Being Honest with Myself
Some people were born with mental disabilities, others, like me, develop them. Either way, mental illness is difficult to live with, especially when it’s a least talked about subject and quite often everyone else cannot understand it.
The conditions in which we think, feel, and behave become overwhelming and challenging for us to transmit into a regular functioning society. Therefore, we often become depressed, anxiety-driven, unable to exert or verbally communicate effectively and incapable of actively doing simple daily tasks.
Some people drown their depression in toxic habitual behavior like excessive drinking or taking narcotics. Some over-eat to the point of no return, or don’t eat at all to avoid what they hate. Others cut themselves or perform harmful physical pain to lessen the blow of how deep their feeling of sorrow remains. All these forms of deadly coping mechanisms lead to one fact, we self loathe.
I used to cope by wallowing in self-pity to where I’d make myself sick on purpose and consume my mind with dangerously lethal thoughts. I’d hide my pain from the world and covered my face with a smiling mask of deception. I constantly thought I was all alone in this; no one would ever understand, and no one would ever care. I felt different, inadequate, all too often crazy, and dreadfully lonely.
A short while after I gave birth to my son, I was diagnosed with postpartum depression and moderate to severe anxiety; I was so ashamed. A few years later I also became diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder from experiencing a series of disturbing events as a teenager into early adulthood. I was so ashamed because if I ever disclosed my emotions to anyone, they’d shake it off as something that was “all in my head” and that I needed to get over it because that’s what “normal” people do.
I was ashamed that I wasn’t strong enough or “normal” enough to overcome my mental illnesses and that they were right about me. But one thing was for sure, I was not dealing with it and most importantly did not want to even admit to myself that I have mental illness. I avoided the truth; too afraid that if I had dealt with it then, I’d have to give up the only way I knew how to cope; through self-pity. I’d be out of excuses as to why I should keep all this pain to myself and stop giving up on me. But truthfully, I wanted to give up on me; I hated myself and didn’t think I deserved anything more than deep-rooted pain.
My friend, Morgan, at the age of 15 years old, was diagnosed with Bipolar II disorder. She would have maniac episodes and at times very severe depression. Every now and then her anxiety takes over to where she can’t bring herself to function in a way the rest of everyone else expects her to. To most people, seeing someone in that active state can be very alarming and scary, especially when they do not understand it nor have ever coped with it prior.
Morgan, like myself, had to encounter numerous people who either didn’t want to deal with it and left, told you things to make you feel abnormal and crazy, or just made everything worse by contributing negativity to your already depressive state.
See, the thing is society doesn’t converse enough about mental illness and unfortunately more than half of the people in society suffer from it. The rate in which suicides have surged throughout the country and other harmful occurrences due to unmonitored hypomanic behavior or dire recession that is anxiety-driven is abundantly increasing. It’s a long process to start taking the right steps to recovery or at least good standing health when it comes to mental illness. It has taken my friend, Morgan, over ten years to really cope well enough with her symptoms that come with her mental disorder. Even now, she still struggles at times, but she never gives up fighting for her sense of happiness. There were times where she has self-harmed and like me, has made herself physically sick with severe manic episodes.
However, not all mental illnesses are the same, there are different levels and versions of each diagnosis. For some like Morgan, after being properly diagnosed, medication and therapy aids a great deal with their depression among other disorders.
For me, I had to find a balance of joy. I had to come to terms with what I have and embrace that very part of myself rather than be ashamed. You cannot begin to fix what you do not know is broken. I had to admit to everyone else that I needed help, and most importantly admit it to myself. My son is a huge part of why I needed to somehow overcome this painful part of myself; but using him as an anchor is not going to cure or fix the issue.
I must be willing to see in myself, believe in myself, and learn to love myself enough to push and keep going than falter by succumbing to those inner demons attacking my brain and affecting my emotions.
I needed to stop self-loathing and recognize when I might have an episode or thought. The most critical source of recovery is talking about it. Allow yourself to be open to dialogue when mental illness is the topic. By talking and learning more about it, I figured out the pattern to my trauma and instead of avoiding situations that would cause me to downward spiral, I faced them. I faced my fears and allowed others to be that support I needed. There will be plenty of people you come across that will discourage you and make you sink lower but trust when I say NOT everyone is like that. There ARE people who WILL be supportive and guide you into becoming a better you; just must be willing to open and allow them to.
A great amount of self-love, embracing the love of others and striving to find the time to find that balance of joy in my life has aided me to find the peace I so desperately have been searching for. In doing all of this, my symptoms have become more infrequent and never will I say I don’t deserve to live.