You Might Be Surprised to Learn That I Have...
You might be surprised to learn that I have...
Anxiety & Depression.
It's not just a passing emotion. It's not just feeling down or stressed out. It's not just something you go through when times are hard. I've dealt with it my whole life and I deal with it every single day.
I have to stay on top of all the things I know I really need to keep my mental illness in check. I still need therapy. I still take medicine. I need 8 hours of sleep every night. I need to exercise. I need to go to church and read my scriptures and pray. I need to do service for others. I need to talk to friends and family. I need to do my mindfulness exercises. I need to have a clean, organized environment. I need to write in my journal. I need to get massages (no really, it helps). I need to feel like I'm learning and growing by reading books and trying new things. I need to express my creativity. I need music. I need sunlight. I need fresh air. I need to read books to learn more about my illness. It takes a lot of work and I am rarely able to do it all. So my depression and/or anxiety will rear it's ugly head random and inopportune times, like today.
So even though it's the ugly side of me I don't like to show people, I wanted to share in the hopes that maybe just one person will read this and feel like they aren't alone. Maybe someone will feel a little more understood. Maybe someone will read my list of the things I do to help myself and see one they haven't tried yet. Because I like to think that maybe sharing this will help someone out there. I know it would've helped me years and years ago when I knew something was wrong with me but I had no idea what it was. I felt lost. I felt alone. I thought no one liked me. I thought I was losing my mind. And the more I felt this way, the more I isolated myself and the worse it got. I was embarrassed and scared. I didn't want anyone to see. I didn't want anyone to know. But at the same time I was screaming for help on the inside. I had no coping skills and I was hurting myself to get the pain out of me. I took all the bad feelings and turned them into self hate and did anything to punish myself for not being better. For not just being the happy person I wanted to be. It got so bad I had panic attacks where I thought I was dying. It got so bad I was suicidal. I wanted to do the world a favor and just kill myself. I'm so glad I didn't. I never would've experienced the joy of true love. I never would've experienced the pure joy of being a mother. I never would've known how it felt to hold my baby in my arms with my heart so full I thought it might burst. I never would've felt the pride of seeing my children proudly proclaim, "look what I did Mommy!" But I did. And I got help. I got better. And now I have coping skills. I have an action plan for when those dark moments hit. I did it. And so anyone else can do it too.
If someone you love suffers from anxiety and/or depression, please learn as much about it as possible so you can help them. The worst thing you can say are little platitudes like, "cheer up", "don't worry", "this too shall pass", etc. It just makes them feel less understood and worse. Don't think they can get better if they just pray more or give service. Those things help but they aren't enough alone. That's like telling a diabetic they don't need their insulin, they just need to pray it away. Serious mental illness needs medicine and therapy. The best thing you can do is listen and validate. LISTEN & VALIDATE. It's not hard and you just might save their life.
Thanks for listening.
Here's a quick list of my coping skills:
Please leave comments with any more ideas that you have or anything that helps you.
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