Hello interwebs! Today I will be talking about a topic that is near and dear to my heart and I think it’s something that many other people will relate to as well.
Anxiety and other mood disorders affect five out of ten people in the United States. That’s a lot of people who might be struggling with the same issues, with little to nothing spoken about it and what it’s actually like. Today, I will be talking a little bit about my own journey with mental illness and some things I have found that have helped me continue to grow throughout high school.
Anxiety is a difficult beast to deal with. On certain days it feels like the world could end at any moment and other days it feels what I can only describe as depression. It is different for everyone and some people, like myself, have become very good at hiding symptoms because of the stigma of being seen as someone with a mental illness. In the last year, I have become very ” in touch” with my anxiety and have decided that in order to free others like me of their fear of rejection, I should open up and be proud to ” show my battle scars” as it were. Anxiety also has its own stigma, due to the fact that most I’ve talked to consider a normal part of life. I think the hard thing for people ( who aren’t closely involved in their own mental Illness or know the struggles of others) to understand is that we aren’t talking about normal, everyday, stress. This is something that is debilitating for most and is something that can often take the normal out of their lives.
On a more happy note I would like to share a few, somewhat philosophical ways of looking and treating anxiety that was helpful to me, and hopefully will be helpful to some of you out there. For starters, knowing as much as you can about Anxiety and any other related mood disorders is extremely helpful. I think better understanding what is happening to you on a neural level is pretty validating. It reminds you that what you are struggling with is real and that there are thousands of people that struggle with the same things, and to me, that was extremely comforting. Second, I found that having at least one person you can trust is crucial. Unfortunately, too often people with mental illnesses are surrounded by people who don’t and refuse to try to understand what they are going through. I had this struggle and so I sought out to find at least one person who wanted to understand what I am going through and that person, fortunately, was my boyfriend. Having that support has been crucial for me as I am just starting to figure out the ins and outs of what it means to me and what I can do to combat the symptoms.
Finally, as cheesy as this may seem I’ve found meditation to be extremely helpful. Trust me, it isn’t some ” let’s sit by the fire and sing Kumbaya. It’s basically me sitting on my bed with my eyes closed listening to medieval fantasy radio on Pandora. Focusing on breathing and then thinking about the things that make me anxious and thinking about their rational/irrational qualities. Generally speaking, I will always be an advocate for introspection, especially when it is a battle of you vs your mind.
Personally, my own battle with anxiety has been a long and winding road. I’ve been struggling with it for as long as I can remember but never understood what I was feeling. Middle school, in particular, was rough for me because ( for those that know generalized anxiety) you are constantly anxious about everything and filled with self-doubt and self-depreciating thoughts. Mix that in with middle school and you can’t help but have a bad time. In more recent history, like I mentioned earlier, I have learned a lot about what it means to have generalized anxiety and how I can find ways to combat symptoms without simply denying that they exist. I share this with whoever is reading, because I want people to become more aware about mental illness, and that just because you have a mental illness doesn’t mean you are any less capable for sucess, happiness, and a fullness of life that normal people seem to think they have the only key to. Though trust me when I say, It’s more fun to be weird.
Sorry for the super long post, but I really wanted to get a message like this on the blog. I think it is extremely important to continue talking about mental illness and to help people understand that not all mental illness is depression or schizophrenia. I hope that some of you can be helped by this and always feel free to email me if you need someone in your life to support you.
Like someone, I loved told me once long ago, ” If no one else in this world needs you I do”.
For inspiration I shall leave you with this rather wonderful message from my boyfriend; ” I’m not going to pretend I can change or repair things that have happened to you in your past with mere words. But I can present you with some of my seventeen-year-old wisdom. Things that happened to us in our past, like the things you just shared with me, while they may be unfortunate or demeaning or painful to remember, they are, as you said, a part of who we are. Considering all that you said has happened to you, you could have turned out to be a depressed, sad, shut in. But here you are, a sweet fun understanding, pretty and intelligent young woman who managed to make her way into my life of all things. So I think that is worth quite a lot.