We all have had our fair share of breakdowns — if you haven't, I think you're in for a good cry. Breaking down is nothing to be ashamed of but for people with mental illness, it is something that carries a heavy load with it. Growing up, I always showed signs of anxiety, it wasn't until my late high school years that I was diagnosed with a generalized anxiety disorder and moderate to severe depression. I was so ashamed. I felt like there was something wrong with me and that it needed to be fixed asap. So, I went and booked an appointment with a therapist and a psychiatrist.
After going through a few months without medicine and sole relying on therapy I realized that nothing was changing. My few new coping skills came in handy whenever I felt a surge of worry, but I was always in a state of up and down moods, and social impairment due to my mind always racing. After being prescribed a few medicines I, again, felt shame. Shameful in the fact that I couldn't handle this on my own. I was less than a year away from college and still having full meltdowns and constant crying that I pictured myself as a burden no one would want to put up with. Then it was like a new page in my life turned over.
My medicine started to work. I could feel my body take a sigh of relief as I could be independent and not have to call my mom every few minutes due to an anxiety attack bubbling up in my stomach. As I entered college, I was the happiest I have ever been. These people hadn't seen me at my worst. They didn't know that I used to not go to school because I couldn't get out of bed long enough to not cry. As my first semester began to approach my anxiety began to fade to the back of my mind as the excitement put itself full throttle. Freshman's ear started and my medication stayed the same, and I had less frequent visits with my therapist. I finally felt like an adult. That's when my strive towards greatness slowly pulled me back into a dark place.
The competition in college and the course work is 50% stress and 50% trying not to give up and drop out. I started to skip class and isolate myself from my friends. It also didn't help that the sun had disappeared, and the average was 27 degrees. I felt like the outside was finally representing what was going on in my mind. I tried to reach out to my friends but the advice they were giving was not something that was a positive impact.
They kept saying to meditate, focus on the good, and to "snap out of it."
They didn't understand, I didn't even understand what was happening.
I had fallen back down to where I had begun. Social media was not helping either. The amount of "throw away your meds, and go all natural." or "I got through my seasonal depression without any help," was just bombarding me with guilt and shame that I couldn't do it alone. I was spiraling and didn't know how to breathe or how to just be me again. That's when I did the most important thing I could do, I reached out for help. It's been a few weeks since I had put my pride to the side and did something that would help me.
Reaching out is never easy, and it was one of the hardest things to do. But now that I have reached out, I feel more adult and prouder than I ever did when I was pushing my mental health away. What I want people to know is that it's OK to ask for help, it's OK to take medication that is prescribed by a psychiatrist. But most importantly it's not OK to force your opinions on medicine or therapy or lack of emotion for others with mental illnesses. If you have a friend that is experiencing a down be there for them but don't be them for them if that makes sense. Mental illness is not something to shy away from, but something that should be a priority in your life.