Despite my best efforts to seem like a badass carefree bitch on the Internet, the truth is I am a hyper sensitive INFJ who has spent a huge portion of my life dealing with mental health issues. Before I get into things here I’ll cleanse your palate with this kitten GIF which may help protect you from the following content which, *trigger warning* contains some mention of self-harm, body issues and general mental fuckery.
BUT LOOK KITTENS
However don’t fear! The purpose of this post is to give people hope. Things can and WILL get better.
Mental Health Madness
When I was young I remember having insomnia and staying up very late at night worrying about shit. I used to worry about floods, earthquakes and dying.
I was terrified of dying and I was obsessed with what happens after we die. Especially if what happens is nothing.
I still have to hum Spice Girls songs to myself to get my mind off that shit at night.
This lead into a very age-appropriate introspective semi-goth phase which never really left me. As a highly sensitive person I found being a teenager to be incredible difficult and traumatic (this is the part where everyone nods and says “LOL same”) and in all my youthful wisdom, turned to all the wrong things to try and make it better.
I really wrestled with self destruction in its many forms- self harm, substance use, and writing terrible poetry.
I had turned my life into a WTF Platter with extra Poor Choices as garnish.
My Shitty Backseat Driver
Although I got my shit together when I had my oldest at 19, a lot of my issues remained. Over the years I was diagnosed with treatment resistant depression and anxiety, as well as a myriad of other things.
Everyone’s experience is different, but for me, mental illness felt like being trapped with myself.
If someone out there makes you feel like shit you are free to cut them off- but when you are your own worst enemy you’re truly fucked.
It’s like having the most asshole backseat driver that you can’t silence or ignore. The paradox is that you feel like the only way to shut them up is to crash the car. However that’s just a lie your depression feeds you- as the driver you have the control. But reaching out to grab it feels like those dreams where you are running in molasses.
What Depression Gave Me
I used to think that I would give anything to not have ever experienced mental health issues. However now that I’m older and have kids of my own, I have come to realize the gifts those experiences gave me.
I am empathetic to a fault. An axe murderer could be chasing me with full intent to kill and I would probably be all “Aw maybe he just needs a friend, lets hug it out”. I think my own mental health struggles gave me the ability to see other sides, and have an appreciation for just how much someones internal struggle can shape their outer asshole behavior.
An Appreciation for Taking Care of My Health
Once I was able to trudge through the fog and get walking and eating better, the difference on my mental health was so huge it is now ALWAYS my first line of defense when I start feeling shitty again.
Self awareness was always a way for me to fuel my own self hatred, however now I use that shit to work for me. I am very in tune with my emotions and physical state. I have developed the ability to recognize if I’m having a hard time in the very early stages and address them before they have the chance to consume me.
The Ability to Recognize the Power of Self Talk
For many years I wore my dysfunction like a badge of honor. “I’m crazy!” I’d say, not realizing that what I was feeding myself was justification not to change. Change is scary and staying the same is warm, soft and safe- even if it is slowly killing you. Once I knocked that shit off, things drastically improved for me. *Hint* It also works for diet struggles 😉
My Psychology Degree
I am a chronic nerd and compulsive learner so when I was diagnosed with almost everything under the sun, I got to reading. I ended up with so much knowledge that I decided to go to College, then University. For some context I had dropped out of high school and never graduated. I was incredibly lucky to still have the brains left after a torched youth to take assessment tests and slip in fairly easily. At first I thought I could never get a B.A. but eventually I just went for it and ended up graduating with honors. This was while I had a young child and went back to school in my 20’s. So if you know a young person who is struggling- don’t worry. My biggest message to anyone is that it is NEVER too late.
The Knowledge that It Does Get Better and It’s Never Too Late
My biggest takeaway for anyone who is in the trenches, or supporting someone who is (if it wasn’t for my husband I don’t want to imagine where I would still be), is that IT GETS BETTER. You might have to do the work, but it isn’t a life sentence. It’s your life so you need to fight for it with the passion that it deserves. We work hard for income, for our kids, for our creativity and talent, for our interests and obligations. The hardest you should be working is for your own life, happiness and sanity. and don’t let anybody out there judge what you’re going through.
The secret sauce lies in the ability to be gentle with yourself, while also gently being able to kick yourself in the ass when you need it.
Your wellness depends on you- the driver.
If you know anyone who might be helped by this feel free to share! We need to normalize this very normal shit so folks stop suffering in silence. We can be a loud ass bunch so let’s just raise our voices and lift each other up!
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