My name is Emily and I have depression and anxiety. You probably wouldn’t know it though, unless you really knew me. It honestly doesn’t make any sense. I don’t have anything to complain about. I am have been extremely blessed in my life. I was brought up in a stable home with two amazing parents. I have a roof over my head and food in my fridge. I have the incredible chance to pursue my education. There are abundent opportunities. So truly, I have nothing to complain about. I realize how lucky I am, and I thank God every single day, because I know so many people have actual problems like: hunger, disease, absuse, pain, poverty, etc.
Yet, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the things I stuggle with. You can’t always compare yourself to everyone else, because while your problems may pale in comparison to someone else’s they are still a problem to you. I have fought so long to rationalize the pain I feel. I look at it from every angle, scrutinizing my life, and again and again I come up empty. There is no explaination other than I just feel this way. It is just my brain, and I hate that I can’t pin point the cause or the solution. I feel like a liar or a baby to admit that depression and anxiety are things that struggle with every day. I am ashamed because I can’t justify it, but none of this is going to improve my mental health.
I want to tell you that it is okay. It is okay to accept the things you are dealing with. It took me so long, but you don’t have to justify yourself or how you feel. All you have to do is admit it, and then take steps to fix it.
For me that meant breaking down in a doctors’ office with two older male doctors holding out a box of tissues to me. It was hitting the point where I said I can’t live like this any more. I can’t carry this weight in secret. It is okay to admit you need some help. And that was hard. It was hard finally letting that wall down and letting someone else in. It was hard to tell someone I wasn’t the person who always had everything together like everyone thought. But it is okay. No one can do anything for you if they don’t know.
How you work towards “fixing” your problems is up to you. However, I would like to share with you what has changed my life.
Getting on the right medication. Your doctor is there to help you. So be honest with them. Sometimes you are feeling so bad for something as simple as a horomone imbalance. But they can help with that. They can point you in the right direction. They can give you the tools and the advice you need.
Journal. This sounds so silly like I am telling you to open up a notebook and write Dear Diary, today….. But a journal can be a powerful means of self exploration. Ask yourself questions. Write out how you are feeling. Examine the things that you feel like are contributing. Put down the things that are going right and what you are grateful for. Allow yourself to create some perspective. Just give your self a space to get it all out there in the privacy of your own journal.
Consider a getting a suppport animal. I was always wary of the merits of a “support animal” until my kitten Merlin came into my life. He has brought me such joy and comfort that only an animal can. He is my constant companion, and has made sure than I am never alone. He needs me, and that means so much to me. He needs me to keep my life together so I can take care of him. And that external force of balance has added so much stability to my life.
Fill up your time. Don’t go over board with this. But the saying and idle mind is the devil’s playground. If you know that being isolate and alone is bad for you, then don’t give yourself those opportunties. Get involved and have somewhere to be and people to meet.
Take care of yourself. This means sleeping, eating right, and exercising for me. If I can do those things, then my mental health will always be stronger. I know that. So, if you know what works for you, then do it!
Your problems are your problems. Don’t let anyone, including yourself belittle or dismiss them, because that won’t fix anything. You are strong, and at the end of the day, you are your most powerful advocate. So allow yourself to admit that things are not always perfect, and know that it is okay to not be okay. It is okay to ask for help. No one expects you to be perfect all the time, so don’t feel like you have to be.