Truth time: I have anxiety and depression. The anxiety has been a constant for awhile, but the depression is a new phase in my personal experience with mental illness. I have debated on how or if I wanted to say anything, to anyone, but I’m learning from therapy and experience that keeping it all inside is worse.
I feel and know that you are tired of hearing about mental illness. You hear about it ALL THE TIME. Politicians, legal analysts, celebrities, doctors, teachers, parents, friends, etc. are always preaching about this. I GET IT. But I am going to talk about it a little bit because not only do I suffer from some of this, but I also know how vital it is to actually talk about this. Argue, debate, fight, bicker, yell, cry, abash, console….whatever format it comes in, just talk about it.
As you probably know, I grew up in a large, average family. I had a childhood with friends, school, sports, activities, holidays, and all the usual things that reflect a happy upbringing. I am the oldest of five children, and I am the epitome of the oldest: I broke my parents in to the realities of teenagers/young adults, I made all the mistakes, I did all the stupid things and suffered all the consequences, and I have come out the other side as a responsible adult, wife, and mother. I feel that I grew up pretty normal. I was happy, well cared for, and did not want for much despite the lack of money with a large family.
So why did I end up with a mental illness? Why did several members of my family end of with this? Frankly, I have no idea. I can try to pinpoint things in my life that might have shifted my mind and POV, but that is merely casting blame to situations and to others who do not deserve it. The “how” and “why” of mental illness is not as important to me as figuring out how to live with it – because it is something that is not a temporary problem, and I still have to live my life in spite of it.
I think instead of calling it a mental “illness,” we should embrace these things as a part of life and in how different and unique humans can be. Everyone has their sh*t, so to speak, but some people just have a different way of dealing with it all. Some people are chemically and/or hormonally imbalanced and need some assistance. Some people have experienced so much pain, loss, or grief that it is too difficult to pull out of the bleakness. It’s not a weakness or a physical illness (although it does manifest in many physical ways), and it should not be viewed in this way.
The only way I am getting through this is by talking. I talk to my therapist at least once a week and see my doctor for medication. I talk to my husband and try to help him understand what this is like, because fortunately he does not deal with any of this personally. I talk to my kids so they do not grow up feeling like mental illness is a taboo or shameful subject. I talk to my family when I feel comfortable, and we do what we can to help one another with our own struggles.
And finally, I am talking to you and making myself accountable. My first instinct with anything that I am failing at or shameful about is to hide it away, but why should I feel shame? I’m not failing at anything; I’m learning, changing, struggling, thriving, and figuring out a way to live everyday as best I can. I will keep talking, if it is the only way to help myself and those around me.
So if you are tired of hearing about mental illness or feel that it is not the norm….too bad. This will not be my last post as I navigate my own mind and emotions, and I hope that my discomfort with my anxiety and depression will weaken with every word I share.