I haven’t always been completely honest with myself about my mental health. I think I’ve always been aware that I feel things deeply. I love HARD. And inevitably when you love so hard…the burns are intense. I’ve always felt like, overly empathetic to the world. And I had a balance… Until I didn’t. It’s been almost a year since my dad died. There was a lot of darkness leading up to and after the months around his death. If you read my first blog post this was that time period. I didn’t feel like my usual, positive (fairly) and zen-like self. I was learning to be a mother, raising my first baby, moving across the country, and dealing with the demise and death of my father. My relationship with my husband was strained. I was sad. All the time. I felt alone. I was trying to be really strong. Strong for my mom, strong for my husband (so he didn’t think I was a mess) and strong for my baby girl. This was the point I realized I needed more than creative outlets and yoga to deal with this anxiety and at the time, the overwhelming sadness I was experiencing. But, I didn’t want to show weakness (what I thought at the time was weakness), or not be able to conquer this silly, sad demon on my own. I would think… I’m just anxious. Everyone is anxious. You just gotta throw yourself into situations. I’m one of those introverts that can be very extroverted when out and about. I can turn it on and off. Well, I guess I can turn the extrovert on…def can’t turn the introvert off. #lifegoals. It took me a long time to realize that my level of anxiety was not normal. Well “normal” is the wrong word. WTF is “normal” anyway? Pssshh. Not “necessary” I should say. Anxiety is a mind fuck. Constantly clouding your ability to make decisions. Sometimes even simple decisions. It got worse as I aged, post baby it EXPLODED. You find out the world can be cruel and people close to you can hurt you. Deeply. And sometimes on purpose. It’s a tough pill to swallow. It causes trust issues and little demons to creep in and crack the solid foundation you thought was your self esteem. Might even begin to doubt yourself as a person. I’m all about self reflection and have been for a long time, but I now realize you shouldn’t let other people tell you who you are or “what’s wrong” with you. Fuck that. “I’ve never felt pressure to have to justify my selfishness…at least not to you and YOURS.” -Aesop Rock. There’s a song lyric for everything. Music is life. Sorry. Not sorry.
I decided to talk to a therapist. Unfortunately I felt the stigma. I still kinda do. Like I should be able to get over this stuff with a healthy lifestyle and blah blah. I need to be stronger than this. I realized these were voices in my head telling me I was weak, my voice. But I was assigning them to people in my life. Or letting that anxiety filter my life and my experiences with people. It framed the way I looked at everything. But it wasn’t reality, it didn’t have to be. The people around me love and care about me. I am extremely fortunate in that regard. But sometimes it’s hard to feel understood. It feels so lonely. And sometimes you need to go off on your own path. I needed to be strong for me. It’s difficult to be supportive for other people when you, yourself aren’t steady. It’s not selfish. It’s self care. We were all grieving and people grieve differently. I tried to surround myself with things that make me happy and people I care about. Positivity. I’ve learned some people are meant for certain points of your life. To help you grow. Not permanence. My life mantra: “nothing is permanent but impermanence.” But, if they no longer support you, or encourage you to shine. Time to kick rocks. It’s hard to break ties with people. Extremely hard in some cases. But if that relationship isn’t serving it’s purpose, be it friendship or love, is it worth the energy? Especially negative energy. Some people drain you simply because they know they can. (A wise person told me that once) So that sucks. Gotta look out for that. Or one sided relationships…when the other person isn’t even aware they suck. Double eye roll.
My therapist also encouraged me to try to be open with the people closest to me about what I need in certain situations. Be honest with those you love. Since, I’ve opened up about some of my anxieties with my husband and it had definitely benefited our relationship. He’s very supportive and more understanding. He can’t always relate but it helps to know that he can recognize when I’m faced with uncertainty. I have a hard time creating time for myself in extendedly crowded situations. I want to spend time with everyone and make everyone happy but it takes a toll on me mentally. I feel like I need to be “on” all the time. I need time to decompress. It’s tricky when people don’t understand the boundaries because we all don’t have the same needs. But I’m working on communicating better and sometimes even saying no. It’s ok to say no.
Talking to someone has helped. I work through things very internally, usually using creative outlets or suppression (not so healthy, I’m aware…working on it) Although I hold back too much still, just being able to talk about things that are bothering me with someone who is completely objective to my life. Knows nobody. Can listen to my point of view without judging. (Well…) Give solid advice. Hopefully as time goes on, I’ll be able to open up more fully. I still feel hesitant to talk about receiving help. But I’m trying to be more embracing of my natural self and hopefully help others realize they are not alone. Do my part to kill the stigma surrounding mental health. Sometimes these bad feelings are chemical imbalances and sometimes you can’t shake it off. Believe me, I tried. There is no shame in getting help from a therapist or medicine. It doesn’t have to be a permanent thing. You can allow yourself some time to heal. No shame in healing. And if it is a permanent thing then so be it. Happiness is not a one size fits all journey. I didn’t want my baby girl seeing her Mama with a rain cloud over her head daily. I’m a very big supporter of letting yourself feel your emotions. Acknowledging them and feeling them. Watching the bad ones float down a river and blah, blah, all that shit (I get it from my Daddy). But I realized if I did not address the sadness soon, and in a different way, I may be living in this dark place, not visiting.
It’s definitely been a process but I’m coming around. I make a choice to look on the bright side every day. Some days it DOES NOT come naturally and some days the doom and gloom creeps in and I lean into it… But I’m learning it’s ok to feel. Since music inspires: a lyric that has really stuck with me is “The opposite of love is indifference.” It’s from a song by The Lumineers. I’ve learned not to apologize for my feelings but instead be proud that I feel the world so deeply. It’s part of who I am. Overly empathetic? Maybe but C’est la vie or C’est ma vie?? But it’s me. I find there to be strength in feeling. Hate is too passionate to be the opposite of love. Those feelings stem from the same place but apathy…not caring, that’s the opposite of love. I’m trying to hone my good feelings and vibes. Vibrate higher and shine from the inside. Tis hard.
Some things that helped me get on the bright side:
1. Nature. It’s true. Nature just heightens the mood. I get outside whenever possible. It helps that the sun shines eternally in the desert.
2. Yoga. Not just the asanas but practicing the ideas the go along with the yoga philosophy- mindfulness, gratefulness, etc.
3. Music (duh).
4. Visual journaling. Drawing, writing, copying poetry, using anything that helps you manifest what you want (some people do inspiration boards).
5. Writing. “Write long and clear about what hurts.” -Ernest Hemingway.
6. Talking to someone I can trust. In my case I talked to a therapist but it can be someone in your life if you chose it to be.
7. PROJECTS on PROJECTS
Thanks for reading 🙂 And please reach out to those who care about you. You are not alone in your feelings. You can even start by reading mental health blogs. There are some great ones out there and they may be just what you need to help you understand more about your personal mental health. Cheers!