What better day to talk about my personal history with mental health than on World Mental Health Day. But first, I am going to give you some brief facts concerning mental health.
The first thing I want to get into all of your heads is that: your mental illness is valid. There will always be someone who ‘has it worse’ than you, but that means nothing when it comes to your recovery. You are you and you are the only you will be.
I was diagnosed with depression when I was a child. I remember like most people, I absolutely denied having a mental disorder. I remember the day clearly. I was going to therapy for a few weeks however I could not fully understand why my mother would bring me there. One day we were talking about it in the car and she told me that I was indeed, diagnosed with depression. I was an angry,sad, lonely, self-hating kid, however I did not think it would follow me though the rest of my life. I thought going to therapy would fix my depression, but depression sometimes does not fully go away. Sometimes it lives with you day in and day out. Some days more than others.
As a teenager I sadly participated in self harming. I cannot distinctly remember why I thought it would help- but it did. I hid it for so long from my family, and to this day- I am not even sure my sisters know. But, my parents did find out and back to therapy I went. But the thing with me was my depression and self harm did not completely ruin my life. I did everything like the ‘normal’ kid did. If you looked at me, you would have had no idea that I self harmed. I won’t go into detail because I know a few of you may possibly still struggle and I know how tempting relapse is if you are triggered. So instead I will share this quote:
“Other times, I look at my scars and see something else: a girl who was trying to cope with something horrible that she should never have had to live through at all. My scars show pain and suffering, but they also show my will to survive. They’re part of my history that’ll always be there.”
― Cheryl Rainfield,
Why did I do this? I hated myself. I hated every inch of my body. I hated everything life did for me. I was so so so angry. I saw everything as unfair, too good, not good enough. I thought everything in life was trying to go against me. I was searching for attention in places I should not have. I put myself in sketchy situations because I thought those people cared about me. I cried a lot, I yelled and screamed at my parents, I went to bed sad.
Eventually it all stopped. I grew up. I learned the art of rationality. I learned through hundreds of self help books how to forgive myself, begin to love and be happy. I was under multiple step-by-step guides trying to fix myself. I did not care for therapy. I didn’t want someone to listen to me and think they could have the slightest idea how to help me when I wasn’t even sure I told them everything they should know. With therapists, I felt like I told them what they wanted to hear. I was not benefiting by this. I was pretending to be okay when I needed to be true with myself before I could begin to accept professional help.
Two of my favorite self help books that I still read daily are:
Forgiving Yourself by Beverly Flanigan.
“When we forgive ourselves, we make peace with ourselves. We restore trust in ourselves. People who can forgive themselves ordinarily come to see themselves more realistically than they once did. They are more comfortable with themselves, flaws and all.”
Handbook to a Happier Life by Jim Donovan.
“To truly succeed, we must be willing to do whatever it takes. We must develop a commitment to stretch ourselves and to take small actions regularly. I would like to share with you a simple acronym, O.P.D. It stands for Ongoing Personal Development. Simply put, this technique suggests making small daily improvements in every area of your life. O.P.D. can be applied to your work, family, health, finances, relationships, spirituality, and on and on.”
To this day, I still struggle with my self esteem, self image, and slight depression. There are some very very bad days. Over the past two years I have been though healthy periods and I have slipped into bad times as well. They come and go. Right now, I focus my time and energy into school and my personal development. I turned to God for guidance with all of it. I think everything happens for a reason. I really do think that. When I was younger I did not believe this at all, because if everything was suppose to happen for a reason, why did I hurt myself? Where was the good in that? Why was the reason? Why me? Today, I cannot spend time pondering this. What happened happened. Currently I am in a low spot. I am slipping to see no good light in whatever life is trying to give to me. There are points in the day where I am like “Yes! I love life and I love God and ALL IS WELL!” And those are all true. I have grown into someone I am very proud of. I love my life. There are just times I wish life was different. There are times were I really did not wish I was me. I sit in my room and wallow in self hate. But in those times, I know that it will pass. My mental health will always be something I struggle with. It will always be something I work everyday to keep in balance. I read quotes about self love, self esteem, and positive outlooks on life. Those are all things I strive every day to better within myself.
Some days are great, some days are not great. Mental health is very personal. Mental health is something a lot of people struggle with. Everyone struggles differently. There is no book that says how to feel. We are all just out here, looking for ways to save ourselves.
Mental health should not be seen as weak. If you struggle, you are not weak. If you know someone who struggles, they are not weak. They are not any less of a person. People are people and people struggle. There is an entire spectrum of mental illnesses. There are people trained to help, there are places to go and there will always be your family.
And for the fact, as much as World Mental Health Day is a great way to spread the word how important treating mental health is, people struggle every day with mental illnesses. And it is hard to watch people talk about mental illness if they personally have not struggled through the hardest of times. Depression is like this deep, black abyss. In the darkest times, you see no light. None. However, it does get better. For me, it did get better. Did it get great? No. Did I overcome it? No, I probably will never. However, everyday is a new day to try and get a little better than the day before. Mental illness is lifelong. I will forever know I lived though what I lived through as a kid, and years from now I will look back on today. Years from now I will be struggling with something completely different than I am today, but, I know that even then, I will be focusing on fixing myself a little more to be the best me I can be.
Feel free to reach out to me. It means the world to hear your words.