My name is Alexandra and I suffer from mental illness.
I have suffered from mental illness since I was a child. Now, at age 30 I am only now unpacking my trauma and realizing how and why mental illness came knocking at my door.
My therapist asked me recently how long she thinks I’ve suffered from mental illness. I laughed and uttered out since I was in the womb. Perhaps a slight exaggeration, but not by much.
Mental illness is a dirty rude liar and has altered my thoughts in ways I never could have imagined. I am constantly plagued with negative thoughts, fears about the safety of my children, flashbacks of trauma and overall feelings of being a total waste of space. Many times, I feel like my existence doesn’t matter.
I wouldn’t wish my worst enemy a day plugged into my thoughts. It’s a freaking scary place.
Part of my healing and growth has been through sharing my struggle, my pain, and my lowest lows. Yes, it’s incredibly uncomfortable, but for me, absolutely necessary. One of the reasons I started this blog was because I couldn’t identify with the women and families I saw portrayed in the media and digital and print media. A level of honesty and transparency were missing, people weren’t talking about the hard and REAL stuff, just the fluff stuff. I craved the real, the honest, the authentic and so I’ve tried to create that here in this online space.
Why share a photo of HOW my mental illness makes me feel? We gotta #BreakTheStigma and show reality. My mental illness has kicked me down and made me cry and bleed. Over and over and over again. Its impact is felt in all aspects of my life and rattles my soul to the core.
“I’m too damaged. I’m worthless. I’m so ugly. I’m a fat pig. No one will ever love me. My parents never loved me. I was probably a mistake. My kids can do better. I don’t fit in anywhere. I’m disgusting. I’m stupid. I’m never going to be good enough. I hate looking at myself in the mirror. I’ll always be burdened. My voice doesn’t matter.”
My mind is a scary place, ya’ll.
How many times have you been asked by a loved one or friend how you’re doing and you immediately respond with “good” or “OK” when you know damn straight that’s not the case? I’ve been told by various medical professionals and friends that I PRESENT (due to years of suffering and coping?) totally together and fine. Whenever I’m told this I scream internally and ask what someone who is suffering is SUPPOSED to look like? Would it be easier for others to see my pain if it was written on me like in the picture above?
It’s often easier to just say “good” or “ok” because I often can’t articulate my current emotional status. It’s suffocating, honestly.
Speaking up and being 1000% transparent about my struggles feels like a responsibility. So many people are suffering in silence, afraid to talk about what lies behind a friendly smile or warm hug.
If that’s you, please know that you are not alone.
I wanted to be able to SHOW what my mental illness feels like. I have a big personality and am incredibly outgoing, chatty and silly so people literally GASP when they hear me spill about the many demons I battle on a daily basis. So I stood in the bathroom, gave my partner my eyeliner and started blurting out words I tell myself over and over. Words I have grown to believe are true. Words that I cannot escape. Words that literally hold me hostage. Words that break me down day after day.
It’s like I’m the passenger with a ghost driver going 100mph on the freeway. It’s scary not to feel in control of what goes on in your own mind.
I share to heal. I share to grow. I share to build community. I share to acknowledge the power mental illness can have on someone. I share because I know others are suffering. I share for those who are suffering out loud and in silence. I’m here. We’re in this together.
I feel a sense of urgency to heal from my childhood trauma which mainly contributes to my mental illness. Why can’t I heal already? Why do I feel so burdened?
Healing is a journey, not a destination. For me, healing will be my lifelong journey. Instead of getting frustrated at myself that I spent so much time in a negative space, I’m working on appreciating how self-aware I am and working to add positive thoughts into the rotation each day.
I’m thankful I have people in my life who support and love me and my kids and remind me that I’m enough and not a failure.
I look forward to the day I fully believe it myself.