As I was thinking about what to write I kept hitting road blocks. Trust me, there is plenty I could share but I wanted to write something that could resonate with people. It needed to be something personal, something vulnerable, something to show you guys I am a real person with real problems.
The answer hit me like a ton of bricks, literally.
Fasten your seatbelts guys, here we go…..
Let’s go back in time:
I can still remember the first time I felt different. I was a 12 year old trying to find reasons for the thoughts that kept crossing my mind. My friends talked about things that should’ve captivated my young mind, but it never worked. My head was consumed with feelings of self-destruction and the questioning of my self-worth. I found things to distract me or at least keep my head out of the darkness but more times than not I kept finding myself in the wormhole of anxiety.
Fast forward a few years:
I’m almost 18 years old and on top of the world! It’s my senior year, people categorize me as being pretty & popular with so many things going for her. Would these same people ever know I spent a lot of time with the guidance counselor trying to hide the fact that I was using self-harm to let out anxiety and fear? Would they ever know the conversations I had to have defending my home life and family because to them, it could only be my environment that was contributing to my actions? Even then, I was made to feel broken or defective because no one could help me understand why the only battle and destructive environment in my life resided in my head? High school wasn’t rainbows and butterflies for a teenager dealing with something no one would speak to….. clinical depression and anxiety.
So here we are in the early stages of adulthood dealing with again, something no doctor or professional, let alone society wanted to openly talk about. I am 20 years old and literally finding anything I can to distract me from the fact that I was broken or defective. Can you imagine going almost 10 years in a state of confusion and sadness because the only thing anyone has ever told you is that, “it’s not real, just change your circumstances.” I think during this time in my life, I tried almost anything I could to take my mind off of, well my mind. Drugs, alcohol, you name it, anything I could use as a crutch, I did. I was spiraling down so incredibly fast and those around me knew it. Somehow still, no one talked to me about it. It was always, “you’re making bad choices Katie”, “you need to be smarter.” I don’t blame depression and anxiety for my actions because at the end of the day, we all have a choice. I am however blaming society for keeping such a widespread issue so hush hush and off the record when all I needed was someone to let me know I wasn’t crazy.
I consider myself to be a 27 year old contributing member of society that still wakes up each day and has to tell herself to move. I was officially diagnosed THIS year, in 2017. I have spent 15 years of my life trying to dissect something that I didn’t even have visibility to. I cant help but think how my life may have been different had it been talked about when I was 18. If I could have been given the resources then to get a grip on it. I’ll never be able to go back and give myself the answer I needed then, but I can bring awareness to it now and let readers know that it is ok. You are not broken. You are not defective. You are just the same as everyone else and you are going to be ok. You aren’t crazy if you talk about it, and it doesn’t make you any less of a person than the one next to you. In fact there’s a solid chance the person next to you is dealing with the same thing.
I can tell you as a 27 year old adult that finally feels like she has somewhat of a grip on it, it will never fully go away. You will battle it daily, but you will get stronger and more strategic about how you fight it. You will get better at realizing your worth and accepting the fact that there will still be days the illness wins the fight. You will start to let go of the notion that there is something wrong with you and actually start believing that you are a beautiful work of art that will always be improving.
I am cracked around the edges but I am certainly not shattered.
If society could just talk about it more openly, maybe others wouldn’t have to fight it for as long as I did. My wish is that it becomes something that isn’t looked down upon. We aren’t crippled and broken, our sense of reality is just sometimes distorted. There is actually a chemical imbalance in the brain that contributes to this disease. I still remember how I felt when the doctor said that phrase to me. It made all of those years killing myself come full circle. Imagine running a lifelong marathon or sprint and finally crossing the finish line. It felt like I had finally made it even though I still couldn’t fix it.
There is no answer or magic pill that will fix anxiety or depression and guess what, I still have to battle demons every single day, but man am I living.
Stand up and talk about it, or stand up for those dealing with it and encourage them to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It gets better, you get better, the feelings get better, and life will always get better. I am proud of who I am, flaws and all.
I end it with this quote:
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
I will always advocate for those battling mental illness. I will always fight for my own happiness each day, and I will always stand up and defend someone who may feel attacked by society or feel crazy.