My Mental Health

I’ve been sitting on this post for quite some time. Its something that is hard to for me to write about, but one of the reasons I wanted to start blogging is to share some of these struggles I’ve gone through in life because I know I am not alone. I want to start opening up more about the things I’ve gone through mentally. I don’t know why it feels so taboo to talk about our mental health. I think it’s just how we are taught, not to talk about these kinds of things. And also, what I share on this blog is my story only- from my perspective. I do not speak for anyone nor do I offer any medical advice.

I am an anxious person, I always have been. I remember when I was little I would dread any sort of social event. Whether it was school, going to a party, an appointment, or just running errands, I always had some level of worry. I felt like I was so different than everyone else. I had this constant dialogue in my head making me doubt myself. I faintly remember walking into preschool the very first time with my mom and I was so concerned about her smiling as we walked in. I told her “don’t smile” several times on our walk into the building. I don’t know why I thought smiling was embarrassing, but I didn’t want to take any chance of standing out. Every morning before I would get on the bus to school my stomach would turn and hurt so bad there were times I couldn’t even make it out the door. My hands would shake. I would all of a sudden be aware of my breathing, of every step I took, how many eyes were watching me. Asking to go to the bathroom in class was near impossible. I was always so nervous to do something wrong. I got embarrassed so easily. I couldn’t laugh at myself or find any humor in my faults. If someone said anything about my appearance-good or bad- I would think about it the whole rest of the day. Going to friend’s houses was stressful. I still had fun, but I was so over aware of my surroundings, I felt awkward talking to parents, was petrified of running into older siblings, and always missed being in the comfort of my own house. I struggled with being homesick in the night whenever I spent the night away from home. There were several times when my mom came to get me at midnight because I was calling her on the phone crying about how I wanted to come home.

I started playing sports in middle school and I enjoyed being a part of it with my friends, but it was so stressful for me. I barely played because I was petrified to be put in. I would have much rather sat on the bench then be running the court. When I think back to these basketball games it makes me laugh now, but at the time I was such a mess. Why did I put so much pressure on myself? They were literally just to have fun. What was my underlying issue? Was it because I was shy? Was it my self esteem? Because of all this I felt so different than all of my friends who were just fine, talking, playing, and sleeping over like nothing was even hard about it. Thankfully I had a really good group of friends that didn’t seem to mind these peculiarities about me. They put up with me you could say. I was the kid that couldn’t do the monkey bars, spend the night anywhere, took things way to seriously, and cried way more than I should have.

During my teen years I had the same level of anxiety as I did my elementary years it just manifested itself differently. I remember if I liked a boy, I mean really liked him, I would not be able to eat. I would literally go days with only taking a few bites of food because my stomach was in complete knots about it. Don’t worry, eventually the butterflies went away and I was back to my normal eating habits but this is just how my body and brained worked. Making plans with friends was so overwhelming. I felt like I had to make everyone happy, make sure everything was planned out just right. I had a hard time going with the flow and not knowing a plan. I also became very anxious about my school work. I was hard on myself and waiting for tests scores to come back was awful. If I didn’t get the grade I was hoping for I beat myself up about it for days. I had to get all A’s. I felt like a failure if I didn’t. I was a nail biter and finger picker. My leg bounced in class and my mind raced. I was worried about getting to class on time, having the right books and notebooks, making sure my homework was done, and saying the right things. One of the repeating dreams that I still have is one where I’m in school wandering around the halls and cannot find which class I need to be in. Sometimes I didn’t even realize the stress I was putting on myself. Then, eventually, it would all build up and I would just come undone with a huge, emotional breakdown- usually coinciding with my time of the month. This was a joyful time for my parents.

Once out of high school my anxiety seemed to flip upside down into depression, except I was unaware of it. I found myself wanting to sleep all day long. I never felt energized. I would go to classes or work and then come back to my apartment and need to go take a nap. I had no idea why I felt like this. I never even considered I could be depressed. I thought depression just meant you were really sad or felt suicidal. I remember just feeling so tired and numb. I still cared about doing a good job at work and school, but found it hard to concentrate and remember things. I wasn’t able to focus. I would look at the clock and count down the minutes until I could retreat to the safety of my apartment, curl up under the covers, and not talk to anyone. I was lonely but I didn’t care.

I met my husband in the midst of this slump. The high of the new relationship pulled me up initially, but I still struggled and did not want to go places or see people. I had no energy. I confided in him, but it was hard for him to understand. It was hard for me to understand. When I was feeling this way I couldn’t see things clearly. I couldn’t step back and look in at the situation because it was just so foggy. My brain was constantly fighting me. I reasoned it out that because I wasn’t eating right or maybe because I wasn’t exercising was the reason I felt “down in the dumps”. But the thing is, when I’m feeling depressed it is next to impossible to do these things. I simply just don’t care. There is no will inside of me to get off the couch or out of the house. I did keep pushing myself to live “normally”. I had ups and downs. Some days, weeks, months, were worse than others. The thing is, is that I really didn’t know any different. I thought, well this is just how I am.

How many of you knew these things about me? If you knew me when I was in school did you notice any of my anxiety? Has anyone else ever struggled with anxiety or depression? I would like to hear about your experiences. I don’t want this to become a book so I am going to cut it off here and if this something you would like me talk more about I sure can. I did end up getting some help, and actually I am still figuring things out and working on it. It took until after I had my first baby that I was at a breaking point. I felt the most awful I had ever felt. Postpartum depression hit me and in a strange way, it was a blessing. It pushed me to look at things differently. I didn’t just accept that this is the way life was going to be. I had someone to take care of now and I wasn’t able to just lay around when I wanted to. I wanted to be the best mom, the best wife, and the best person I could be. I finally made a doctor’s appointment.