The topic of mental health has become a popular one in the last few years, and that is AMAZING, considering it was once not a topic at all. However, we need to keep talking and that is the hard part. Nobody wants to reveal their weaknesses to other people, especially when they never have, or have only shared them with the closest of confidants.
In my eyes, there is no better time than the present, and therefore I want to share my own mental health journey, in order to bring this topic into the forefront of as many minds as possible.
I was a child that grew up in two homes, which in its own right was not the hard part. It was the difference between the two that was. One was a loving home, full of acceptance, and the kind of pressure that made you want to be great for that parent because they have always been so great for you.
The other was more turbulent, beyond less accepting and pressured me to fit into a mold that was premade for me.
From a very young age, I had to learn how to force-fit into that mold in order to remain safe emotionally, and any attempt to show who I really was, or what I actually believed was shamed and guilted, forcing me to crawl back into that safety mode.
I had one home where I could be myself, express myself, share my feelings and still be loved to no end. And I had another where my parent had no idea who I truly was, what I liked, or what my beliefs were and if they were shared, would immediately discredit them to brainwashing. I had a home where it was okay to cry and I had a home where it was absolutely not. Living these separate lives was always a challenge for me, and I think caused me to mature at an accelerated rate.
I had to learn defense mechanisms and fast, some of which, if not all, were not healthy coping mechanisms for stress and anxiety, and in turn caused me to turn into a very angry, sad child and early teenager.
When I was a freshman in high school my anger spiraled quite far and to a place that my loving parent was not willing to accept and for good reason. I was told that I was going to get help, and I did not have a say in the matter. I went to counseling once a week with an amazing woman, that specialized in people my age, she helped me navigate the feelings I had been having and taught me coping skills that were healthy for me.
I made progress within myself, that caused me to become more emotionally aware. Counseling had become such a necessary part of my life that I decided to continue it when I started college. I found a counselor in my college town and did my best to keep the ball rolling, the more I progressed the better I felt. Counseling has done wonders for my growth and self-awareness as a young adult.
Life is full of ups and downs, and when you have depression the ups are great, but the downs are deep and hard to climb out of on your own.
Getting help is the first step on the stairway out of your holes. I say holes because there will never be a time where you feel you are mentally perfect, and those moments of self-doubt will be greater and closer between than you would prefer. But knowing you have someone to guide you through it, as well as applying the coping skills you have learned along the way to what you’re feeling, will make the downs infinitely easier in the long run and will make your understanding, love, and respect for yourself infinitely bigger.
To those that have their own mental health struggles, know you are not alone. Know that you are strong. Know that your sadness is valid. And please know there are so many different routes to help, and the first step is asking for it.