talk to somebody with mental illness

We Need To Talk About Mental Illness, So Today, I'm Speaking Up

Take it from someone who knows.

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To start, mental illness is a real thing. It gets so easily overlooked and unless a person has it themselves or is close to someone who does, they probably don't care. And there's a ridiculous stigma that it can't be spoken of because they assume no one needs or wants to hear it.

The problem with not talking about it is that the people struggling with mental illness are made to suppress their feelings and bottle everything up inside. In turn, no one else is forced to try to understand how much it varies and all the different ways to handle it.

The thing is that no two cases of mental illnesses are the same and should be treated as so. Everyone has different needs. Some need people around to feel better while others like to be alone, there are different coping mechanisms, and the list goes on. It's important to not be ashamed of where you've been in your mental health in order to get past it.

Every person dealing with a mental illness is different, but we're all in it together.

One commonality is that we all have our own version of rock bottom. I have mine, so I'll begin with that.

It's a story few people know. Only the people there to witness it know it ever happened at all. It's something I think about all the time but never mention. I said I was ready to talk about mental illness and I am. I'm not ashamed to speak of it because I know talking about it and remembering it is what keeps it my lowest point and prevents me from going backward. It's my chance to move forward.

I was 15 and high school was the roughest it had ever been. Death in the family, various pressures and the constant feeling of being more alone than ever were all too much to handle. Nothing made sense because I was happy and I took everything with a grain of salt before. Thankfully, it was all the worst it would ever get, and I learned that I could handle it, I just didn't know it would get better. I didn't think it would because I was depressed. A few weeks before I hit my lowest point, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, and it all lined up.

I was sent to a therapist to talk about my problems, but for the first time ever, I couldn't speak. The happy, talkative, outgoing, personally-aware girl I was didn't want to sit down and explain what was wrong. I didn't think at that moment that anything was wrong, but I should have. I was just tired and stressed all the time. I thought it was normal to not be okay. Then I had a constant reminder that it wasn't normal, and I needed to be fixed.

That voice in my head got to be too loud and my lowest point was fast approaching. I grabbed a bottle of pills and didn't think twice about what would happen next. There wasn't a phone number I would have been willing to call to change my mind; I decided at that moment to just be done. It took for my mom to rip the bottle out of my hands for me to pause and I calmed down. Whether it was one thing or everything at once that triggered it is something I don't know. It all happened so fast and it's a blur. Nothing about the decision I was making made sense at that moment. It still doesn't almost four years later.

The biggest blessing is that I'm still here, if for no other reason than to share my story and to empathize with others on a different level than many can. I also get to constantly learn from it; about myself and the value of life. Having a mental illness, and specifically dealing with one, requires one to know a lot more about the self than anything else. What I knew immediately was that I refused to accept that my mental illness would define who I was, who I would become and what I would do.

I knew I didn't want to be medicated because I considered that "artificial happiness." It works for a lot of people and that's great, but it scared me. I knew there were things that still could make me happy. It didn't matter how hard I would have to work to get it, I just would.

The next step was just to figure out what it would take to pick myself up and to keep my rock bottom at the bottom. I had to learn how to cope safely through music, meditation, exercise and a balance of all my guilty pleasures. I had to figure out how to put in the extra effort to be as happy as I could. I had to learn that emotions are beautiful but they fluctuate and that's okay as long as I am able to channel them in a healthy way. I have to be able to see the signs that I'm getting down. I know I like to be around people so the moments I prefer being alone, I know something's off and I talk to someone. I'm still figuring it all out one step at a time because that's all I can do.

I also learn about others because of what I went through. I know to check on my loved ones, regardless of how fine they seem because I remember being the one who hid her feelings. I know not to judge how someone copes because we're all just trying to deal. I try to be good company because I know how valuable it was to have it. I know what it takes to keep up good mental health, so I don't knock anyone for being worn out.

It's quite a process of growing and evolving over time. It's a matter of not judging what we don't understand and helping and showing support when we do. It's not a phase and it's not a trend. Mental illnesses are real things and rock bottom is a real place. I could give a tour of it with my eyes closed. I will argue its existence for my entire life because no one should feel bad or inauthentic about their reality.

It's easy to pass judgments on what we don't understand. However, when there are misunderstandings, there's room for questions to be asked. Compassion and support go a long way, much further than confusion and generalizations.

Regardless of doubt and assumptions, mental health is important.

It is said that there are more cases of mental illness than there ever were before, but instead of denying its presence, the concern should be about fixing it. The pressures for perfection and success have been far more apparent nowadays, so balance should be more encouraged.

No one should have to feel alone. Talking should feel a lot easier than hiding behind the pain.

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

From an outside perspective, suicidal thoughts are rarely looked into deeper than the surface level. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is that people live in between those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead.

You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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12 Simple Ways To Ease Your Anxiety

These are some super simple ways to handle your stress at home.

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Anxiety and stress are very common problems for many of us in today's society.

Over 70% of adults face some sort of anxiety or stress in their lives.

It can really be overwhelming and can seriously affect our mood for the rest of the day.

Pushing these feelings of anxiety and stress aside and letting them build up does nothing but cause more harm to our minds and bodies.

Sometimes, we just need a quick and easy way to help alleviate some of this stress to help us get through the day and to help us feel better.

Here are 12 ways to do just that:

1. Practice deep breathing

Mental stress and anxiety can cause your body to respond in physical ways. Since it affects your sympathetic nervous system, you might experience elevated heart rate, shortness of breath, or lightheadedness. Breathing deeply and slowly can help slow your heart and ease your body back into a calm state. When I panic or feel overwhelmed, I breathe in slowly through my nose, think of one thing that makes me happy, slowly breathe out through my mouth, and repeat until I can feel my mind and body begin to calm.

2. Light a candle or start up your essential oil diffuser

My personal favorite scent to soothe my anxiety is lavender. However, you can also try chamomile, rose, orange, jasmine, sandalwood, or whatever else might help you.

3. Exercise

This is a big one, but can also be a very difficult one. Whenever you're feeling extremely anxious or overwhelmed, it might be hard enough for you to get yourself out of bed, let alone do any serious exercising. My best advice is to be proactive and try to pay attention to when you first start feeling your anxiety creep up on you. Just go ahead and get up and go for a walk, run, or whatever form of exercise you prefer!

4. Read a book

For me, there's nothing like curling up with a good book to help calm my nerves. Whenever I am knowingly going into a situation that will make me anxious, such as traveling, I always make sure to bring a book to read whenever I start to feel overwhelmed. Reading helps me to temporarily escape my anxieties and can be a big help in giving myself some much needed time to calm down.

5. Do yoga and practice meditation

Yoga is such a helpful activity for those with anxiety and stress! It kind of is just a combination of many different anxiety-relieving techniques (exercise, deep breathing, and mindfulness). There are many different apps, books, classes, and websites you can use as a guide and help to do yoga. You can find what positions, locations, and situation are best for you. Doing yoga gives you a great opportunity to think about and reflect on your feelings and worries.

6. Spend time with loved ones (yes, even your furbabies)

Sometimes, all we need is a little love and reassurance in our lives to alleviate some of our anxieties. Spending time with your family, friends, and pets can help us to see and remember the good things we have in our lives. So many times, those of us with anxiety tend to seclude ourselves and that makes it easy to forget the good we have.

7. Drink more water

Caffeine is a stimulant and can cause feelings of anxiety. It can make you feel jittery and can be a cause for elevated heart rate. Drinking more water not only helps you physically (like hydrating your skin and body), but it can also do wonders for your mental health. When your body is unhealthy and unhappy, that can be a big factor in feelings of depression and anxiety.

8. Take a short nap

If you begin to feel overwhelmed or anxious, sometimes it can do some good to just take a short 30-minute nap. Just give yourself some time to rest your mind and body and face the issue with a new focus and fresh thoughts.

9. Journal

Even though writing down your feelings, bad or good, can be helpful, when you're feeling anxious or overwhelmed, try focusing on the positive! Write down a few things that made you happy today or a few things that you're grateful for. Don't let yourself be bogged down by the negative.

10. Clean

This might not work for everybody, but I know that sometimes when I'm feeling restless or anxious, cleaning and decluttering can help clear my mind. Basically, it's just good to find something to put your focus on when your anxious thoughts feel like too much. Try to pick a task and focus on that until you're finished. You'll likely find, in the end, that you feel much better than before you started.

11. Listen to happy and soothing music

Listening to music is a BIG help to some people with anxiety. However, you need to be mindful of what you're listening to. Don't put on the breakup playlist you made when you were 13. Find happy or soothing songs and make yourself a playlist of songs with themes of positivity.

12. Don't bottle up your feelings

This might just be the most important advice I can give you when it comes to handling your anxiety. The worst thing that you can do is to suppress your feelings and try to force yourself to forget about them. Hiding or bottling up your feelings might help temporarily, but that will just make you feel worse in the end. Talk to someone or try one of the other methods I mentioned to face your anxiety, but don't pretend like it doesn't exist.

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