Mental health is something I’m really looking forward to writing about because it’s something that is very close to my heart. Eventually I do want to talk about some of the things I went through as a kid, but I feel like it’s important to know where I’m currently at as well. Mental illness is a journey that is often a lifelong one, and it’s constantly changing and shifting. So before I tell you the rest of this story, let me first give you a brief back story.
I was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome when I was 7 years old. At age 11, I was diagnosed with OCD, ADD, and executive functioning problems. I was horrendously bullied throughout my time in school, which resulted in a few more diagnoses in high school of anxiety, depression, and PTSD. It’s been quite the ride, and it’s definitely not over. I will probably struggle with a lot of these for the rest of my life, but I’m proud of how far I’ve come. I think it’s important, though, for people to talk about this sort of thing because of how vastly misunderstood mental health is. So, here is a bit about my journey with mental health recently.
The past 4 years of my life have been insane. For the longest time, I feel like I’ve been functioning with the mindset of just waiting for the next bad thing to happen. It’s been kind of crazy, and it’s definitely taken it’s toll. But I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to show that side of myself; I’d rather just suck it up and pretend like everything is okay, even when it’s not.
For so many reasons, college was incredibly difficult for me to get through. My Tourette’s, ADD, crazy roommates, a couple trips to the E.R., and a whole lot of grieving about sum it up. My way of dealing with it was to just shove it all down inside me, and I somehow managed to continue to function like a “normal person”. I suppose I seemed okay to pretty much everyone. But, let’s fast forward to a year ago. I graduated college and got my first “adult” job, which I love, and was enjoying moving out of my parents house and creating a life of my own. But something wasn’t right. I was supposed to be happy, but I wasn’t. I thought I was okay, and I kept shoving down all those emotions that told me otherwise, until I just couldn’t take it anymore. I knew I had to do something, because I was starting to head down a path that I didn’t like.
So, I did the one thing I absolutely did NOT want to do and I went to a doctor. I seriously hate going to the doctor. I know they are necessary, but I just hate it. It freaks me out. I did it anyways, though, and I’m very thankful that I did because this doctor told me what I knew but was trying very hard to ignore. And that was that I was definitely not okay.
The doctor had me answer a couple mental health surveys, and these survey’s tell you what your score is on a range of 0-20, with 20 being the most severe. My score? Depression = 11/20 and anxiety = 17/20. The doctor looked at me point blank and said “You have some pretty severe stuff going on here”. And I knew I did. I knew things were getting out of control, but I just didn’t want to deal with it. And after everything that has happened the past few years, it was all starting to catch up to me.
You may be wondering why I’m telling you all of this. It’s incredibly personal, and putting it out there for anyone to read does come with some risks. But not enough people are doing it. So many people are choosing to suffer in silence, and I don’t want to live that way. I have friends and family that love me, but no one knew. No one had any idea of what was truly going on, and I hate to think about what would have happened if I continued to ignore it instead of deal with it.
Here is what I want to get across to everyone: PLEASE pay attention to the people you love. They may seem okay, but they may be struggling with some demons that they don’t know how to tell you about. They may not be okay, and they might not have the courage or strength to get themselves to a doctor like I dd. This world is losing too many people too fast, and we need to do a better job of looking out for our neighbors. To the individual struggling: I get it. I know how hard it is. I know how scary it is to think about getting some help, but you need to. There is so much life ahead of you, and you deserve to live it while being the best version of yourself that you can be. There is no shame in mental illness. So many other people deal with it also, and it is okay to be open about it and to prioritize taking care of yourself. I have had a hard time accepting that myself lately but once I did, I felt so much better. There is no one who is going to do things for you. Your happiness depends on the choices you make, and prioritizing your mental health needs to be number one. That is a choice that I have made, and I really hope you do too.