World Mental Health Day
I was debating for a while whether or not I would start this blog, or post anything about mental health at all. It’s really hard to talk about these things, still, no matter how many hashtags we throw around about ending the stigma. There’s still that underlying feeling of feeling like you’re being whiny or seeking attention, or the fear of your coworkers or friends might start treating you differently if they know what you’re going through.
But here it is.
Ever since I can remember mental health and addiction issues have been prevalent in my life. It runs deep in my family. Anxiety, depression, OCD, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, alcohol and drug abuse.
It’s been something I have always been hyper aware of and at the same time, something I have always repressed.
It’s physically hard to will my fingers to continue typing this, and I’m sure it will be a long while of back and forth before I actually hit “share”.
But the fact that it’s World Mental Health day and the idea that maybe someone will read this and feel like they can reach out to someone they love in a time of need, are compelling me to keep going.
My mental health issues manifested at an early age, and in weird ways. In times of stress or anger I would feel myself disassociating (for lack of a better term) with the situation at hand, in a physical way. I remember the first time it happened, I was about 6 or 7 and my parents were fighting, I looked down at my hands and the felt very small and very far away, they also felt like coils or electric wire were entwining themselves through my fingers and around my wrists, the same with my toes and ankles. I closed my eyes to try and make the feeling go away but when my eyes were closed all I could picture were these giant cartoon faces looming down on me yelling the things I could hear my parents saying, each time I closed my eyes they would get closer, making me feel so extremely claustrophobic.
This kept going until I was a teenager, and to be honest I’ve never really put this feeling into words, until now.
I was always way too scared to experiment with hard drugs, which was probably a good thing. And I always kept very close tabs on my alcohol use, constantly afraid that over doing it would ruin my life forever. Sometimes I came close, but always had my friends and family to pull me out of it and give me that tough love when I needed it.
Later in my early teen years the depression hit me.
Weight loss, weight gain.
Lots and lots of lows.
I toyed with the idea of suicide, a few times.
Self harming became a routine habit, until it got to the point where I could no longer hide it from my friends and family. My mom might not know it but her finding out most definitely saved my life.
I was dealing with a lot for a teenager, not only hormones and puberty and all that fun stuff. I had to grow up fast. My family wasn’t going through an easy time. Mental health and addiction were ripping us apart at the seams.
We all fought through it together and things are definitely not perfect but we’ve come very far, and I’m so, so proud to say that.
When I came into my 20’s my depression was now bff’s with crippling anxiety. My anxiety often manifested itself as rage, jealousy and frustration. It has destroyed a few friendships, and many times, deeply effected my relationship. I’m still learning how to navigate through it.
It’s like this really awful bug bite. It itches and burns and you don’t know when you got it or what kind of bug bit you but it won’t go away and it’s in a place that everyone can see and it’s super gnarly looking and it’s SO annoying that it just totally ruins your day and puts you in a really shit mood and now you can’t leave the house.
I knew it was time to look into new medications and start therapy when the suicidal thoughts started to come back, when I told my partner to hide my medications and other pills out of fear that I would do something stupid.
Zoloft, Celexa, Pristiq, none of them worked for me. I felt numb, uninterested, and pissed off that I had to dull myself to feel better. Why wasn’t I dealt a better hand? Why didn’t my brain just fix itself? It made me feel weak.
Unfortunately this post isn’t going to end with a “but then I found _____ and now I feel so much better!” because I’m not there yet. Ya, things are good, but I still struggle to get out of bed some days. I still wake up in the middle of the night with a pounding heart, thinking about all the things I might have said that day that could of been construed as awkward or rude. I still sweat when I walk the dog, thinking of all the things people could be judging me for as they go by.
“Do I look fat at this angle? I bet I look fat.”
“God my hair looks awful in a ponytail, why do I ever put my hair in a ponytail?”
“I probably just shouldn’t torture people with my face today and stay inside.”
It fucking sucks. But if anyone is reading this and relating just please know you’re not alone. That’s what gets me through those bad days. I know some of you are just as fucked up as I am, and that gives me solace ;)
Thankfully I also have some of the most amazing people in my life to support me while I deal with the day to day struggle that is mental health. You know who you are and I can’t imagine my life without every single one of you. I honestly don’t know how I would have made it. So, thank you, I love you.
Please, please reach out if you’re feeling like you can’t go on anymore, those two seconds it takes you to make that phone call or send that text could make all of the difference.
Ottawa & Region Distress Line: 613-238-3311
Crisis Line: 613-722-6914 or 1-866-996-0991