Mental Health Check-in/Normalizing Mental Illness

We are such stuff as dreams are made on and our little life is rounded with a sleep.

William Shakespeare

To be honest, I’m not quite sure what exactly this post will be about. I just feel like writing, so I guess this will be a little mental health check-in for me, for you, for everyone. This will also be a little bit about normalizing mental illness, and how it’s okay to talk about how it affects you. Let’s jump right in. First off, mental health check-in. I’ll tell you how I’ve been doing the past few weeks, and hopefully it will lead you to have a small check-in with yourself. Ask yourself how you’ve been feeling, and if you’ve noticed anything different about your moods (both positive and negative). I think that checking in with yourself is like taking a small step back & just taking a minute. We all need that every now and then. Also, my Instagram DM’s are always open, if you ever need anyone to talk to, I’m a safe space & ally. I feel like my moods have been very up and down the past few weeks. Winding down from the holidays is always challenging. I’m a person who needs to have something to look forward to, even if it’s small. So once the excitement of the holidays is over, it can be hard for me. January, February, and March are by far my toughest months. Seasonal depression is a very real thing, and a lot of people struggle with it. If you’re one of those people, please know that you are not alone, and warmer & brighter days are ahead. My brother also went back up to school last week, and I miss him. I feel like a piece of me is missing when he’s gone. I don’t necessarily handle change very well, so it always takes a little bit of time for me to feel 100% after something changes, like my brother leaving. Something else I’ve been struggling with recently is negative self talk. I always try to give myself positive affirmations, but I have noticed that the way I’ve been talking & thinking to myself has been negative. I don’t really know why. I think I just go through times like that. But it’s really hard, and often times it’s hard to come out of it. I’m getting there though. Therapy the other day was really tough. I thought about it for a long time afterwards. It was the first time I admitted to someone other than myself that I’m afraid that my life isn’t going to turn out the way that I want it to. It’s something that has weighed very heavy on my mind the past week. I want a family. I want a husband, I want kids. And for some reason I’ve been absolutely terrified that it won’t happen for me. I guess I feel like I’m behind in some way. That certain things should have happened already. And then I have to remind myself that I’m only 22 and exactly where I’m supposed to be in my life. It’s that rational vs irrational thing again. I have to believe that my person is out there, that I’ll get the family I have always dreamed of. I have to believe because I couldn’t get through the ups & downs of life if I didn’t. But some weeks are harder than others. And that’s okay. Now I feel like switching over to positive things I’ve experienced these past couple of weeks. I really try to show both negatives, positives, ups, and downs of living with mental and chronic illness. I always want to be completely real and honest, which is why I talk about both bad and good things. Now, for some positives. A month ago I bought two 3-month-old guinea pigs. My therapist recommended getting a small emotional support animal, and now here we are. Their names are Moira and Twyla (this is what happens when you binge Schitt’s Creek and it becomes your new favorite show lol). They are the cutest things ever and I really didn’t know how much I was going to love them. They’re another reason to get out of bed in the morning, and I’m so happy I have them. And now let’s talk about probably the most exciting thing from these past few weeks. My cousin is getting married, and she asked me to be her maid of honor. I’m so incredibly honored and I can’t wait for the planning, the memories, and of course the wedding itself. I think as you get older you realize the people who are there for you through thick and thin, no matter what. My cousin Zion is one of those people, one of my best friends, and my rock. I’m so excited to stand next to her on her special day. While I’ve struggled with a lot of new things recently, there’s also so much good to be grateful for. And that isn’t lost on me. I want to switch gears now and move onto normalizing mental illness. It was recently Bell Let’s Talk day, which is day to bring awareness to those struggling with their mental health, and to open up the conversation surrounding it. I have never been afraid to share my story. I think that my story gives me strength, and by sharing it I know that I’m helping people. I also want to say before I dive into this next topic, that I’m not trying to downplay depression & anxiety by trying to normalize it. They are serious, and they need to be treated. I’m simply trying to normalize what people suffering from it go through, so we don’t feel so alone. I think that the conversation surrounding mental illness should be normal, it should be an everyday discussion, because it isn’t something to be ashamed of. So that’s what I mean by “normalizing” it. I’m going to be really vulnerable right now in the hopes it makes at least one person feel more comfortable. I’m going to describe what happens to me in a depressive episode, because I know other people struggle with the same exact things, but might be afraid to say it out loud. I go days and days without showering. I wear the same clothes over and over again. I don’t brush my teeth. I don’t have energy. I don’t have motivation. I can’t concentrate. I’m angry. I’m scared. I’m mad at myself for being this way. I lash out at people. I ignore my friends. I lose myself completely. And truthfully, I need a lot of help pulling myself out of it. I’m putting this all out there because it’s real. And I know I’m not the only one who experiences these things. I know that it can be embarrassing to talk about, which is why I’m doing it. If you’re reading this and go through the same things, I hope you know that you’re not alone. In October I had to increase my antidepressant. I’m not ashamed to say that I had to, and if I didn’t do it, I don’t know what kind of place I’d be in now. It’s okay to need medication. It’s also okay if you don’t. Do whatever works for you, and never apologize for putting yourself first. I know I say it all the time, but we really are all just doing the best that we can. And I think that’s brave. I’m going to leave you with a quote from Us Against You by Frederik Backman (shocking, right?). I think it sums up how I genuinely feel about other people, especially those who struggle like me. “I wish you courage. I wish you rushing blood. A heart that beats too hard. Feelings that make everything too hard. Love that gets out of control. The most intense adventures. I hope you find your way out. I hope you’re the kind of person, who gets a happy ending.”

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