Mental health is such an important aspect of our lives. Yet, we don’t care for it as much as we should.
Growing up I was surrounded by the most badass women EVER. I saw them handle all their problem like a BO$$. So, as I got older I learned to apply everything that I had seen them do. But, the truth is you can never truly apply every single thing that you learn. Be it what you learn from school or even life lessons that you’ve acquired over the years.
I am someone who has suffered from mental health issues. Till now I still do. Be it waves of depression or anxiety. I have my off days just like the rest of the world. But, what I’ve started to accept is that it is ABSOLUTELY OKAY for me to feel down.
Sadly, we all have been accustomed to “sucking things up”. Which can be an extremely dangerous thing to do. We are human and feeling emotional – be it positive or negative – reminds us that we are alive. Sometimes it doesn’t feel like it, but I like to think that those moments of depression and anxiety that I experience time to time make me a stronger person.
My off days don’t define me, just like your off days don’t define you. And despite what the world teaches us about how to handle our emotions, we aren’t broken people for feeling the way we do. We are survivors. We are warriors. Our journey may not be as cookie cutter as it seems but that’s exactly what make us better people.
My Battle Story
Like I had previously mentioned, I was raised by Amazon Warriors. My mother, aunts, and sisters in Islam were the type of women who made me aspire to be the very best that I could be. The type of girl who wouldn’t falter in the face of trouble. Or wouldn’t let anyone silence her voice. I wanted to be the girl with the iron armor. Unbreakable. Untouchable.
So, that’s what I had become. I gave everything and more in everything that I did. From my school life, to family life and everything in between. I aced my classes, won speech competitions and I made my own path whenever I hit a road block. I didn’t let anything stop me from achieving what I wanted to achieve. Through it all, I had perfected hiding my pain.
I learned to smile through my worries and stresses. To project all my emotions into my poetry. Bottling everything up was working,so I continued to do it. My logic was why change my tactic if it was working. Funny thing is, it wasn’t working.
Eventually, all those emotions caught up to me and overwhelmed me. So, I decided to speak to my English teacher and had told her everything that I was feeling. I had told her how I could no longer sleep at night because I was so consumed by worry and fear. I had told her how I no longer had motivation to do anything – from getting out of bed, getting dressed, to interacting with people. My armor had broken and I felt lost. So, she had advised me to open up to my mom.
Typically, my mom would be the first person I run to about anything. Except, she had just given birth to my youngest brother and I didn’t want to add any more to her already full plate. Despite that, I had listened to my teacher’s advice and opened up to her. The very next day she had brought me to my doctor. After a couple of sessions, I was diagnosed with severe depression. It got so bad that I was prescribed “happy” pills.
Slowly in time, I healed. I learned to talk about my feelings and to let people in. I embraced the breakdowns and adopted a much more positive mindset. Despite everything that I had grown up seeing and being,my experience with depression taught me to value my mental health.
The Complete and Honest Truth
Grow through everything you go through
My battle with depression and anxiety continues till this day. There are days where I can’t bring myself to get up and out of my bed. Or even to interact with my own family. Despite my struggles I am thankful that I am surrounded by people who care for me enough to be patient with me on my dark days.
I say this because talking about your emotions and opening up when you feel down, even to those closest to you is hard. Admitting to feeling weak isn’t something that anyone wants to do. We were raised to always “suck it up” and our cries for help are always silenced by being told to “quit our whining”. Still, regardless of those phrases people will surprise you.
Until, I opened up about my pain I didn’t think anyone would care. Suffering alone is scary. The only thing scarier though, is the thought that your fear that no one cares is actually true.
But here’s the thing, the people who truly care for you will accept you regardless of your dark days. They will understand that there are days when your mental health becomes your number one priority. And that might mean that you will choose to stay home and practice self care rather than go out. Or that you will learn to be more open with what doesn’t spark joy within you rather than biting your tongue to keep everyone else happy.
So, take a leap and talk to someone. Be it someone close to you or even just a mental health helpline. You’d be surprise on how helpful acknowledging that you need help can be.
Let’s talk about Mental Health, Baby
Mental illness has no face. It is something that can effect anyone. Young or old. Black or white. Religious or Not. Yet, despite that people think that a person who suffers from mental health could be easily identifiable. Which isn’t always the case.
Depression can be hidden behind a smile. Anxiety can be hidden behind false confidence. Anorexia can be hidden behind a lie. Not every illness is obvious. This is our reality.
It is definitely a great thing that we now live in a time where mental health is slowly becoming acknowledged. So, more and more resources are becoming available for those who need it. And the topic of speaking about ones mental illness is becoming less and less taboo.
This growth within our society is something that I as a survivor of mental illness am grateful for. Because, despite feeling alone from time to time I am aware that I won’t be shamed for feeling human. We all deserve to live in a world where feeling down is okay.
Our minds are what help us navigate our day to day lives. They are what helps us perceive this world as something that we can survive. So, why should you be ashamed about speaking up about what you feel. We care so much about our physical health, but our minds are what keep us going. So, why don’t we value it as highly as we do our physical health?
Current Status: Surviving Life’s Rollercoaster
We are all constantly evolving. Be it because we are in a new grade at school or because we’ve changed our old habits.
Personally, I am currently trying to survive university. I’ve experienced so much yet so little already. Being a few months in and I’ve already had my fair share of mental breakdowns. There have been times when I’ve questioned my own capabilities and if I truly deserved to be in university. But if there is one thing that I have learned through my journey fighting mental illness, it’s to always look for the hidden silver lining.
My silver lining in all of this. I am evolving. I have new friends, experiences, and moments to look back on. Not only that, but I have learned to let go of anything that stands in the way of my mental health. Which, let me tell you can be pretty hard. Especially because we live in a time were FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is a big thing.
Learn to let go. Whether its moments or people. Sometimes, letting go is the only way for us to thrive in life. Remember that there will always be another dance, party, or hangout. And that you will make more friends throughout your life. No one and no experience is worth your mental health.
Learn to thrive and not just survive
– Western University Alumni
No matter where we are in life, there is no guarantee that it will be a smooth journey. By accepting that ahead of time we will be protecting ourselves from a false sense of comfort. Making ourselves aware that hardship is everywhere and that nothing worth having comes easy will leave us with a better sense of reality.
Words of Encouragement
Yes, the world can be a scary place. It can also be quite hard to survive in it. But don’t give up. There are people out there who care for you and who love you. So, if you ever feel down project those emotions into something, anything. Talk to someone, draw, or go for a run.
Also even though there are very few things in life that are constant remember that you are a constant in your own life. That’s why before you go and give 110% to everything and everyone around you, make sure you give yourself that first.
Life passes by so fast. Before we know it we’re already in our mid-twenties and unaware of how we got there. So make a decision today. A decision to let go of everything that’s weighing you down. To find the silver lining in your situation. Take the risk that you’ve been holding yourself back from. Accept the possibility that where you are in life isn’t the best possible place for you. And if it is then, great. If not do something about it.
Lastly, it is ABSOLUTELY OKAY to feel sad and happy within the span of a couple hours. Being happy one minute doesn’t invalidate your prior sadness. It just proves that you are a human being who is learning to thrive in their surroundings.
And NEVER forget that you are a warrior. You are more than just your dark days. You are a human being who’s fought their demons and lived to tell the tale. There are people who love and care for you regardless of what you’ve experienced and gone through. You aren’t broken.That’s why you deserve to live a life without being held back by your fears and worries.