It’s been a while since my last post because I just haven’t had the energy to write. My anxiety has been at an all-time high, I’ve been depressed, school has been stressful, and I’ve had to deal with the loss of a good friend and multiple family members within only a month and a half. I’ve been so emotionally exhausted that I haven’t really been able to address what’s been going on, let alone begin to recover from it all. Friends have noticed that I’ve been withdrawn and difficult to contact and I’ve been laughing it off with comments like “oh, I’ve just been in the middle of a mental breakdown” and “muddling through the worst summer of my life!”. Don’t get me wrong – these statements are both totally true, but I purposely downplayed just how horrible I’ve been feeling by making it seem like a joke.
I talk a lot about being more open and honest about my mental health experiences, but it’s hard to actually follow through from the middle of the worst of it. Whenever I feel impeded by my mental health in any way, it’s not just the depression, anxiety, recklessness, etc., that I’m experiencing, but also a multitude of other things like embarrassment, shame, not wanting others to worry about me. I also think that being more self-aware about my conditions has been a bit of a double-edged sword. While it is absolutely better to understand the myriad ways in which my brain can dysfunction, it can also make me feel even more self-conscious about it when it’s happening – I can recognize and understand when I’m acting or thinking irrationally but I can’t really do anything about it. It can feel really humiliating and debilitating, which is only more motivation to outwardly pretend that it’s not so bad. There’s so much stigma about mental illness that it can be hard to talk about, even for those of us who are very open about it. But I discovered something about myself and my supposed “openness” – I’m really only comfortable talking about the specifics of my symptoms with other people who have talked about their mental illnesses. I can talk to anyone and everyone about the generalities of being depressed, having a panic attack, splitting, or dissociating, but when it comes to the precise and clearly defined experiences, I struggle. It’s easy for me to say, “I’m having a nervous breakdown”, but I’m afraid of telling people that I’m afraid I might die or I’m considering hospitalization. The deep, dark realities of mental illness are still so uncomfortable.
When I first started writing this post, I wanted to detail all of things that had been plaguing me during this past summer. I wanted to kind of prove how bad I’ve had it, to myself and to the friends who’ve come close to giving up on me. I’ve cancelled plans, ignored messages, and just hid out in my flat and avoided the world as much as I possibly could because I couldn’t handle doing anything else. I wanted to use this post to say “you think I’ve been a bad friend but really I’m just very, very broken”. I wanted to make someone else feel bad for assuming the worst of me. That is the exact kind of negative thinking I need to eliminate.
Instead, I’m taking this as an opportunity to make a commitment to myself and to my healing. My therapist suggested I use a Maya Angelou quote (“success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it”) as a mantra or outline for my recovery process, and to focus only on my own personal progress instead of comparing myself to others. I have a lot of anxiety about my future and teaching myself to redefine “success” will help a lot in managing some of those particular anxieties. So, I commit to listening to my mind and my body, giving myself what I need, and asking for help when I need it. I’m suffering more than I let on.
I have to allow myself to be a priority because I cannot heal if I don’t.