Alright, here it goes.
I said I was going to use this blog as a place to keep it real and to hopefully be helpful to others. Sure, I share photography tips and lessons I have learned in business. And I truly hope those things help people! But there is way more that I have to share. So, today I am sharing with you my journey with mental health, self acceptance and love and medication.
We’ve all, at some point, felt anxious or depressed. It is part of life. There are so many stresses and factors that go into it but human emotion is a normal thing. We experience emotion on different levels and deal with those emotions differently. It is the joy of humanity, everyone being different.
So after years of dealing with various circumstances, I didn’t think anything was “wrong” with me. I don’t have anxiety or depression. I was just feeling anxious or depressed.
That’s what I told myself anyways.
Now I have never been a fan of using analogies that highlight that feelings are invalid because someone else “has it worse”. Your problems shouldn’t be minimized by someone elses! We can’t compare our stories. We are all at different places in our life and in different situations. So I wasn’t necessarily thinking that I can’t be depressed or have anxiety because my situation “wasn’t as bad” as anothers. But I was thinking I can’t be depressed or anxious because it is just not who I am.
I am outgoing. I love to laugh! There are so many wonderful friends and family members in my life that make me feel truly loved and supported daily. There have been amazing experiences in my life that I am so grateful for. Each day is exciting and new. I am optimistic.
When I thought of the things that describe me, well… anxious and depressed just don’t make the list.
And now, after years of taking daily medication for these issues, they still aren’t on the list.
You see, I got to a place that was dark and bad. Without getting into too much detail, I will say that the worst part was when I stopped sleeping. Almost completely. Now, this can really screw with a person. At least it did for me. I couldn’t sleep more than maybe 1-3 hours a night, tops. I was consumed with anxiety.
About what? Well, everything and nothing.
Eventually it got to a place where it had been days that I hadn’t slept. Which, in turn, caused me to have no appetite. It also caused me to be extremely irritable, emotional and made my already lingering depression significantly worse.
I felt like I was constantly swimming against a current, yet I also felt like I was floating aimlessly with no shore in site.
I knew there was a problem but I wasn’t going to face it. It was just a funk. Something I’d come out of. A bad day, week, month. Whatever.
Then John stepped in.
Oh, this man loves me. And I am so grateful for him. He has really stuck through some shit with me. Excuse my language, but it’s true.
So after what I believe was day 10 of little to no sleep, he insisted I see a doctor. Even if just for help with getting a sleep aid. He was worried, he was concerned. He was also incredible patient, supportive and loving. Even more than normal during this time. So, even though I didn’t want to go to a doctor (because again, nothings wrong.. right?!), I did it for him. I figured that I would go in, get prescribed a sleep aid, have a good nights rest and feel like my normal self.
In comes my doctor. He was my general practitioner and also a friend of my mom, so he knows me fairly well. He knew this was all coming from something more than just a lack of sleep. He started asking more questions. More and more. Getting in depth, personal and trying to find more of a root to the problem.
While he did agree I needed a sleep aid, he also knew that was a bandaid for a bigger problem.
That day I got prescribed an antidepressant and anti anxiety medication. Two pills I did not want to take.
There were a lot of tears.. a lot. And it took a while for me to actually get these prescriptions filled and start taking them. Even then, it was a struggle. Each night, as I took my medication, I would battle with myself. This stigma I have learned to believe. That something was wrong with me, that I was ‘crazy’ (a word that has now been banned in this household) and all the things we are conditioned to believe about mental health.
The thing is, it’s a spectrum. It isn’t black and white.
Some people deal with mental health struggles their whole life to a point of it being de-habilitating and all consuming. Some people never need any type of help or even have symptoms severe enough to recognize there is an issue. It is just like any other type of physical health issue. Some people struggle with chronic illness that becomes terminal. Some people live their entire life with nothing worse than a headache.
We are all different.
So I have spent the last two years (yes, I have now been on daily meds for two years) figuring out where I am on that spectrum. Getting okay with that and getting help. When I think of the list of things that describe me, anxious and depressed still don’t make the cut. What does? Ambitious, hard working, creative, loyal, dedicated, auntie. That last one probably being the most important 😉
I don’t want people to think differently of me. That is something I still greatly struggle with. I don’t want peoples preconceived ideas about mental health, depression or anxiety to change their view on me. But I share this in hopes that it will not change their view on me, but their view on the world.
It is my hope that this helps one person realize either 1) that they are not along in their struggle. Whatever their struggle may be. Or 2) I am normal, I am real, I am me and mental health struggles are a real thing that normal people deal with. It doesn’t make me crazy, or weird or dangerous or anything at all. It is a part of me, it is not all of me. It isn’t even a big part of me!
I do have to take one quick moment to thank my support system. I won’t go through names because I don’t know who wants to be publicly identified on this platform. But I will say that I was so scared to tell anyone about my struggles, about my taking medication, about my good days or my bad ones. And now, looking back, I am so glad I did. My support system has made me whole again and I cannot thank them enough for loving me through this and continuing to help me grow and improve.
Now, one last thing I want to share. Over these two years I have changed medications, dosages and other things. All through the help and guidance of licensed medical professionals. I have leaned on my support system and worked very hard to get to a better place. It is a daily struggle but it is worth it. Now, if you think medication is not the right thing for you, I am not here to tell you otherwise. It may not be the right thing for you! And that is okay too. It just happened to be a good thing for me. That is all.
There are a lot of ways to deal with mental health issues and I am happy to be a resource to people who are looking to improve their life and journey with self love. But I am not telling anyone what will work or not. There is no one answer to ‘fix it’ because (as I have said many times and will continue to say) we are all different.
With that, if you are looking for help or want to talk to someone call 1-800-273-8255. It is the national suicide prevention hotline. And no, it is not just for someone who is suicidal. That’s a whole other discussion topic, but whether you are feeling like you are going to self harm or you are just feeling like you need a helping hand, call them. The lifeline is there as a resource to not judge, to listen and to help.
And with that, it is time to take my meds.