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

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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.

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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.

Empathy

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

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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14 Comments

  1. floweringink May 8, 2018 at 10:10 am

    I absolutely love you, Mandi. It is so brave and so important that you are writing about this. I read something by Wil Wheaton the other day, about depression and mental illness, and I have been thinking about it so much lately and the impact it has had on my life. It is so incredibly important to talk about it and, as you say, normalize this shit. You are incredible and amazing and strong and brilliant. Thank you for sharing all of that!!! xoxoxoxoxo

    Reply
    1. MandiEm May 10, 2018 at 8:12 pm

      Thank you so much! ❤❤

      Reply
  2. Scribbles and Tostitos May 8, 2018 at 5:49 pm

    So full of hope! The biggest take home message is to use something negative to work for you. Depression IS your superpower. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  3. The Lockwood Echo May 9, 2018 at 5:04 am

    Such insight. You have an incredible knack for saying important stuff but without being patronising, and the humour never belittles the topic. It’s only since venturing into Blog World have I really started to understand my personality type and how that affects everything I do, think or feel. I’m INFJ and The Devil’s Advocate, so I get how you could sympathise with an axe murderer! Everyone has their emotional baggage and battles. This is a brilliant reminder that understanding yourself, how you got there and where your weaknesses trip you up is the key to it all.

    Reply
    1. MandiEm May 10, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      Thank you so much ❤❤

      Reply
  4. wildswimmermum May 9, 2018 at 10:41 am

    I absolutely love your writing. Thank you for sharing your journey with the world. Your blog sums up a lot about hope

    Reply
    1. MandiEm May 10, 2018 at 8:10 pm

      Thanks so much for reading!!

      Reply
  5. DGGYST May 10, 2018 at 9:25 am

    You are such a beautiful creature! My sister and my best friend are both INFJ’s! No wonder I love you so much! The title of this alone deserves to be put on a plaque! Like, I would straight up buy that at Michaels if it was scrawly and written on wood grain. Crippling panic attacks essentially made me rich. Seriously. It activated some serious entrepreneurial genius. lol. I am so impressed with you, I am going to go share this post with everyone I see today!

    Reply
    1. MandiEm May 10, 2018 at 8:11 pm

      Pass some of that genius this way. I have a case of the poors lol

      Reply
  6. Mandi stalker May 11, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    I can relate to so much of this, and it’s good to know that it will get better. I’m currently in the trenches listening to my depression nagging me, it seems like an endless task to battle it. I love reading what you’ve learned from it. I too see everyone’s inner self and not the asshole on the outside. Although, some people are just plain assholes ☺ great post as per xxx

    Reply
    1. MandiEm May 12, 2018 at 7:13 am

      Lol your name is Mandi stalker 😂😂 you crack me up everyday

      Reply
  7. Daniela May 12, 2018 at 4:26 am

    This was so moving, Mandi and I really did find myself nodding along to everything you said. Depression gives you a different perspective. At times you feel as if you feel everything all at once. This was a wonderful honest read and thank you for sharing. I had a lot of me too moments reading it.

    Reply
    1. MandiEm May 12, 2018 at 6:46 am

      Thank you so much!! ❤❤

      Reply

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