Sadness. Anxiety. Shame. Hopelessness. Fear. Overwhelmed. Exhaustion.
In any given day, I may feel all of these.
On the outside, most people would never know. I get up each morning, get myself and my child dressed, take my child to school, and then go to work. I’m a reliable, hard-working employee. I work hard to be the best mom and wife that I can be. But, I have depression and anxiety. Those two things make all of the above REALLY hard.
For me, I’ve dealt with depression on and off since my early teen years. Mental health issues run fairly rampant on my mom’s side of the family, so while some situations make things better or worse, this is a genetic issue that I will likely deal with forever. More recently, I’ve added some pretty severe anxiety to the mix.
There are many days that I just want to pull the covers back over my head and sleep all day. I have days at work where I literally feel like I’m going to just burst into tears. It is an everyday struggle to overcome these feelings. And most days, I work really hard at it. Carrying the burden of depression and anxiety on top of maintaining a “normal” facade can be exhausting, and I’m tired of pretending.
As I’m slowly becoming more comfortable in my own skin and with the fact that I will likely be living with these two struggles for life, I’m learning to slowly unveil my mental health struggles. It’s just too much of a burden to hold it inside.
You know what I’m realizing? I am not alone. There are a lot of us out there struggling with the same thing. We just don’t talk about it. It’s taboo. We don’t want people to think we’re “crazy” or unstable.
But, here’s what any of us struggling with this must realize: It doesn’t make us less of a person. We aren’t crazy. A mental health condition is just something that has to be managed, similar to asthma or any other chronic health condition.
As I slowly unveil the real me, I’m beginning to feel a huge burden lifting from my shoulders. It’s refreshing not to have to hide it from everyone.
Am I shouting it from the rooftops? No. Obviously, this is an anonymous post. But, I’m taking steps to make it a more known part of the real me.
There is a harsh reality to becoming more transparent. There will always be people who don’t understand. Even those who judge and don’t truly believe these issues exist. That’s fine, I’m not necessarily trying to change the world’s perception of mental health issues . . . yet. Selfishly, I’m trying to change my world. But, hopefully sharing this here may help others out there who may be struggling with the same thing.
If any of this sounds like you, here’s my advice:
- Admit there’s a problem. This can often be the hardest part. There are various mental health screenings you can give yourself online to help you determine whether the feelings you are having are “normal” or if they would be better addressed by a professional. My advice: Err on the side of caution. If you are having consistent feelings of extreme anxiety, sadness, paranoia, etc., assume that there’s an underlying problem that can be fixed or managed.
- Seek professional help through a therapist/psychologist or psychiatrist. Psychologists and therapists will offer counseling and solutions for dealing with your emotions. That’s the first line of treatment. Depending on your particular situation, they may refer you to a psychiatrist who can prescribe medication that will also help. Again, just like a chronic medical condition, you may need medication to help you cope. That is okay. I will repeat this again, THAT IS OKAY!
- Find your people. In addition to seeking professional help, it can also be helpful to find others who may be dealing with similar feelings to yours. The only people that can truly understand your feelings are those who feel them as well. I admit, this is a tough one. But, again, once you become more comfortable with this, it will get easier to talk about it and I can promise you, you are not alone.
Since becoming more vocal about my struggles, I’ve been amazed at just how many people in my everyday life struggle with similar things. I’ll say it again: You are not alone. It just may feel that way.
If you’ve made it all the way through this article, thank you. Thank you for allowing me to share my feelings. If this sounds like you, I hope I’ve provided some reassurance.