Let me start off with this is not an easy subject to talk about. I try and be as open and honest on this blog as possible and even in life when it comes to getting healthy (almost too honest at times), but talking about mental illness is a whole other subject that a lot of people shy away from. And in being honest, I have to say that I’ve written and rewritten this post multiple times because I wanted to get my full message across, but I know I’ve forgotten some things, I’ve left out others, and well it’s very personal to me and my experience so my only hope is that by sharing more about this topic and by others doing the same, we can keep the conversation going and allow others to find the support they need.
Depression and anxiety are a crazy and complicated matter. A lot of people who don’t suffer from one or the other or both don’t understand the constant struggle, the literal war that is raging in your head on an almost constant basis. Sure on the outside, we appear happy and joyful a lot of the time even. And for the most part, we don’t even act how, what most, believe a typically depressed or anxious person should act. But, that’s only because on those days we are winning the wars. On others, we are not so lucky. For many of us, those wars can be fought, won, or lost on not just a day to day, but an even hour by hour basis.
We are great actors, camoflaugers (is that a word?), magicians. We know how to portray a happy, confident and well put together person a lot of the time, even when the battle lines are being drawn in our heads. A lot of times, I wonder if this is the right solution, but for me, I’ve learned what works for me to overcome and persevere and function in this world when the battles raging. And that is the key, figuring out what works for you. Sometimes I think of it as my way of being a “functioning depressed/anxious person” if that really is such a thing. But really it’s learning how to win more of the battles then lose them. And even though I have to put up an act and “portray” that happy person, or put a smile on my face, it helps ease the battle wounds I’m collecting and just like the saying says, “you have to fake it til you make it.”
Another part of finding what works on the journey of getting healthier mentally is whether or not to take anti-anxiety/depression meds or supplements. I struggled through college on so many pills, but it didn’t work for me. I gained weight, I became a zombie, and I didn’t feel in control. There have been times over the years since stopping medicine that I’ve considered going back on them, but the side effects outweighed the benefits for me. And so or me, and I know it is cliché, but exercise, breathing exercises, and finding solitude are what work best for me. And most importantly, not always on an ongoing basis, but when needed, a really good therapist always helps.
And when it comes to therapy, don’t shy away from it. It is a support system and there is nothing bad about it. I hate that there is a stigma around therapy because it is one of the best support systems there is to help you work through your issues. And having support when you are at your lowest and when you’ve lost the 100th battle of the day is really all you can ask for. If you poo-poo therapy, then find support wherever you can. Just like in any journey to get healthy, you can find support in the biggest and smallest ways. Even a smile from a random stranger can change my perspective and outlook on a day I otherwise thought was lost.
My final parting words on this subject is to know you are not alone. In any journey to a healthier, better version of the person you already are, remember there are others out there just like you.