I struggle with anxiety and OCD – and not because an online quiz told me. I was diagnosed as a young adult, but have fought this battle for as long as I can remember.
BAM! How’s that for an opener?
I was always super self-conscious about admitting to other people that I dealt with these things because I was afraid of what they would think. That it would make me less of a person and more of a statistic –
“Oh my god, what will they think?”
“Will I still be allowed to do certain things?”
“Does it make me a bad mom, wife, daughter, sister, friend?”
Sometimes those thoughts are still my elephant in the room. For the longest time I hid it all from the world and the people I trusted and loved. Since I had been hurt before by some of those same people who made comments or dismissed how I felt, my confidence was shattered for years.
The words “mental illness” were bullied – so I bundled up my seemingly irrational fears and obsessions and sadness and hid.
It wasn’t until the last five years of my life that I really found my voice. I came out to more people about what I had been dealing and continue to deal with. I am still very guarded with myself. It’s not easy to open up the most vulnerable parts of your mind to others, but I have. I let it be known and I have people I can talk to.
Now, it’s just another path I walk. Sometimes it’s flat pavement and sometimes it’s mountains.
But let me be real – the stigma surrounding mental illness is very real and it’s still out there in so many ways. So I say, not-so-politely, screw the stigma.
Be you. Be brave. It’s okay to talk about it.
I want you, as my readers, to know this about me because these things are part of who I am, and I think it’s important to talk about. It has taken years for me to reach a place where I will put myself out there in all of my messy-glory.
If I think it may help even one person, I’ll continue sharing my stories until my voice goes out.
For me – living with anxiety is like living with this hyper awareness of everything, and OCD is constantly obsessing over how I can keep control of it all.
It’s exhausting. My mind runs so fast sometimes that I can’t keep up.
Panic attacks are a storm that will come out of nowhere. It’s like I become a balloon in a hurricane and I’m tossed back and forth – completely out of control, and all I need is for one thing, one person, one thought to hold onto me so that I can stop.
My mind is never quiet. Sometimes, every nerve ending is overloaded and sounds and lights are more intense than they were just a few hours ago.
Dealing with a mental illness of any kind is a tough business to try and understand – but there are people who do. We exist, and we are here to listen and support.
There are a lot of amazing resources out there that talk about what things look and feel like – but please trust me when I say that they’re different for everyone. EVERYONE. There are common threads, but everyone’s mind is different. The best thing we can do is to support and ask questions.
Ask questions. Ask someone what they need. Ask someone if they feel safe. Just ask.
Don’t judge someone else’s struggle because it doesn’t match what you’ve read about or even what you may have dealt with. We can only ever speak for ourselves, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak at all.
I feel comfortable talking about my journey now. I’ve learned a lot along the way. For the most part, I have learned my own triggers and how to calm my breathing and my mind so that I can bounce back with minimal damage to my mascara. But there are still times when my world is spinning so fast I can’t get my feet on the ground and all hell breaks loose.
We are all existing on this beautiful planet together, and the best thing we can do is help each other out and put ourselves in someone else’s shoes. Fair warning – walking in these shoes can be like running a marathon in a pair of knock-off Jimmy Choo’s. Not that I’ve tried that, because mama don’t run.
Really, I want this post to generate acceptance and understanding for those who go through any of these things.
My hope with this post is that by laying it out there, someone else will see that and give themselves a moment – one singular moment to feel loved and understood. Because you, my lovely, are not alone.
If you, or someone you know is struggling, share this, you never know when it will save a life. Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).