. Today I'm going to try and rid some of that stigma in my life. I'm going to be completely honest about anxiety, depression, and mental health in general. I am scared that people will view me differently. Or treat me differently. Or pity me. I am scared that people will think I make excuses for the way I act. I am scared that people will think I am begging for attention.
I am going to ignore these fears because it is more important to talk about mental health and to encourage those of you who may be struggling, than it is to let fear control me.
Mental illness can affect anyone at anytime. Please understand that. Mental illness does not pick and chose based on one's situation. If you find yourself struggling with anxiety or depression, you do not need to feel guilty because you have a good life in comparison to others. With a mental illness, your brain literally functions differently. Take the human heart for example, an organ that is vital for our survival. Yet despite the importance, it can still malfunction. The difference between a healthy heart and an unhealthy heart are very apparent both in the way they appear and the way they function. Our brains are the exact same way. A healthy brain functions differently than a depressed brain. Just because you cannot see a mental illness, does not mean it's not there. Mental illness is a real thing, do not feel weak because you are burdened with it. This situation will only make you stronger.
If you feel as though you may have a mental illness, please talk to someone. You hear that in every health lesson in school, and for good reason. It is so unexplainably hard to overcome or manage a mental illness without the help of someone you trust, a therapist, or a strong support system. I am lucky because my family supports me and knows the importance of therapy. I first starting going to therapy towards the end of fourth grade, I had such bad anxiety that I wouldn't go to school. As a nine year old, I was terrified to tell a stranger everything I was feeling, and why I didn't want to go to school, or why I couldn't fall asleep. I speak from experience when I say that the fear of going to a therapist is easier to overcome than the unexplainable fear of yourself. When I first had anxiety, I didn't know why I would cry before school, or why I hated it when my parents left. I had no idea what had happened to me and the love for life I once had. I didn't know why my mind didn't feel like mine anymore. That fear was so much worse than facing my apprehension towards therapy.
After going to therapy for about two years, I was able to take a break and go when I felt I needed it. From 7th grade to Freshman year, I would go occasionally to check in and make sure all was well with my mental health. When my anxiety came back Sophomore year, I was able to go back the minute I felt I needed to, and I'm so glad I did. Going to therapy helped me rewire the way I think to make myself stronger in the face of anxiety and depression, because over the years, my anxiety had found a way to creep in again. I learned that my anxiety is primarily based off of not being good enough, or the fear of failure. These past few months I have been learning to let go of perfectionism and the constant pressure I once put on myself.
I learned so much more about myself and my mental illness this past year, and while it wasn't exactly enjoyable, per say, I am so glad I went through it. I wouldn't be the person I am today if I didn't have a mental illness that constantly challenges me and constantly shows me how much stronger I am than I thought.
((I have so much more to say about this topic, let me know if you found this helpful in the comment section or shoot me an email! It helps a bunch.))