Since Monday the 10th was World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d talk about something that you maybe aren’t supposed to broadcast to the world……
I, like a ton of people I know, struggle with my mental health.
I don’t mean that I struggle in that…..things don’t always go my way and it makes me sad.
I mean I struggled to the point that it started effecting my ability to function in my everyday life.
If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know that my family and I have been through our share of struggles. Beyond the struggles I’ve written about, there are other struggles I’ve dealt with that I’m choosing to keep private for the time being. As my Momma said the other day, in reference to someone else’s blog, “You don’t have to broadcast everything.”
I know that this is an issue that many people would keep private. I’m choosing to share because talking to other people is what finally convinced me that the way I was feeling wasn’t normal, it wasn’t ok, and I didn’t have to keep doing it. If I hadn’t opened up, or had someone tell me I could do something about it, I don’t really know what would have happened. I don’t mean that cryptically, I just needed some reassurance to take the steps I needed to to help myself feel ‘normal’.
The people who know me best would probably describe me as high strung. I tend to operate best under a slight veil of panic, sometimes of my own creation because of laziness, but other times because it helps me focus. My panic/anxiety used to be a tool I used to get things done. It was what allowed me to power through all night study sessions and essay writing nights in college. It helped me focus when times got stressful, and I was always the girl you could count on to be standing tough no matter what was happening around me. I remember my ex being almost stunned when I sat through my father’s funeral dry eyed and stoic.
It’s just how I was…..I wore my panic like a badge of pride. No matter what was going on around me or how I felt inside I could focus my anxiety into something and that felt like it made everything ok.
Eventually, and slowly, the panic and anxiety started to become something different. It started to become something that made me fixate on problems and grind away at solutions that were never going to be found. It made me irritable, and even the smallest inconveniences or issues became the causes of explosive fights or full on melt downs. I had had phases like this before, so I didn’t think much of it, and just waited for things to get better. They always had before, so it made sense to wait and that they would again.
Except that this time, they didn’t get better, they got worse.
My panic and anxiety got so bad that it was literally every once of my mental strength everyday to get through the work day without screaming or curling up in a ball and crying. Most of my time spent at home was spent being totally exhausted and drained, and it got to the point that I was having at least one full blown panic attack a day. I would often cry so hard I would hyperventilate and pass out. I usually woke up with poor, little Scout standing next to me or licking me, looking very concerned that her momma was being a huge pile of snot and tears all the time.
Food sounded disgusting, so I basically quit eating, or ate very little. This isn’t at all normal for me….I LOVE ME SOME FOOD! My rational self knew I needed to eat, but a couple bites of something was all I could stomach at a time. I kept working out…..at a manic pace…..because that’s what they tell you to do when you have anxiety. Workout, release the good endorphins, channel your stress into lifting…….we’ve all heard this sort of advice, and generally I’m a bit fan. Sometimes though, that isn’t enough.
I finally went to my family practice doctor after several conversations with the Chemistry Bestie about my symptoms and the way I had been feeling. Apparently, my symptoms were classic panic and anxiety….which can be brought on by a number of things. In my case, they don’t really know why…..and that’s ok. I was checked for thyroid issues, which can sometimes be the cause of anxiety and weight loss, but everything came back normal. Apparently, panic and anxiety disorders can reach their apex when people are in their mid to late twenties…..it’s just a thing that can happen to people.
I was put on a low dose of Lexapro, and I have to say that I’m feeling much better. I feel more like myself, only maybe a better version of myself. Things don’t stress me out they way they would have before. I don’t mean that I’m wandering around like a drugged up zombie…..I still have feelings. I still get sad, happy, angry, frustrated, ecstatic…..everything you want to feel, and somethings you don’t want to feel, about life….I still feel. I just feel like my lows don’t take me as low, and I feel like I recover from things faster. When I get annoyed or frustrated with something I still feel it, but it doesn’t ruin my whole day. Also, because I’m a bit calmer in general, I’m better able to respond to the things that make me frustrated. I work through challenges better because I’m not always so worked up.
The moral of this story is that admitting you need help, and then getting that help don’t make you a failure as a person nor does it make you any less yourself! You don’t need to feel like you have to just suffer through things. You might be surprised who around you is working through their own struggles with mental health, and how much talking about these things can help you. There’s no reason to hide your feelings. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover that talking out your feelings and issues is enough, and if it’s not….always remember there are other options to get you back to feeling like yourself!