There are many things I want to accomplish through my writing. Creating a safe place of understanding, honesty, and humility is at the top of that list.
I’ve written about my quarter-life crisis and best/worst times with the intention of being as transparent as possible for the outsiders looking in at my “glamorous” life. So, I suppose I’ll start by just laying it out there.
There is this preconceived notion that people dealing with depression and anxiety (and plenty of other mental illnesses) are always sad, angry, stress balls, assholes, etc. But what about the people who still manage to let their light shine through most of the darkness that surrounds them?
I’m not sure what everyone’s mental battles have looked like, but here is a little peep into mine:
- Feeling disconnected from family and close friends
- Constantly questioning one’s purpose and walk in life — not in a way that has ever been threatning to my physical self, but in a philosophical what the fuck is the point of anything kind of way
- Appearing dodgy to friends because I would bail on plans, not because I didn’t want to be around them, but because I couldn’t drag myself out of my apartment
- Becoming overly self-conscious in social situations
- Getting pissed off at anyone who complained often about the smallest (and what I self-righteously thought of at the time as insignificant) things because of the immense amount of actual problems in the world
- Blankly staring at a wall for hours
- Experiencing frequent panic attacks — shortness of breath, chest tightens, throat feels like it’s closing up, fear/panic sinks in, tears start streaming and becoming inconsolable
- Finally reaching out for help because I felt crazy, like something was wrong and I had no idea what it was or how to explain it
Would you assume that I have struggled with debilitating anxiety and depression if you didn’t know me well? Even if you do know me well, did you know the extent of my dimmest days? If you met me at the bar I once tended, did you imagine me peeling myself off the floor after crying for hours and struggling to breathe, just in time to make it for my shift? When I bailed on coffee dates or meeting up for a drink with friends, did they think that maybe it was because I couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed or that I was trying to shake myself out of a panic attack?
Some people have dealt with anxiety disorders for their entire lives. Others, myself included, are triggered by environmental factors such as a traumatic life event.
After my dad’s logging accident in 2014, I found it difficult to relate to others. I lost interest in many things I always enjoyed. My spiritual life plummeted, and just as things started looking up, we experienced his brother’s death, followed by my grandmother’s. In the middle of all this, I graduated from college, moved six times in two different countries, changed jobs three times, and fell in love with someone I felt (and most days still feel) undeserving of.
You may be wondering why in the HELL I am bringing any of this up, but I am wondering why the hell most of you aren’t. I’m not “airing my dirty laundry”. I’m participating in a conversation that needs to be had; I’m letting those of you reading this know that you’re not the only one with issues. You are not alone in the battle within yourself, and you’re not the only one with shadows beneath the ever-increasing highlighted photos of Instagram.
We currently live in a [first] world in which the societal norm is to show the world how happy and successful we are. There is a constant pressure to put your best foot forward and a huge lack of sympathy for those who show anything less. So, how do we move forward as a society that has created this modern realm of social standing, bullying, and mind-fuckery?
I wish we had a definitive answer for this. Maybe one day we will. As for now, I think it’s as important as ever to discuss mental health, and how we can start evolving into a culture that takes mental health as seriously as physical health (although, that could use immense improvement as well).
With each passing day, we become increasingly warped by #facebookhappy bullshit and lose sight of reality—ours and everyone else’s. We assume that because people post cheesy photos that all is well in their lives, and we convince others the same about ourselves.
As an aspiring blogger and content creator, I get extremely discouraged knowing that the majority of “successful” digital entrepreneurs make a friggin’ killing by telling other people how cool they are, and how cool/successful their audiences could be if they followed in their footsteps. This is not now, and (Lordt help me) will never be my intention. My first and foremost goal is to help others discover and embrace their best qualities and RUN LIKE HELL with them while showing them my struggles that inevitably accompany my successes.
Of course, I will share my highlight reel with others. However, I will ALWAYS follow it up with a spoon full of humility. I know my value and my strengths, but I know the skeletons in my closet by first, middle, and last name. I can even tell you how many hairs are on each of their heads. I’m human. I screw up and make mistakes, but like anyone else, all I can do is learn from them and move on. I will not encourage others to be like me, but I will ALWAYS encourage them to recognize and embrace their best selves.
If you are currently having a difficult time finding your best self or struggling with anxiety and/or depression, you truly are not alone. Unfortunately, the “rub some dirt on it” mentality still prospers in our culture, but it isn’t effective or sustainable. It’s detrimental.
If you or a loved one is in need of help or guidance, there is no shame in reaching out to someone or seeking therapy. It is much wiser to try to gain an understanding of what is happening and how to manage it than to let it rule your life.
I am still learning how to deal with the hard days, the sneak attacks, and the sadness that comes with living. I wish I had some astounding advice to give you, but I am not a healthcare professional and I have no business telling you how to treat or deal with your issues (and I HIGHLY recommend you don’t trust bloggers without credentials who also have NO business giving you medical advice). I am only here to tell you that despite the glorious Instagram photos, my life with my beautiful husband, and kick-ass experiences, I wrestle with my own bloody demons, too. I’m not alone in this, and neither are you.
The Humble Lion