To My Younger Self Struggling With Depression, It's A Journey That —With Love — Can Be Tackled

To My Younger Self Struggling With Depression, It's A Journey That —With Love — Can Be Tackled

Your mental health isn't something to hide, it's ok.

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Dear younger self,

I see you sitting on your bed, tear stains across your face, makeup smeared on your pillow. I know your heart feels like it's going to burst out of it's chest and all you can feel is numb. I know you're confused, wondering why you feel this way.

It's okay.

I know you're scared. You can't seem to find the answers or piece together why you feel like the world is crumbling at your feet. I'm here to tell you it's okay.

It's okay that you feel like that. I know it hurts and I know you're scared. It's okay. The best advice I can give you is to talk to mom. Mom can help you so much more than you realize. I know you think she won't understand, but she does, more than you could ever know.

I know you feel like the pain will never go away. As if there will never be a time where you feel okay for more than a couple days. You will. As you get older, the pain is going to fade. I can't promise you that everyday is going to be like walking through the tulips, but your better days will outnumber your bad.

You'll find yourself meeting new people and trying new things, and falling in love with your life along the way. Your unexplained sadness will vanish into the cloud of darkness around your head. You will be okay.

This dark rut that you're in is going to make you stronger than you could imagine. After this, you'll be able to take on the world. Your energy will grow, your smile will return. You are your own kind of beautiful and soon you'll start to see it. Your boyfriend, who you absolutely adore, is going to give you the same energy you give him. And it's going to feel amazing.

You are going to tackle an amazing journey towards your degree. You're going to have not 1 but 3 different jobs that you love. Your name is going to be known around the world for your choreography (you'll be surprised when you learn what kind).

You are an amazing girl. I know it's hard. I know you don't know what to do. This is one of the most confusing times in your life because, while your life is great, you can't help but sit in silence at night, wondering why you feel so numb.

Honey, you have depression, anxiety and even P.T.S.D. You struggle with mental illnesses that are hard to understand, especially when they're happening to you. Constantly wondering what's wrong with you, when in reality, you're just fighting your own demons. You have a fight against a hidden evil that not many can see you have. You'll continue to put a smile on your face day by day because deep inside you know your own strength.

And you know what else?

Take a deep breath, look yourself in the mirror and say...

You're going to be okay.

IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS AND/OR TENDENCIES, REACH OUT IMMEDIATELY. NO ONE SHOULD GO THROUGH THIS ALONE. SUICIDE IS SERIOUS.

National Suicide Hotline: 1 (800) 273-8255 - available 24/7

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11 Lies Your Anxiety Tells You Daily, And How To Combat Them

"Hello, I'm anxiety here to ruin your day with thoughts you can't control."

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"Hello, I'm anxiety here to ruin your day with thoughts you can't control."

For those of those who suffer from anxiety disorders, thoughts are often the root of the problem. Whether it be reliving negative experiences or memories, the worst case scenario, or simply worrying about what other people think of you, these thoughts normally seem perfectly logical to you at the moment.

Even if you recognize they aren't, it can be hard to roll back those thoughts and replace them with positive thoughts. This list contains common thoughts among anxiety suffers as well as my own thoughts and how I have learned to combat them.

I am not a professional. I am simply writing from my own experience with generalized anxiety disorder. I cannot speak to other disorders and am simply trying to share the ways that help me cope in the hopes they can help someone else.

1. "You're a bad person."

To combat this thought I actively try to do good things. I tell myself that I am certainly not as bad as [insert objectively bad person here]. I distract myself with media and games I like.

2. "Nobody likes you."

To combat this thought I start by telling myself it isn't true. I tell myself I like myself (this works wonders if it isn't true). I reach out to friends and talk to/ hang out with them as normal to concretely show myself this isn't true.

3. "You aren't as smart as everyone here."

To combat this thought I do one of two things (depending upon my mood and overall mental health at the time).

First, I pose a challenge to myself to become as smart as the other people in the room and actively listen and participate to do so.

Second, I go back through past accomplishments to prove that I am smart and just because I didn't get or understand something immediately doesn't mean I'm less smart than anyone else.

4. "I'm going crazy." 

This is a common thought of anxiety. To combat this one, I look up the symptoms of anxiety and screenshot it to prove to myself that it's just my anxiety and that I am in fact not going crazy.

5. "What if..."

"What if this headache is really a brain tumor?"

"What if I go to the doctor and they think I'm crazy/ faking it?"

"What if my friends are just pretending to like me?"

"What if I'm really just a fraud?"

Whoa, whoa, whoa — stop. As you can tell, this thought process can get out of control quickly. The best way I've found to combat this one is to turn the what-ifs into positives. "What if I get a promotion?" "What if I just have really awesome friends?"

I'm still extremely bad at this, so I typically just have to ride these thoughts out. I often talk to someone without anxiety to see if my thoughts seem logical to them. If they don't, normally it helps to differentiate my anxiety talking vs. my actual thoughts.

"They probably hate me." 

Whether your friend hasn't texted you back for hours or your recent Tinder match seems to be ghosting you, this is almost certainly not true. The best way to combat this is to realize that you are projecting your thoughts onto someone else and that you can't read that person's thoughts. You have no idea what they truly think, therefore, it could be the complete opposite.

While it isn't always comforting to "not know," in this instance, allowing yourself to recognize that your own thoughts are blurring onto your projection of someone else, it can help ease the worry a bit.

7. "Why can't I just calm down? What is wrong with me?" 

Ah, the old, having anxiety about your anxiety. These thoughts are in fact the reason you can't calm down. The best thing to do is to self-calm as much as possible. Take multiple deep breaths. Close your eyes and meditate for a few moments. Distract yourself, if the moment calls for it.

8. "What if I die?" 

This thought can come in many forms. "What if the plane crashes?" "What if I slip on icy roads?" It can also lead to worries about family (both for their safety and leaving them behind), etc. Honestly, I've noticed many things work for this one. If you're on a plane or something similar, statistics can help. Knowing that planes crash very rarely can help you understand that it's very unlikely.

Other things are to accept the prospect of death. This isn't nearly as dark as it sounds. Recognizing you have no control over when you die can help you calm yourself knowing you have no other control over the situation. If all else fails, rely on calming exercises and distraction.

9. "Are they upset with me?"

Again, projecting your worries onto another person can be a dangerous cycle. However, if all else fails, ask the person if they actually upset with you. If it is obvious that they are not upset with you based on other factors, try to tell yourself that you can't read minds and that you are simply projecting your worries about them becoming upset with you onto the person.

10. "I don't deserve to be here/ loved."

This one can usually be defeated with some logic. "I was invited here, I do deserve to be here." "Everyone deserves love, including me." "Lots of people love me and they aren't wrong to." However, this can be extremely hard to believe, but even if you don't believe the thoughts, if you keep telling them to yourself and actively work to believe them, you will.

11. "I'm going to get stuck here." 

Whether your phone is about to die at night in the city, you're in a rickety elevator, or the subway seems to be moving slower than normal, the best way to combat this is just to stay alert and take precautions to avoid the situation. (Turn your phone on low power or airplane mode, take deep breaths, and stay alert). Also, using calming techniques can help until the situation is over.

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To The Girl Who Is Fine With Not Being OK, It's Time To Address Those Issues

It may not have seemed like addressing your issues was a big deal, but addressing them is the first step to resolving them.

bxccann
bxccann
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Confrontation has always driven you: away from your problems, away from your friends, away from yourself. You have become a person who loves helping others, but I ask you this: where is that compassion for yourself?

When things get tough, it's hard to distinguish what exactly may be the root of the issue. Oftentimes, it's easier to clump your emotional disarray into a response like "Well, I'm here," or "I don't know [what the problem is]." That response is where it stops. You find yourself questioning not what the source of these feelings is but rather how you can mitigate the number of questions being thrown your way about how you feel or why you seem so out of it.

You need to take a step back. Reflect. Assess. Process. Proceed.

Nothing good will seem to happen until you take a step back. In some cases, you may need to take a few. You take on new projects, more work, and more responsibilities. Instead of confronting yourself, you are building a shelter around yourself. It's easy to interpret this as moving on - have you thought about the impact?

There could eventually be a time when things go well. Your shelter is secure, warm, and you feel like you can finally breathe after your efforts.

There could also be a time when things do not go well. Your shelter, so trusted, falls. Suddenly, you face the storm that was brewing just outside of its walls. Trapped and scared, you're left to confront the mess and the storm outside, that emotional storm that you have inside of you, or scramble to pick up the pieces.

More often than not, you rebuild. And rebuild. And rebuild.

How many times must you barricade yourself in and not allow yourself to feel before you lose sight of yourself? Each time your shelter falls, the mirror cracks. It doesn't seem so bad at first. A hairline fracture in the glass. Repeat the process enough and there won't be a mirror left at all.

You may not have to pick up the pieces, but rather the shards in order to save it: your self-image. The way you view yourself affects not only the way that others view you but who you are and how you interact with the world and the people around you.

One day, you'll hit an epiphany. You deserve the same care and love that everyone does. You deserve to feel OK.

The storm brewing inside you is terrifying. After spending so long in your makeshift home, it may seem even more daunting.

It's OK to be scared. It's OK to not know what will happen in the eye of the storm. The most important part is that you experience the rain. Dance in it, play in it, and more importantly, accept it.

The rain will cease, and the sun will come. The wave of relief that washes over your skin will leave you wondering why you ever hid from the initial problem in the first place.

The next time you encounter this crossroads of confronting the issue, you may find yourself looking to build that shelter again, and that's alright. You are human, and only you can find the inspiration to address the issue.

When the time comes to bring a little light on yourself, just remember: take a step back. Reflect. Assess. Process. Proceed. Repeat until the problem is solved.

One day, you won't rely on that shelter. I'm rooting for you.

bxccann
bxccann

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