You Are Not Your Anxiety, You Are Not Your Depression

You Are Not Your Anxiety, You Are Not Your Depression

First and foremost, of all the things you are, you are YOU.
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For years, I identified myself by my mental illnesses. I would claim anxiety, depression and PTSD as if they were my children. I didn't openly talk about them, but I recognized them as a part of who I was.

It was just within the last six months that my mindset changed. You see, I was convinced that I would never overcome them, so acceptance was all I had left to accomplish. I so easily labeled myself a victim of something I could not control- a chemical imbalance that I drew from the deck at birth. I felt isolated and alone nearly my entire life, even though I was surrounded by incredible people who loved me. The problem was that no one knew or could understand the restlessness going on in my head- the constant stream of negative thoughts prevented me from accepting the love all my friends thought I was receiving that they were giving to me.

I tried medication and it sucked. I worked my way up to a higher dose each month, and I expected the pain to go away. It did, don't get me wrong, but accompanied by the absence of the many feelings I once had were migraines and nausea and sleepless nights. Deepened isolation, lack of focus, loss of appetite and tremors that made me feel weird and self conscious and unlike the rest of the world.

My doctor said it was normal and that the side effects would subside, but after months of my hands shaking uncontrollably I started to doubt that they really knew what was best for my body.

And I don't mean this in a bitter, negative way. Doctors help so many people, and they are trained to treat diseases through medication. It wasn't that they were knowingly giving me something that they didn't really believe would help me or something they thought would harm me. My doctor encouraged me to stick with it, throwing out statistics about the number of people it has helped and the average amount of time it takes for the human body to adjust to this type of medication. The focus on numbers and statistics overruled my intuition and my own feelings. It had been over a year, and I noticed the difference in who those drugs made me. I knew deep down it wasn't what was best for me personally.

I think it was my lack of empathy while on the drug that made me recognize I didn't want it anymore. I loved the way I could connect with and relate to people when they were hurting, and the little pills I took with a glass of water every morning robbed me of that gift. It made me feel like a more boring, vacant version of myself; as if my spirit, feelings and personality had decided to pack up and leave my body and all that was left was this physical being, simply going through the motions day to day.

And ever since those little pills, I haven't been the same as I was before taking them. I haven't given up on finding that old me, though. I work to find that person even harder, every single day.

I write this because I know medication isn't for everyone. If it is working for you, don't stop. Do what helps you, but don't allow it to be your crutch. Medication of this kind is meant to be a temporary fix, not a long-term aid that you become reliant upon.

If you are struggling with a mental illness and you don't feel like medication is right for you, listen to your body. You have choices in this season of recovery. Recognizing that there is something wrong is step number one. Knowing you were not made to feel isolated, afraid and anxious every waking moment was not what God intended when He created you, but is where healing begins.

Pills and therapy are not for everyone. If you don't want a doctor to help you, you need to commit to helping yourself. You are sick, so you do need some form of medication. Now whether that is yoga twice a week, changing your diet to fuel your body with healthier, more natural energy, meditation or prayer for 20 minutes a day, or simply coming up with a regular exercise schedule that you stick to- you have the ability to choose. Take your passion and let it be your medicine. If you're a book worm, heading to a quiet space you can be alone to get lost in a book a couple times a week might be your best option. If you're an art junky, escape to the nearest art museum or make time to create yourself. Go hammocking outdoors in a pretty spot if that's your idea of serenity. Writers, write. Bakers, bake. Runners, run. Whatever feeds your soul, do that.

And most importantly, don't identify with your disease. At the end of the day, it is not who you are. It is only a small portion of what makes up all of you. You are stronger than you think, and if you have faith, you have everything you need to beat this. I'm on your side.

Cover Image Credit: Jen VerMeulen

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I'd Rather Be Single Than Settle – Here Is Why Being Picky Is Okay

They're on their best behavior when you're dating.
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Dating nowadays described in one word: annoying.

What's even more annoying? when people tell you that you're being too "picky" when it comes to dating. Yes, from an outside perspective sometimes that's exactly what it looks like; however, when looking at it from my perspective it all makes sense.

I've heard it all:

"He was cute, why didn't you like him?"

"You didn't even give him a chance!"

"You pay too much attention to the little things!"

What people don't understand is that it's OKAY to be picky when it comes to guys. For some reason, girls in college freak out and think they're supposed to have a boyfriend by now, be engaged by the time they graduate, etc. It's all a little ridiculous.

However, I refuse to put myself on a time table such as this due to the fact that these girls who feel this way are left with no choice but to overlook the things in guys that they shouldn't be overlooking, they're settling and this is something that I refuse to do.

So this leaves the big question: What am I waiting for?

Well, I'm waiting for a guy who...

1. Wants to know my friends.

Blessed doesn't even begin to describe how lucky I am to have the friends that I do.

I want a guy who can hang out with my friends. If a guy makes an effort to impress your friends then that says a lot about him and how he feels about you. This not only shows that he cares about you but he cares about the people in your life as well.

Someone should be happy to see you happy and your friends contribute to that happiness, therefore, they should be nothing more than supportive and caring towards you and your friendships.

2. Actually, cares to get to know me.

Although this is a very broad statement, this is the most important one. A guy should want to know all about you. He should want to know your favorite movie, favorite ice cream flavor, favorite Netflix series, etc. Often, (the guys I get stuck on dates with) love to talk about themselves: they would rather tell you about what workout they did yesterday, what their job is, and what they like to do rather than get to know you.

This is something easy to spot on the first date, so although they may be "cute," you should probably drop them if you leave your date and can recite everything about their life since the day they were born, yet they didn't catch what your last name was.

3. How they talk about other women.

It does not matter who they're talking about, if they call their ex-girlfriend crazy we all know she probably isn't and if she is it's probably their fault.

If they talk bad about their mom, let's be honest, if they're disrespecting their mother they're not going to respect you either. If they mention a girl's physical appearances when describing them. For example, "yeah, I think our waitress is that blonde chick with the big boobs"

Well if that doesn't hint they're a complete f* boy then I don't know what else to tell you. And most importantly calling other women "bitches" that's just disrespectful.

Needless to say, if his conversations are similar to ones you'd hear in a frat house, ditch him.

4. Phone etiquette.

If he can't put his phone down long enough to take you to dinner then he doesn't deserve for you to be sitting across from him.

If a guy is serious about you he's going to give you his undivided attention and he's going to do whatever it takes to impress you and checking Snapchat on a date is not impressive. Also, notice if his phone is facedown, then there's most likely a reason for it.

He doesn't trust who or what could pop up on there and he clearly doesn't want you seeing. Although I'm not particularly interested in what's popping up on their phones, putting them face down says more about the guy than you think it does.

To reiterate, it's okay to be picky ladies, you're young, there's no rush.

Remember these tips next time you're on a date or seeing someone, and keep in mind: they're on their best behavior when you're dating. Then ask yourself, what will they be like when they're comfortable? Years down the road? Is this what I really want? If you ask yourself these questions you might be down the same road I have stumbled upon, being too picky.. and that's better than settling.

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Buying New Clothes Every Month Has Been The Key To Helping Me Become Happy With My Body Again

Loving my body in new outfits has boosted my self image so much.

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Being body-positive has been really hard for me to do throughout 2019, despite there being an overwhelming surge in body-positivity around me, whether through my friends and family or YouTube. I look in the mirror and what I see is someone I want to make a jean size or two smaller like in the past. That being said, I've slowly been coming around to accepting the body I have now, instead of bashing it constantly. A key way I've come to accept the body I'm in now is through buying myself something new every month, like a new T-shirt or a pair of jeans or sneakers that help me see myself in a positive light. When I'm in a new outfit, I feel invincible. I don't think about how pudgy my stomach is, or about the hair I have growing in random places, like my neck or on my nose (yes, not just in, but ON too).

My bank account tends to suffer as of recently because of this, but it's worth it when I can genuinely feel good in what I am wearing every day. I like to wake up and think about how many outfits I can put together, ready to post my #OOTD for Snapchat without caring what anyone thinks. I've let social media dictate how I feel about myself more than I care to admit. I see how perfect all the models are in everything they're wearing from brands I know and love, yet when I try the same thing on, it's a whole different ugly story.

I don't enjoy trying things on to avoid the shame I feel when things don't fit me right, or if something that I thought would flatter me actually makes me look like a sack of potatoes. Instagram has really hurt my body image a lot — enough to make me delete it for a week after one post sent me spiraling. Going through those bumps made me finally realize it's not my fault if something doesn't fit. Sizes range depending on the item, it's the clothing items fault, not mine. Now that I see that, it's easier to brush off something not fitting me as it should. I know my size very well in the stores I frequent the most, so it's easier for me to pick out things I know will look good and not have to worry about the sizing issue.

Buying yourself something new is not something you should limit to every few months or longer. You shouldn't be afraid to go out of your comfort zone price wise every once and a while either. Coupons exist, stories always offer you them when you first sign up to receive emails and even texts. You can be crafty and still get a high price item for less. If you treat yourself to cheap things, you won't feel half as good as you want to. Granted, sticking to a limit is important but there's no shame in going over the limit every once and a while.

I love shopping as much as I love country music and writing short stories — a lot. Yes, I get yelled at almost every time I get something new. I need to save my money for important things, like for my sorority or for medical issues that could suddenly arise, or for utilities at my house next year off campus.

However, my mental well-being is not something I can ignore.

I can't push the good feelings aside to save 30 or 40 bucks a month. I don't want to feel as low as I've felt about myself anymore. I'm tired of feeling sad or angry at who I am, and I want to learn how to accept myself as I am. Buying myself something new, like clothes, is what offers a positive light to view myself under.

Whether you treat yourself to dinner at your favorite restaurant, or to face masks, or to a new movie when it comes out — don't be afraid to do it. Put yourself first and you'll realize your worth and how much you've been ignoring it in the face of poor confidence.

My confidence isn't back up to where it used to be, but it's getting there.

It may not be the most cash efficient method of self-love, but my body positivity is better than it was a few months ago. Aerie and American Eagle have really helped me become happier with my body, and I can't thank them enough for being more inclusive for people like me who are learning to love themselves again in a new body.

There is a light at the end of the tunnel for all of us hoping to promote our own body positivity, and it could all start with a simple purchase from your favorite store after you read this.

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