“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”Henry David Thoreau
At the beginning of 2019, I felt myself start to lift out of a severe state of depression. To be honest, I had been living in a mental health emergency for the last 5 years and I had been through trauma after trauma in that time. Every time I would think I was getting my head above water, another wave would take me down. I was tired of drowning. My way of existence had become unsustainable and I knew that if I had any chance of surviving the rest of this life, I needed to get right with myself. And the soul searching began…
I started sifting through this big brain of mine, sorting through all of the thoughts and feelings. How did I get so far from who I wanted to be and how do I get back? I had started to reflect on how I have let other people treat me in my life and I decided to start setting boundaries for myself and cutting ties with people who were more hurtful than helpful. I finally found a depression medication that worked wonders. I started to explore my spiritual side and what it means to me and how I can apply it to my life to help myself grow and just be better. I started realizing that trauma is better worked through than shoved deep.
These were all positive developments, but there were also some traumatic and painful feelings that I was grappling with, as well. I felt let down. The previous 5 years had been, quite possibly, the worst of my life and it was also the first time that I looked up and found that I was completely alone. Several people that I loved (and had been part of my past support system) were suddenly behaving in painful ways that I didn’t understand. Amid my sickness, it caused me to flail. However, when I started to get better, I started to get ANGRY.
I realized that I had been punished in my sickness, by people that purportedly loved me; told that I was toxic, although it was *clear* that I was not well. I was judged by family members because I wasn’t responding to traumatic events the way they thought I should respond. Shunned and given ultimatums and unfair warnings of, “If you don’t do x, y, z, then we’re done.” I was gaslighted and was the topic of *many* conversations that I was not, in fact, present for. I found myself disappointed and soulfully injured, but I also felt a new fire inside of my belly.
I was tired of being misunderstood. I was TIRED of being mistreated. I was TIRED of being kicked around. I knew that there were more people like me; millions more. We have struggled our entire lives inside of an insufficient, and sometimes unjust, mental health care system. We have been saddled with a soul-crushing sadness. We sometimes live every day with sweaty palms, racing hearts, and shortness of breath; a perpetual sense of fear in the pit of our stomachs and gripping our hearts. We have been kicked while we were down because we were easy targets. We have been told we were toxic because we harsh the world’s mellow. I suddenly had an overwhelming desire to fight for them. For me. For us. For everyone who came before us and every poor soul who will come after us. We deserve better.
I started back to therapy and I started doing research on how to become an effective advocate for mental health/mental illness. In my research, I read the same thing, time and again…TELL YOUR STORY! I have and always will be a writer and telling my story is not something I’ve ever had an issue with. Hence, the birth of this blog. I launched the blog in May, at the start of Mental Health Month, and I immediately started telling my story. I wanted to start at the beginning because it all started at the beginning. So, each blog was dedicated to my mental health journey for each decade of my life.
Here’s where it gets complicated. Several blogs in, I started to notice that I was having anxiety almost all day, every day. I came to believe that a couple of things were happening.
- I was writing about intensely personal, traumatic experiences. My darkest hours and my deepest pains. I thought I would be fine. They were all things that I had talked about with family and friends before. However, it seems that the pressure of sharing those things with the world and who *might* read them became too much and I was essentially re-traumatizing myself
- I was also putting a TON of pressure on myself to write consistent and hard-hitting content several days a week, which is a pretty lofty goal for a beginner with a full time day job and a family, and I became overloaded and overwhelmed in my goals. This is a common theme in my life and I now know why, but we’ll get to that later.
I spoke with my therapist and, on her advice, I decided to rest the blog for a while. If you were reading in the Spring, then you know that that is where I left you. I didn’t get through my mental health story and that’s ok. In fact, before I started writing today, I archived those old blog posts. Maybe that story is for another time…or maybe it’s better to let it come, piece by piece, instead of poured out all at once.
A lot has happened over the Summer and I fully intend on writing about it. After the last 3 months, I feel, more strongly than ever, a desire to speak out, to tell my story, to fight for change, to smash through stigmas.
I hope this update reaches you all well. I had a small group of family and friends that were supporting me back in May and cheering me on and reading every blog and I love you guys so much for that. It means so, so much to know that I am supported and loved.
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