Well hello there!
Long time, no see. Literally. Am I right?
Let’s see — the last blog post I did was in April, so, four months literally to the date. And no, I didn’t plan that, oddly.
*** Disclaimer: I started this post last Thursday with the intention of finishing it the same night and then I got sidetracked and then flash forward to now: Monday.
So, four months since my last post and well, not much has changed. I mean, we’re still in the middle of a, excuse my language — fucking — pandemic. Like, and at this point, I, and I assume like many other around the world, are FLIPPING OVER IT!
I mean, seriously. When my work transitioned us to working at home in March, never did I think in my wildest dreams that we would still be working from home until now, and, let alone until at least through the new year.
You read that right, reader. My work has sent us official word that we will be working home until at least through Jan. 4, 2020.
Now, that could certainly change again as the time nears, and at this point, I can only hope it doesn’t.
Well, let me tell you why.
So, I have never been a huge public speaker (I mean, OK yeah, on some of my social media platforms more than others) on my “mental illness,” if you will. I know, I shouldn’t use quotes around that term as it is a very much real subject and simply thing countless people have/experience/live with.
I am one of them.
But, to be honest, and I don’t mean to be offensive when I say this — but, I don’t like that term. It’s probably because of the negative stigma still so very much associated with it, even though by now, 2020, I thought we would have made some progress as a society in terms of how we would view and treat those with mental illness — both treatment socially and medically.
Anyway, not my point. Yes, I do suffer from mental illness, though. I have depression and anxiety.
What? Me? No?
Yep. True. Not fake news.
Well, Jesus, I wish I knew WHY. The “why,” is what’s been increasingly getting to me during this pandemic. And well, let’s be honest, this pandemic and quarantine itself aren’t helping matters at all. They’ve both just made things worse, to be honest.
Which, brings me to why I decided to blog about it. Is this terrifying? Oh yeah, you know, only slightly!? But, I want to share this in hope it inspires other reading this to know it’s OK to not be OK sometimes. Whether you are someone who suffers from mental illness directly, or have someone in your life that does, or you just are otherwise going through a rough patch — it’s OK to seek help/support.
Believe me, after having become really honest with myself, I knew I had to share with other people so they don’t feel hopeless or defeated in their pursuit to get better.
“But Ana, everyone has bad days. You’ll get over it.”
Right. You would think depression is that easy, wouldn’t you? In fact, that’s a common misconception about depression specifically, is that an individual is just having a bad day and will only temporarily feel sad.
During this pandemic, being quarantined with the rest of the world, my depression and anxiety told me I (and others who suffer from depression/anxiety/any other mental illness) had it the worst. No one would simply understand.
So what happened? Well, I literally began losing my marbles. I began to feel super isolated. Even though I was still able to see my parents, my one brother and dog, it didn’t make me feel better 100 percent.
I missed my sense of normalcy. I still do.
I began to dig myself into this imaginary rut/hole that I felt there wasn’t any escaping from. Mix this in with a long-distance, fairly new-ish relationship. I mean, could I really handle everything that I was forcing onto my plate? I didn’t think so.
So over the past few months I’ve thankfully still been able to continue therapy with my therapist through Zoom video chats and have gone to see my GP doctor a handful of times in hopes of finding a medication to balance my therapy in hope of both of them helping dig me out of this rut I felt myself falling further into.
Well, therapy has been great. I have been seeing my therapist for over a year now and I’ve grown to really like her. At first I was skeptical. Not because it was my first rodeo seeing a therapist, but, because I had my own misconceptions and stereotypes about therapists that made me cringe thinking of he/she asking, “And how does that make you feel?” There was no way I could handle that.
But, I gave her a chance and it’s definitely helped, but, it wasn’t enough. And that’s when she explained and a light bulb went off in my head that there is something wrong chemically in my brain. It was a silly conception to think at first — in fact, I shrugged it off, like, yeah, right, lady. OK.
Finally, though, I gave it more thought and realized she was right. I knew I was going to need something more than just therapy. Now granted, I had already been taking medication prior to and with therapy, but, it got to a point where it no longer felt like it was helping make things better. And then, like I said, enter in this quarantine in the middle of a pandemic and feeling isolated from the world, well, that’s when things really took a turn.
And again, I am sure there are some people reading this and will make it to the end and think, OK, yeah, I think you’re just being dramatic. And if you want to believe that, go ahead. I know not everyone buys into “mental illness” and health, but, like I said previously, I am hoping by sharing those post it will not only be therapeutic for me, but, also for others out there who are going through something similar.
Fast forward to now… I still struggle, absolutely. In fact, these past two weeks before my staycation at Ryan’s house, or, at the very beginning of it, I lost it. I truly felt like I had hit rock bottom.
I was terrified. I couldn’t wrap my mind and deal with why I felt so sad when I knew I have so much to be grateful for in life. It’s always a struggle between fighting to be happy while also realizing it’s perfectly normal to feel the way I do. Is it is ideal? Hell no. And to be quite frank, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.
But, thankfully/luckily — I have an amazing support person — a support system, really. Seriously, though, major kudos go to Ryan — who, along the way, we have both learned to be even more patient and understanding when I get in one of those low moods.
I’ve shown my ugliest side to him — both metaphorically and literally. And his reaction and dealing with is it the definition of true love.
True love is partly what has helped me through this. Yes, of course, I have an infinite about of love from my family, but, they’re my family — it’s their job to love me. 😉 Kidding, sort of.
But, Ryan has a choice day in and day out to love me. And not once has he ever wavered. I have never met a more selfless, loving, caring, kind and patience man. I mean, I thought my past boyfriends were the bees knees, but, clearly I was wrong. I am and will forever be grateful to God or whatever other higher power is up there that led Ryan into my life. I can’t imagine showing my true, true self with anyone else.
Although I’ll be honest, that didn’t come easy. Even little things, like little quirks or whathaveyou, I did not want Ryan to be seeing/experiencing any of that. I mean, some things a significant other just does not need to know you do/say. LOL! But, over time, my guard lowered and I became more comfortable. I felt safe. Like I could be my true self and have that be enough–for the most part, anyway. (Remember, my mental illness tells me more often than not that I am not worthy of such a great love/relationship in my life.) I felt like I could say what was really weighing on my mind and tell him without needing to provide an explanation.
Of course, with my depression and anxiety, I so badly want to be able to explain it and the fact that I can’t, infuriates me to no end. He understands I can’t, and doesn’t expect me to explain, but, for someone who is on the receiver end of the illness and meh, maybe just a tad obsessive compulsive, can make me my own worst enemy.
My point in all of this is this: Let go of what others think of you. At the very least, speak up and speak out. Help end the stigma related to mental illness. If you are feeling sad or angry or even happy, really — share it. Reach out if you need help. Reach out even simply just to talk.
Will be it absolutely terrifying to do? Hell yes. But, look at me. Look at me blasting all my random thoughts in my head typed out into words and this time not on Twitter. (Because on yes, my Twitter account is just like an open diary to whomever wants to read it. But, also, again, because I am hoping maybe I can inspire others, even if only one person, to speak up and speak out; or just feel heard and know they’re not alone.) My family reads this–OK, maybe not every single person, but, I am sure some–strangers read this. My friends read this. I really don’t know who reads this but, if you are reading this and you either a) feel inspired, reach out and let me know. OR, if you need/want additional resources, my favorite is: 1-800-273-8255.
It’s OK to ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean you’re weak.
I believe it’s so important to seek help when you need it, even when it can be scary. Why? Because I lost someone to suicide when I was younger and while she was an adult at the time, and I a child, to this day it still impacts me very much. I can’t help but wonder why such a kind, loving and beautiful soul had to be dealt the card of mental illness in life. I wonder why her mental illness had to consume her to the point where she felt there was no other way out other than to end her own life.
It happened long ago while I am now 30 years old today, I am and always will be an advocate for mental illness and suicide prevention. Especially since I myself have been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, which are forms of mental illness. I want to be better. I want to do better. I don’t want my life to be defined by my actions as a result of my mental illness. I want to try and understand better so I can really believe people when they tell me it’s treatable and that there is a bright light at the end of the tunnel so to speak.
So until next time… I will work on small victories of self-care, which is how I will try to cope with my mental illness of depression and anxiety. Whether it’s something silly but small and still a victory like — getting dressed and doing my hair and makeup for the day; going outside to mow my lawn while listening to my favorite music; karaoking while in the shower or during work (when I am not receiving or making outbound calls, of course); giving myself at least one compliment a day, or even week (baby steps)–self love–something I struggle with a lot; not taking a nap after work because I am so tired from who knows (depression, etc); journaling; etc. These may seem small and trivial, but, like my therapist and Ryan like to remind me — I have to start somewhere and find what works for me. Remember, everyone is different and so self-care for me may look totally different to the next person.
Tell me, what are you doing during this pandemic to show yourself self love and care? Do you have any recommendations for me that I may have overlooked and you think I could benefit from?
Let’s get the conversation going to help #EndTheStigma.