I Am A Child Of God Who Suffers From A Mental Illness

I Am A Child Of God Who Suffers From A Mental Illness

Why I'm ready to overshare about my anxiety and depression.
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I’m an outgoing girl who can hold a conversation with just about anyone. If you ask the people who interact with me on a daily basis what I’m like, I’m sure they would tell you that I constantly have a smile on my face and that my personality is a “good” one. What most people don’t know is that I suffer from severe depression and anxiety and it’s hard for me to get out of bed some days. That I love my life, yet have seasons where I wish I could end it.

I waited until 2014 to be diagnosed with issues that I’ve dealt with alone since middle school, simply because I didn’t know who I could talk to and I was afraid I’d be labeled “broken.” I thought I was alone in my thoughts. I was an athlete who thought her grades were what defined her and thought she had to handle everything herself, that there was no one who would understand. Those thoughts, those standards I set upon myself, eventually led to me dropping out of high school and “losing” everything I had been working for. Fast forward to 2014. I graduated from an alternative high school, finishing one and a half years of high school credits in one semester, and enrolled in a university that I loved. I contacted the volleyball coach and eventually tried out and made the team. I moved to Maryland, started taking my nursing classes and playing volleyball. Almost immediately, I began to feel the same pressure, the same standards. I obsessed over my GPA and my place on the team. I wanted to be better. I pushed and pushed, and eventually, I broke again.

I spent many years trying to pray away an illness that just wouldn’t leave. I remember crying on the bathroom floor to my husband one night, telling him that it felt like my life was going down the exact path it had gone down my sophomore year of high school and begging him to help me understand what was wrong with me. I wanted to give up, again, and he didn’t let me. Instead, he (and some of my best friends) talked me into getting professional help. I didn’t want to. I was afraid that the doctor would tell me I couldn’t handle school, sports, marriage or anything that makes me, me. He didn’t. Instead, he told me ways that I can help cope. He helped me understand why I have the standards I hold myself to, helped me understand that I was not alone in my feelings. I was afraid that admitting I needed mental help would somehow force me to lose myself. I never in a million years would have believed that walking into that office and being diagnosed would free me of burdens that I (and my husband, eventually) had carried for years and help me find a new self that I hadn’t known in far too long. The day I was diagnosed with a mental illness was the start of a new life for me. I didn’t go down the same path I had taken in high school. I didn’t drop out. I was just accepted into nursing school. I was named most improved player of our volleyball team that year. I rebuilt friendships and apologized to many, many people that deserved to hear it. I started to accept the fact that if I try my hardest and still fail, it’s not the end of the world and that no matter what, I would reach my goals.

I want you to know that it's okay if you’re not comfortable reading about mental health issues. Actually, I’m still not comfortable writing about my own. It’s okay for both of us to feel uncomfortable when we talk about mental health. What matters is that we’re talking about it and we’re learning together. I’ve come to learn that growth, whether it be physical or mental, is all about being uncomfortable. We go to the gym and our muscles need to stretch in order to grow, in the same way stretching our minds to understand more about mental health is going to make us feel uncomfortable because we’re just not used to it. We’re used to pushing mental health under the rug. If you’re brave enough to open up to a healthcare professional and be diagnosed with depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar mood disorder, personality disorders, PTSD, eating disorders or any other mental health illnesses, you will feel uncomfortable. If any of your friends and family go through this experience, you will feel uncomfortable. Don’t let this stop you from asking questions. Learn about your disorder, ask your friends and family questions if they come out of the “mental health closet.” We cannot end the stigma on mental health until we take away the shame attached. Start the conversation, overshare, and dare to challenge your friends and family to feel uncomfortable.

There are still some days that I struggle, badly, with the stress around me. I don’t handle a lot of situations in the healthiest manner, but having a support system and professionals to help me has made a tremendous difference in my life. It’s allowed my husband and I to grow closer and gave me a new outlook on my faith. I finally stopped thinking that there was something wrong with me, that there was a reason God wasn’t healing me, and came to finally understand that I am still fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image even if I do suffer from a mental illness.

Want to help break the stigma on mental health? Check out this great information from www.breakthestigma.org:

"Break the Stigma by:

1) Not sweeping mental health disorders under the rug and becoming compassionate about tragedies caused by the stigma;

2) Addressing societal apathy towards treatment of the illness;

3) Addressing the lack of education about the complexity of the disorders

4) Addressing the lack of adequate treatment resources and approaches.

In other words, we could break the stigma by becoming mental health advocates. It is estimated that one in five people in the world are affected by the illness."

Cover Image Credit: Viral Novelty

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black and white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble; and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time, until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling; whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die," or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you, you are not alone.

If you're thinking about hurting yourself please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or visit suicidepreventionhotline.org to live chat with someone. Help it out there and you are not alone.


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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I Joined WW Freestyle And Here Are 10 Ways It's Positively Affected My Life

Healthy Habits = Happy Tummy

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I know its a stereotypical New Years resolution, but this year I took myself seriously and decided to join WW Freestyle. It is a great program and 100% worth the price, which ranges from $3-$15/month. My parents and older sister have been doing it for a few years now so I decided to hop on the weight loss train.

It's probably the best decision I have made this year. It's not even the end of January but I feel more confident than ever, but that's not all!

Here are ten things WW Freestyle has done for me...

1. I eat MORE than I did before!

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And not just fruits and veggies!

Before WW, I was eating two meals a day, sometimes one. I thought that would help me lose weight, but if anything I gained. It was hard and I tried every "one special trick" in the book, but nothing worked.

Now I get X amount of daily points and I find someday's I'm looking for more food to use up all my points (which is very important). Not only do I get daily points, I get BONUS/weekly points that have to be used by the end of the week, so if I want to indulge or splurge, I can! Sweet treats here I come!

2. I look in the mirror with confidence!

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I only joined two weeks ago and I already feel more confident and beautiful, and I haven't even lost much weight yet! Just the idea that I am on my way to a healthier body inside and out gives me a boast of much needed self-confidence.

3. Its teaching me healthy habits.

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Before choosing to just swing by Starbucks or McDonalds I now think, "do I have points for that?" and since I can't check my phone while driving, I then decide it'd be better to just go home and eat a hearty and healthy dinner.

And hey! If I do have the points you can best bet I'll be indulging in some chicken nuggets and fries!

4. I've become part of a new, amazing community

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With the 6-month package I purchased, I get to attend weekly meetings! They are such a great support group and the leader of the group is amazing! It's a no judgement zone and even if you gained weight, its okay to share because its a learning and growing experience.

The environment of the meetings is so welcoming. And even if you just get the digital package, there is an online community as well that you can be a part of.

Everyone there is on the same or similar journey as you and the success stories keep you going because that could be you!

5. It's inspired me to exercise more!

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I used to barely ever exercise. I sat around all day on my computer procrastinating exercise. But now! I'm back in the pool swimming laps and attending a free water aerobics class up at Eastern!

I swam for 6 years of my life and its great to be back in the water! It's bringing back my lung capacity which has significantly dropped over the years of no exercise and I can feel the difference in my breathing.

You should never diet alone! Always, always get some sort of exercise at least 3 times a week. The weight comes off faster and you feel so much better.

(My article about being on the swim team)

6. I walk a little taller

And its not just the new confidence! Losing weight makes for a better posture as well! As a girl with a weak lower back, WW Freestyle has helped me so much already.

7. I feel healthier

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I can breathe easier, I'm lighter on my feet, and that's just for a start! I used to have really bad stomach/digestive issues but they haven't bothered me in the two weeks I've been a part of WW Freestyle.

Knock on wood, but I hope that they'll stop for good. Healthy habits = Happy Tummy.

8. I've started being more open to dating again

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Four years of low self-esteem and not liking who I see in the mirror is rough. With this new confidence, I joined a few dating websites to get myself out there again and it's going great!

Look out world! Here I come!

9. I'm discovering new foods I've never had before!

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Another great resource that comes with the WW Freestyle app is unlimited healthy recipes! I'm trying new foods for low points and feeling healthy and satisfied.

10. Its given me so much more energy!

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If only two weeks with the program has given me this much energy I can't wait to reach my goal!

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