Last week, I took my 6 hour drive back home from college for Thanksgiving.
I took a sharp corner and the plant I had been growing for my botany lab tipped over, sending dirt all over my car. When I stopped for gas, I tripped over the hose on the pump and face planted right into my car.
Usually, these little things would irritate and embarrass me to the point that I would cry, be in a nasty mood and throw some things around, but today, I literally got back in my car and laughed at myself.
I went through years of being terribly irritable, anxious and upset all the time before I realized it wasn't right. Worrying constantly was giving me migraines, making my stomach hurt and just making it hard to be normal. I would get angry at the drop of a hat and always felt irritated with every little thing and everyone, making it difficult to have healthy relationships with anybody. I had a constant fear that everyone around me was judging my every move and hated me for no reason.
After debating it for over a year, I decided to go to the behavioral health center on campus to talk to someone. The doctor asked me a million questions and listened to everything that I had been having trouble with. She nodded, smiled and listened like she really cared, which made it much easier to talk about things that were difficult. And then she diagnosed me with anxiety.
At the end, she looked at me and said, "I would like to start you on some medication to help your anxiety. Trust me, it will do you wonders."
I drove numbly to CVS to pick up my prescription. A million thoughts raced through my mind and tears blurred the road in front of me. Was I really so broken that I needed medicine to be normal?
After a long, difficult week of awful side effects, something hit me like a truck. I was walking down the street with Starbucks in my hand and my mind felt... clear. Focused. There weren't all these little thoughts nagging at me.
I started realizing how truly wonderful my life was. School didn't seem like a burden. My assignments were just things I had to do, not things I had to worry about. I stopped snapping at my boyfriend for stupid little things. I sang in my car on the way to school and didn't give a crap who saw.
All of this coming from the girl who used to be afraid to get up to throw away trash during class in fear of being judged? The one who got irritated if someone looked at her the wrong way? Who constantly kept herself awake at night, worrying about what the next day might hold? It felt amazing.
I felt normal for the first time in a long time. When I first was diagnosed with anxiety and started taking medicine, I really didn't want people to know because I didn't think they would understand. A few people that knew even told me not to mention that I was on medication because "not everyone understands" and "you might be judged." But now I have accepted it and if I accept my own struggles, eventually others will too. And if not? That's ok too.
I need something to help me feel better and that is perfectly fine.
Mental illness isn't a dirty word. Neither is medication. Needing medicine to feel okay and happy is just fine. Nobody can be perfect. Some people just need a little more help.
It helps me actually be me, not the irritable, anxious, upset version of myself.
Don't be afraid to admit if you need a little help. Maybe it's therapy, maybe it's medicine, maybe it's simply talking to someone about the things that are bothering you. Life isn't easy.
It's okay NOT to be okay.