Happy World Mental Health Day!
It seems strange typing that, wrong almost.
Because, for a lot of us who suffer with our mental health, ‘happy’ is the last thing that we associate with it. Celebrating a day of struggle seems strange, but there is a celebration to have.
There’s celebration to have because you’re not alone in this. And, you’ve survived 100% of your good and bad days so far.
I, personally, have been really struggling with my mental health recently. The person that I usually get the most support from is over 5 thousand miles away, and my anxiety has definitely gotten on top of me.
Sometimes I sit and wonder what my life would be like without anxiety. Anxiety is a mental illness, I know that, but it isn’t really me. It’s not a true representation of who I really am, and that’s what I struggle with the most.
See, who I really am and who anxiety makes me see two very different people. Anxiety makes me highly strung, nervous, on edge and constantly buzzing, whereas when I’m truly myself, I’m a lot more relaxed than that.
I used to be quite a confident person, in fact. And it wasn’t just a childhood confidence. I used to recognise what I could control and what I couldn’t, and it made me brave. In fact, I was practically fearless. And even my biggest fears I could face head on. I was outgoing and loud and never afraid of what other people thought because, truthfully, I didn’t give it a second thought.
If that person had have continued that life, I fear that I may have been happier. I would be more carefree, more fun, more cheerful and just a better person. But that person didn’t get to continue, instead I got diagnosed with anxiety and my life changed forever.
Obviously it wasn’t like a diagnosis and then a different person, it was much more gradual than that. It started off simply with panic attacks, and then it started with the nauseous feeling, and then I stopped wanting to go places or do things that I loved. I isolated myself, pushed my friends away, because it was the easy way out. If no one could really see the person that I was becoming, it made it easier to become a shell of myself. I started to worry about everything, and not consciously. And I didn’t even realise I was doing it.
I started blanking out of situations and school work kind of was the only thing that I enjoyed, because it gave me something to focus on. When I was focusing on something like that I knew that I was consciously living, it was the numb unconscious periods that I like to refer to as my zombie self that scared me the most.
I was scared of everything. I stopped doing so many things that I loved. Every day became a battle. And the lonelier I got, the harder it was. I was constantly paranoid that everyone and anyone were saying things about me. I felt like I couldn’t be myself anymore. I spent a lot of time indoors, a lot of time crying, and a lot of time with Zack.
People didn’t believe me. It’s strange really, I’d literally become a completely different person in front of their eyes and felt completely disassociated with who I used to be, yet they didn’t believe me because I still went to school. But what they didn’t realise is that the reason that I did those things was to actually focus on something. I didn’t really watch TV or anything at this point, and I spent a lot of time learning. Like I’d google things for fun or copy out of a revision book because it kept my mind at peace, and I couldn’t bare the crippling anxiety when I wasn’t being productive.
Anxiety is something that I have been dealing with for the last 6 or so years, and I’ve come such a long way. But bad days still happen, and I’ve had a lot of those recently.
So, I’ve taken a lot of days for self care. I don’t mean bubble baths and chocolate and Netflix (although if that’s what self care means for you, go for it!), I mean basic self care like making a few healthier meals, going for a walk, even just allowing myself to have a lay in.
And, although I am not completely out of that dark place yet, I am allowing myself the time that I need to recuperate.
I tend to blame myself a lot when things like this happen; when I have down days. I get frustrated at how hard I’ve worked on myself to make progress, and how much it feels like I’ve failed.
But, I’m starting to see that I am not a failure for having bad days; everyone has them.
When you are fighting against your mental illness it can almost feel like you’re drowning at times, but you are not.
You are strong, brave and you can overcome these bad days; just allow yourself the space, time and energy that you need to do so.
And celebrate today, because you are incredible for fighting this battle every day. Even if it doesn’t feel like you are, even if you have times when it feels like you’ve made no progress at all, you are and you have.
Sending lots of love and positive energy.