"Rock bottom will teach you more lessons than mountaintops ever will."
About one month ago, I opened up about my battle with my mental health. I've heard from people who wanted an update and I can thankfully say that it has been much better. After opening up, I have realized a lot about myself and most importantly a lot about the people around me.
1. I learned that most people are battling something.
Everyone goes through hard times in their life, but typically they feel too embarrassed to talk about it. The deeper it goes, the bigger it actually gets. It's important to listen to people without judgment, because although everyone puts on a front, a lot of us are actually very similar.
2. I learned that you truly do not know someone until you actually make an effort to try and learn more about them.
When I first moved to Illinois, so many people talked so poorly on a specific girl in my sorority. They said that she was crazy and extremely mean. I got to know her and needless to say she became one of my best friends and has saved my life in so many ways. I truly will never be able to thank her enough. I have another friend that was known as the "crazy" ex-girlfriend, but she is the most genuine friend that I have ever had. The list can go on and on about the horrible things that people have said about me or the people that I am close to, so I stopped judging people completely. If I would have believed what I had first heard about most of the people in my life I never would have met the people that I have been so blessed to spend my college days with.
3. I learned that looks do not matter.
This may have been the most important lesson of them all for me. Looking back, I was so superficial. All I cared about was what I looked like, and I completely lost myself because of it. When people start to focus more on looks than who you actually are as a person it can completely deteriorate your self-esteem. I constantly felt not good enough or not pretty enough and it would lead to over-analyzing everything about myself. I was obsessed with my hair, makeup, and body always being perfect. I obsessed over the imperfections that I thought that I had. What I failed to remember is that life is so much more than how many likes you get on Instagram. I realized that I was putting looking good over my actual happiness. The people who I was most attracted to were the people with confidence. They were the people who were themselves one hundred percent of the time and did not care what anyone else thought. I was talking to my friends the other day and I asked them if they believed that looks mattered. After getting some answers, most of which being "to an extent," I started to wonder why. When you are 50, no one is going to look good. Pick the people in your life who would still love you even if you were old and wrinkly.
4. I learned to always trust my gut.
Without going into much detail on this one, your gut is normally right. Sometimes, when something bad is happening, you may not want to admit that the one thing that you do not want to happen is actually happening. However, when you have this horrible feeling, listen to it. It will tell you way more than most people ever will.
5. I learned that it is important to love everyone regardless of what kind of past they have.
When you hold hate in your heart, you are doing nothing but dragging yourself down. Rise above it. Forgive everyone and apologize when you need to. The second I took the time out of my day to apologize to people that I may have hurt in the past, I felt so much better. I mentally forgave anyone who may have done me wrong. As soon as I did this, I felt at peace with everything around me.
6. I learned that depression is so real.
Sometimes, when you are not going through a depression, it can be difficult to remember what it truly feels like. It is so much more than being sad. When I was going through my depression, I did not want to leave my bed. I think that some people think that it is about being sad and crying, yet I don't think that I cried. I just felt empty. I didn't see a purpose in life anymore. I felt as if there was no way that things were going to get better. I was not productive at all. I had to force myself to go out with my friends. I completely lost interest in the things that I loved. My performance at work and school plummeted. There are things that you can do to improve your mental health, yet I didn't have the energy to actually do it. I literally didn't see a light at the end of the tunnel, when in reality there is.
7. I learned that it is OK to cut toxic people out of your life.
This doesn't mean that you can't still love them or care about them, it is simply an act of looking out for yourself. I read a quote that said, "You cannot heal in an environment that made yourself sick," and I realized that sometimes in order to heal you have to get away from the people who do not have your best interest at heart.
8. I learned that it is OK to feel sad/vulnerable/hurt.
I mask my feelings. It is what we are taught to do. Sometimes, it is healthy just to let it all out. Write. Rant to a trusted friend. Cry if you need to. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will feel comfortable to not hide who they truly are. Courage comes from opening up about the things that you are insecure about.
9. I learned that love is not a feeling.
Love is a choice. You choose to love someone. There is a reason why people say that relationships are not easy. You are not going to want to be with the person that you are with one hundred percent of the time. You are going to get annoyed and frustrated. It is all a matter about finding what you first saw in the relationship to keep the spark alive. This isn't just about relationships, it is about friendships as well.
10. I learned that if you cannot admit your mistakes, you have not learned from them.
Sometimes, the people who can do no wrong are the ones that you have to watch out for.
11. I learned that happiness is not something that will always be there, but neither is sadness.
You are going to have your bad days and weak moments no matter where you are in life. You could have everything going for you and still not feel like yourself. You are allowed to feel sad, just do not let the sadness take over your life.
12. I learned that not everyone is going to understand how you are feeling.
Some people do not get what you are going through and that is OK. Some of them will judge you, think that you are making excuses, and try to bring you down or shut you out, but the people in your life that care about you will put their best effort into trying to understand what you are going through. The other people do not matter.
13. I learned that the truth will set you free.
I wasn't living true to who I was. I was putting on a mask and hiding all of my insecurities. I felt like I wasn't being honest about who I truly was and because of that I was losing myself to my own brain. If I got rid of the fear of being judged, I would have never lost myself in the first place. Be honest with yourself and how you're feeling now.
14. I learned that taking the high road will always pay off in the end.
You will feel so much better in the end when you take that road less traveled, although it may not be the easy thing to do. In life, conflict is always going to happen, but you can either let yourself be bitter, or you can be the better person.
15. I learned that sometimes you have to swallow your pride.
Pride can be a very good thing. It can keep yourself from getting walked all over people who do not value you. Let's say that you messed something up, hurt someone that you didn't mean to, or made a mistake and are filled with regret. Swallow your pride and apologize or take the risk of regretting it the rest of your life.
16. I learned that the best way to live is by doing whatever you want to do without caring what people think.
The happiest I ever was, was the time in my life where I was living for me. The best thing that you can do for yourself is doing whatever you want to do. You do not owe anyone anything at the end of the day. If you want to do something that makes you happy, do it.
At the end of the day, everyone has to go through something harsh in order for them to learn lessons and grow from them. There were so many times in which I thought that I would never get better. I thought that it was going to be an endless cycle of sadness. There is always a way out. Reach out to your friends. Allow yourself to be sad. Don't fight it. Although this generation will tell you that having feelings will make you weak, I believe that it takes much more to admit how you are feeling.