Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, and I took some time to reflect on my own journey with mental health and illness.
On February 6 of this year, I finally surrendered to the fact that my mental health needed to be addressed in a different way.
For years, I have managed my anxiety and bouts of depression with various coping mechanisms – breathing exercises, therapy, visualization and meditation, prayer, yoga, writing, etc – and I still use many of them to this day (though admittedly, some are more effective than others) but the anxiety and darkness lingered still.
Finally, it was a light bulb flickered on, and it occurred to me that I had tried all of these resources to help me get better but one. I’d run from a clinical diagnosis and medicine for this long, probably more out of pride than shame. I was raised by two very strong, independent, and willful individuals, and I think it was that sort of mindset that motivated me to just carry on. I insisted on doing it on my own and powering though and not asking for too much help.
But then I looked at my kids and I realized that this is not something I want them to white-knuckle through with me. They were just 8 and 2 at the time, and they have no need or business being burdened by my mental health.
So it was February 6, 2018. I called and made an appointment with a medical professional to begin to discuss my options. Shortly thereafter, I received my Generalized Anxiety Disorder diagnosis and began treatment.
For the first time, I actually felt like I was DOING something about the problem, like I was actually fighting instead of just surviving. It was empowering to have the words to name it, to have the validation of a diagnosis, and to have that more ammunition in my arsenal.
Within a few weeks, I felt… better. It hasn’t been prefect, but it’s been better than it ever has been. And I’m grateful. 💜
Don’t be afraid to make your mental health and well-being a priority or to ask for help. In my experience, the harder it gets, the more it’s your mind crying out to you, begging for your attention and help. Do what you have to, and know that there are so many of us here with you. And we love you, we support you, and we’re fighting with you.