Posts Tagged ‘depression’

Lies My Mental Health Tells Me

Depression.

Anxiety.

PTSD.

OCD.

Intrusive thoughts.

Trichotillomania.

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 unpacking my trauma and understanding how and why mental illness came knocking at my door. Mental illnesss is a liar and has altered my thoughts in ways I never could have imagined. I am plagued with negative thoughts and can not trust what I think anymore.

I hope to #BreakTheStigma surrounding mental illness by providing a honest look at the lies my mental health tells me on a daily basis. My mental illness has kicked me down and made me cry and bleed. It’s impact is felt in all aspects of my life and rattles my soul to the core.

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The Rain Won’t Last: Picking Yourself Up When You Feel Broken #loveurself

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I’ve been the skilled captain of my own seemingly sinking ship for as long as I can remember. Expertly navigating through one storm after another without completely falling apart, but taking in more water than I’d like, moving slower and growing more tired. I’ve felt like life was a storm I could never pass – that I was forever stuck under a dark cloud feeling like happiness was only found in the movies or for people who deserved it. I didn’t think I deserved it; I was too broken, too fucked up. I thought my daughter’s smile and free spirit could save me from drowning under my mistakes and ridiculously high expectations of myself. I had to be great, amazing even, and I wasn’t living up to the woman I wanted to be, and therefore I was a failure. A complete failure, stuck in the rain.

My whole life I’ve been resilient, I don’t think I’ve had an option to be any different. I’ve had to be a strong and independent woman often without a tribe to lean on during my darkest days. I’ve had a difficult relationship with my mother and my estranged father passed away a month ago bringing to light many childhood feelings I’ve worked so hard to store away. I’ve struggled knowing my worth and thinking I could achieve anything worthwhile, trying hard to define success for myself as a woman and a mother. Guilty that my role as a mother just wasn’t enough to fulfill and nourish my soul. As I’ve gone through one storm after the next I’ve repeatedly asked myself: what will I become? What will I become? I’m often too scared to make a change and have tiptoed around my life worried I was just going to make more of a mess of everything.

All of this doubt and fear has left me emotionally drained and socially isolated wanting nothing more than to put a do-not-disturb sign on my door and lay in bed. Still. Hoping if I did so life would be OK and I’d dodge another storm. Worried if I faced another storm I wouldn’t survive.

I’ve tried hard to cover up my unhappiness with an empty smile and simple conversation. I’m the Queen of deflection. But last Friday someone saw through the façade and saw I was hurting more than I was able to process. I felt exposed, I felt naked. But more than anything I felt relieved. Holding all these emotions in has consumed me, and I was finally able to breathe and be OK with knowing that I’m not OK right now, that I need help. And that started me becoming truthful to myself and those closest to me. I was so afraid to be anything less than stellar, but in the process I was killing myself.

I’ve spent entirely way too much time beating myself up over decisions I should have made and mistakes I regret, telling myself that my life wasn’t going to change. I wasn’t worth it. No wonder I wasn’t on my way to finding happiness, I was literally talking myself out of it. In the midst of the rain I was crying and not moving, sure that nothing good was going to come.

The first step in feeling better and moving forward is being honest with yourself. This often means acknowledging you need help and that you aren’t OK. As someone who has suffered from depression I know it’s easy to sit back and let your emotions consume you. But this isn’t the legacy I want to leave for myself or my daughter. I know happiness isn’t something that is going to happen overnight and I have to learn to accept that there will be more storms, but I will overcome. I have come so far already to give up now. But I can’t go along this journey alone so I’m seeking out help to be a better person, to me. I owe myself that much.

So let the rain fall, accept it’s time in your life. But sail forward. You’re worth it.

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Learning to Love Yourself While Battling Depression #DayofLight

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The #DayofLight: Bringing Depression Out of the Dark is a movement aimed at bringing awareness to depression. Today those who have struggled with depression share their experiences and resources and stand together.

This is my story:

I can’t remember how old I was, maybe 7, when I witnessed my mother’s depression suffocate her.

I was only able to glance into her room, her brown body still in the bed, before the ambulance came. Though she survived, we never talked about what happened that day, but I knew. As the youngest of four I was often shielded from the dark realities of my single mother’s struggle to survive and her battles with depression. At that young of an age I didn’t understand why she acted the way she did – why she was cold, mean, unable to show me deep affection, why she prioritized her boyfriend over her children. And I realize now that my own battle with depression began through witnessing my mother’s struggle.

I didn’t need a medical provider to tell me that what I was feeling was more than an overwhelming feeling of sadness. I knew that the feelings that were taking over me were much deeper and scarier than just being sad.

Growing up we didn’t discuss feelings. My mother’s goal was to raise strong independent black children. We would grow up and soar and fly without needing help – without showing fear. When we didn’t act accordingly, there were severe consequences. So when these dark feelings grew within me, I acted as I was taught. I hid them, concealed them, kept moving forward with a smile on my face. Because showing any kind of weakness, especially as a black woman was unacceptable.

So I moved forward, on the outside a shining image of a strong single mother, helpful, attentive, outgoing, and happy. I gave all that I had to making other people happy that I had nothing left for myself. When I’d get home and peel off that mask, and looked at myself in the mirror I hated who I saw staring back at me. She was weak. She was fragile. She was suffering. She was fat. She was ugly. She couldn’t do anything right. I mean who would get pregnant at 19 with someone who didn’t even love her? Who would seek out men’s affection because she had never felt real love from her parents? Who would consider self-harm as an answer? Someone weak.

I hid my depression and later my anxiety attacks from everyone. No one knew that I was leading a double life. I couldn’t let the truth escape because I didn’t want to show how vulnerable and scared I was. I didn’t want people to think I was a basket case. I wanted people to believe that I was fine, that everything was just great. That that smile I wore during the day carried on at home. I had to conceal the truth. No one could know that I would sometimes spend weekends in bed crying thinking about death. No one could know that I’d drink myself into a stupor just so I could stop feeling so damn much. No one could know that I didn’t find pleasure in anything anymore. No one could know that I thought I’d be better off not being here.

Read the rest of “Learning to Love Yourself While Battling Depression #DayofLight” over on The Young Mommy Life.



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