Why I Made Friends With My Mental Illness

Why I Made Friends With My Mental Illness

Leave the mental illness stigma to everyone else but yourself.
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I have made too much room in my life for those who do not and cannot understand anxiety. I could not allow myself to be another one.

My anxiety has controlled my life more so in the past three years than ever before. I have avoided friendships and ruined relationships because of my anxiety. My anxiety has told me how much of a failure and burden I am to others. My anxiety has made me put my school before friends and family. My anxiety looks at road bumps as mountains and rain storms as tornadoes. I say “my anxiety,” because anyone with anxiety, depression, or any other form of mental illness knows it is not you. It is something you struggle with, but it is not you.

Like anyone with a mental illness, I hated it. I felt like it was ruining my life. I was not wanting to hang out with people and if I did, I chose the most toxic people. I became best friends with someone who used everything I told her against me and I fell in love with a guy who made sure to remind me how much he hates me and my anxiety. I let people tell me, “it is all in your head.” I defined myself by my anxiety and that was the worst thing I could have ever done to myself.

But I let the toxic people go, I looked at myself and said, “you have anxiety but you are not your anxiety.” And the best thing I did was make a friend instead of an enemy out of my anxious thoughts and anxious mind.

When you think of your mental illness you need to look at it like a child. Why is it so scared? Why does it tell you, you are a failure? Why does it keep you away from people? Why does it question everything you do? Why is it so hard for you to be normal? Why is it so hard for you to stop thinking? Why does it keep you up at night? Why does it make problems out of nothing? Why does it stop you from making friends? How could it be so troubling that it causes others problems? Why does it make everything so difficult for you?

Do not shame your body or your mind for responding to your environment in the best way that it can. Do not shame yourself for listening to all the mean things anyone has ever said to you. It only knows as much as you allow it and the more you feed it, the worse it can get. To be a friend, you cannot deprive your mental illness from all that it is scared of.

I had to stop depriving my anxiety of social gatherings, saying stupid or weird things, or asking “too many” questions. I had to let go of someone I loved because they told me I was “too much” and constantly made me hate myself. I had to stop being friends with people who did not get it or would not try. I had to stop going back to comfort because I did not want to be alone. I had to stop forcing people who could not love me to love me because I was scared of not being loved. I had to stop making myself uncomfortable to make everyone around me comfortable. I had to stop sheltering my anxiety from all that it fears. As much as it helps, it cannot grow.

I had to love myself. I had to look my anxiety in the face and tell it that it no longer has any reason to hide or run away. I had to separate myself from my anxiety, but I had to start treating it with the same love I wanted others to give to me. So when I am breaking down in the middle of the night out of fear and worry, I no longer beat myself up for it. It is fine, it is what I need in the moment. My anxiety is worried but I am not, and everything will be fine.

Cover Image Credit: David Cohen

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Supporting Late-Term Abortion Is Actually The Opposite Of Feminism

Feminism is about gender equality and women supporting women- so shouldn't we support the unborn women of tomorrow?

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Before you read this, if you are someone who feels strongly that abortions are the "right" choice and that supporting late-term abortions is a step for woman anywhere, I do not suggest you read this article. However, I do want to write that I support conditional abortions- situations where the birth can kill the mother or where conception occurred because of rape. If someone rapes you, that is not okay by any means, and a baby conceived of rape can be terminated by the mother to avoid PTSD, anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and any other mental health diagnoses. Of course, if a woman can bring a baby into the world to keep or give up for adoption, even if it was the product of rape, she should seek life for the innocent child rather than death. And what a rape victim chooses to do is neither here nor there- and it damn well is not anyone else's business.

So why should it be my business (or anyone's) if women have late-term abortions? Agreeing to murder out of convenience should not be societally accepted as okay. When the law passed in New York for late-term abortions, I did not picture 39-week pregnant women rushing to Planned Parenthood to abort their child because they got cold feet. I highly doubt that is the exact scenario for which the law went into effect for, and that was more so intended for women who did not realize they were pregnant and missed the time period to get a legal abortion.

Not that I support early-term abortion, because all abortion is the same regardless of when it happens during the pregnancy. Killing someone sooner rather than later does not make it less worse.

Excuses about how women are not ready to be mothers, do not have the financial means, would ruin their futures, they would get kicked out, lose their bodies, etc. are just that- excuses. Carrying a child for nine months might be an inconvenience, but killing someone will be on your conscience forever. If murders pleaded their motives to police as a way to justify what they did (excluding self-defense), what difference is it if a woman kills her unborn child?

Planned Parenthood might be taboo and have a stigma attached to it, but it does so much more than kill babies. Planned Parenthood is a place where girls can go to see OB/GYNO, get birth control, and learn about safe sex, protection, STDs, etc. Instead of stigmatizing it, young women should be encouraged to go to this institution for woman and feminism. Let high school health classes plan field trips there so that everyone becomes more educated on female health (boys included!). Female health education is very limited, especially in school, and many women feel that an abortion is their only way out, however, it's not. By becoming more educated, the rate of teen pregnancies can go down, as well as the need for abortions. Women educating other women should be the goal of Planned Parenthood, and abortions should be reserved for those who got raped or whose pregnancy cause death, health complications, etc.

Abortion might be giving women a choice- but who is giving the unborn babies a choice?

And of course the only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is abstinence, and if that is your choice then good for you, and if you choose to have sexual intercourse, good for you too. Be safe. No slut shaming here. Women need to continue supporting other women, regardless of their sex life. Women who have abortions are not "whores" and should not be labeled as such- they are just people whose biology reacted to another person's biology.

If you truly do not want to have a baby, please please please give it up for adoption and do not kill it. It did nothing wrong, and yeah, it might be a little inconvenient to be pregnant, especially if you are in school, but there are hundreds of thousands of people that would love nothing more than to raise your baby. Be a woman supporting other woman and give the gift of motherhood.

If you take away anything from this article it's this:



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