Owning My Mental Illness

A lot of people around the world suffer from mental illness, especially during a time like this, whether it be temporary or a lifelong battle. I happen to be one of those people. Though it isn’t the most fun and exciting thing to deal with in my day-to-day life, I like to think that my own mental illness has helped me grow as a person.

My story mostly starts with my senior year of high school. I had recently lost my father figure, and as a little seventeen-year-old, I didn’t know what to do with myself. So once the school year started and the stress of school and work were added onto my weak mental state, I began to crumble. I began having panic attacks every day like clockwork, and I was becoming more irritable for seemingly no reason.

One day, I had finally had enough of sitting in the bathroom during my first block trying to force down the overwhelming emotions. I ended up giving in and texting my mom immediately that something needed to be done. It wasn’t healthy to pretend my symptoms weren’t real.

At this point in my life, I had done some research on what I was experiencing, and I mainly got results for depression and anxiety.  So, I knew that I needed to try to find a therapist right off the bat. Therapy seemed like the scary place people have talked about for a long time, where you have to admit something is wrong.

Going for the first time was nerve-wreaking; I had zero faith that this stranger would be able to help me. I was convinced she would listen to my symptoms and tell me it was all in my head and that there wasn’t a real issue. But this was not the case. She was extremely helpful and understanding, as one would hope. My therapist helped me realize that it is okay to need medication for my mental health and showed me ways to overcome my symptoms. This allowed me to become very open with my own mental state with others.

Flash forward to now, my junior year of college, I am still trying to figure out the best ways for me to cope with my mental illness. As many are probably aware, it can take years to find the perfect combination for your own body, and I simply haven’t found It yet. I have had massive highs and equally large lows since my first time going to therapy years ago.

Through all of it, one of the most important things I did was be honest with myself and those around me. If I am going through a major low point in my life, I let the people close to me know so that they can recognize the signs. It also helps me hold myself accountable when I start to feel like giving up on therapy.

Recently, I have realized that it is incredibly important to talk about my own mental illness and acknowledge the fact that I’m sometimes I’m not okay. Doing this has also enabled my friends and family to be more open about their mental health as well.

Mental illness of all shapes and sizes needs to be discussed more so that it becomes less of a taboo. Talking about personal experiences and listening to others and their struggles are just the first step for people. It is vital that everyone feels like it is alright to admit that they are not mentally okay, because that is the first step towards healing and understanding.