It’s been a while. Hope everyone had a good, productive week and are ready to kick back and finally enjoy the weekend!
Today’s topic is something that is really personal to me, and many others I’m sure. Something that is severely overlooked in the day and age that we live in, and hasn’t been taken nearly as serious as it should. It’s the topic of mental health.
As always, I’m going to start off with my personal experiences with my mental health, then go into my general thoughts on the topic.
This is something that very few people know about me. I’ve really only told a hand full of people, because it’s not exactly something to brag about; however, it is something I feel that I want and need to shed some light on at least once, in depth.
It’s something I think I’ve actually dealt with on and off for a number of years, maybe 4 or 5 years actually; but it wasn’t until about a year ago that it got really bad, and I realized I had a problem, which is what in particular I’m going to be talking about today.
There were so many different things going on with myself internally that I didn’t understand how or why it was happening. But I’ve been dealing with Anxiety and depression for some time now. Now, thankfully neither of these things are or were ever to extremely serious extents. And what I mean by that, because I know many people when they think depression, their thoughts immediately turn to suicide; so thankfully, it has never gotten to that extent, or even just suicidal thoughts, for me, and both are somewhat mild I guess you could say.
Many of the most common symptoms for depression are agitation, irritability, social isolation, excessive sleepiness as a result over-sleeping or lack thereof, excessive hunger or lack thereof, lack of concentration, excessive weight gain or loss, hopelessness, constantly feeling insecure about yourself, and loss of interest or pleasure in activities (name a few), all of which I had.
As I said earlier, I was going through a lot of these things (i.e. always feeling down, over-eating, isolating myself, etc.), and didn’t understand a lot of it because I never used to be like that, and all of it had been sort of accumulating over the years. But during my last year of college was when I noticed how immensely it was actually effecting me. It got to the point where I was skipping days upon days of classes and coming up with the most insane excuses for my professors because I literally had NO motivation to go and/or do anything. I would spend days in my room and whenever I didn’t have or didn’t go to class, or when I was off from work, I would only come out to go buy food or something. In all my spare time all I would really do is eat, sleep, and watch T.V., literally all day long.
Some people would say that I probably did all this to myself, and I probably did to some extent, but I also have other reasons that I know played a role in it all. There were things going on with family, school, my health, and work that were not only wearing me down, but also left me feeling like I was stuck in such a repetitive routine that I absolutely hated.
As I’ve mentioned before in previous posts, school wore me down a lot. That played a big role in the way I was feeling. It was odd though, because I loved being able to dorm, especially in the apartment that I was in, it gave me a huge sense of independence that I absolutely loved; but I hated the classes part of it, which I know obviously I could not have one without the other.
Another part of me feeling the way that I did was how much I was working. As I mentioned in my Health & Fitness post, my last year of college I was working at The Cheesecake Factory, which in my opinion, working in a restaurant was FAR worse and much more time consuming then working retail, although working in a restaurant could be considered retail in a sense, but I’m talking clothing stores and such. If you read my Health post, you know that I was working pretty much everyday of each week, and they would be ridiculously long hours. People sort of joke all the time about getting slaved at work, but working at Cheesecake was the purest definition of that. Monday through Thursday I would have classes, and typically end up working from 4 or 5pm- to 9pm if not closing at 11pm. Friday through Sunday, I was working 11:30am (opening) until about 9-10pm sometimes later. Now don’t get me wrong, to an extent I liked it, they were giving me all of those hours all the time because they liked and trusted the way I worked, and in the long run it looked great in my paychecks, which was great, but after a while it did wear me down tremendously. I was exhausted 90% of the time, and it got to the point where I had no motivation to go to school or work, because any type of little free-time I had I just wanted to sleep; OR I would try to create my own free-time by not going to classes or calling out of work.
It was bad. My tiredness and lack of motivation got to the point where I was having more bad days than I was good ones. I was getting so freaked out about what was going on with myself. I just truly felt hopeless overall, and like I didn’t know what to do with myself anymore.
I never told anyone when I started feeling the way that I did, because I didn’t even fully know or understand what was going on, so how was I even going to attempt to tell other people?
So for about a month I kept it all to myself; the only one who sort of knew was my boyfriend, not because I told him anything really, but because he saw the way I was acting and had a feeling that something was wrong. Then when I started to realize something was REALLY wrong, I did my own research on it all, what I was feeling, etc., (yeah I guess I was self-diagnosing, and they say not to do that, but I needed SOME type of answer at the time), and sure enough I got my answer. So I started talking to him about it, he asked his questions, I would answer to the best of my ability, and we just talked about it all until there wasn’t much left else to say. He was concerned obviously, and I threw around the idea to him about telling my parents, although I was scared about it. He knew how nervous I was about it, and so he advised to think it thoroughly through before doing anything, and so I did and came to the conclusion that I would hold off from telling them for a while.
I have a variety of reasons for my being nervous to tell them. And everything I say is in no way, shape, form a way to bash them. It’s just my thoughts, and how I felt through it all. My parents are very old-school, so they don’t believe in a lot of things like depression and the like, especially for people my age if not younger. They believe in the whole “don’t think about it, just ignore it and it’ll go away” method. And I guess I don’t really blame them because they’ve never had to deal with things like that before within themselves or their families. They believe that people my age should never be depressed, because what do we actually have to be depressed for? Personally, I think it’s more an ‘in-denial’ thing, that they don’t necessarily want to believe their child is going through that, because they don’t want me to HAVE to go through that, which in itself is understandable of course, but it doesn’t mean what I’m feeling isn’t there, and I can’t just hide it. I mean I had for a long time, but not anymore.
Although I didn’t immediately decide to tell them, I did end up going to someone else in my family that I thought would be really helpful throughout it all, and that was my brother. I went to him because I figure I would be able talk to him about it, especially since he’s a psychologist, so I thought it would help. Sure enough, it did. I spoke to him about it, and his initial reaction was to be expected: anxious, worried, asking me a million and one question, etc. But there was a certain sense of comfort I got from speaking to him about it all. I also talked to him about the idea of bringing it up to my parents, I told him my concerns with it, but also why I felt like they should know. And him, just like my boyfriend, didn’t force me to do it or make me feel bad for having my thoughts about it, he simply just supported whatever I would end up deciding because I’m the one dealing with it.
I figure if I spoke to my mom about it, she would be more supportive and understanding then my dad would be, because although they both had that kind of old-school mentality, it was more him than it was her.
Sure enough, I made the call and started talking to my mom about it all. At first, her initial reaction was extremely frustrating and annoying, she did and said exactly what I was worried about that whole time. She told me not to think about it, just ignore it and it would go away, she told me I’m probably just over-thinking it, I just need to get up, stop being lazy and be more active to get myself out of that. And above all, I felt like she was trying to scare me when she brought up that if I went to a psychologist and everything ended up being true, they would probably end up making me take medication to stop it/make me feel better. I was so pissed off at everything she was saying. Is she serious right now? THAT’S her biggest concern at the moment? I then proceeded to let her know that everything she was saying was exactly why I hadn’t wanted to tell her or my dad about anything, because those were the last things I wanted/needed to hear.
And then I hung up.
Following that day I didn’t want to speak to her or anyone else about how I was feeling again. With each day that passed she would constantly try to ask things like so how are you feeling? Are you better today? And I would give her the same answer all the time, “I’m fine.”
The way I was feeling would come and go a lot, and hit me at the most random times, so it was hard to give her or anyone a solid answer about how I was feeling, because in that moment I was okay, but an hour later I would feel completely different. A few days later, she told me that I should go see and talk to someone about how I was feeling, but I didn’t know how any of that worked or how to go about even finding someone, so I was super skeptical about it all. I ended up finding out that on campus at Purchase, they had this place called the Wellness Center, which I sort of knew about, but didn’t know exactly the type of programs and such that it offered. After looking into more information for that, I came to learn that it was an entire building for things like what I was feeling and those that are in far worse conditions. So, I booked an appointment to speak to a fellow psychologist.
Therapy? Really?? Did I really just book an appointment for that? I considered skipping the appointment altogether and coming up with an excuse for why I didn’t go, but then I figured I should at least give it a shot once and see what happens.
Man, people aren’t kidding when they say that shit gets intense.
It was only an hour and a half, and from that, we managed to touch upon A LOT of hidden ground that I hadn’t spoken about to many people. Some of which is a little too personal to bring up in this post right now.
It freaked me out though, and I didn’t like how vulnerable I felt speaking to this woman that I didn’t know for a hole in the wall. She asked me to book another appointment for the following week, and I did, but I never showed up to that follow-up.
The way I was feeling kept coming and going, and it wasn’t like a headache that I could just take a Tylenol and it would go away within half hour or so. Sometimes it would last a few minutes, sometimes a few hours, and sometimes it would last an entire day. It was hard, but I kept taking it day by day. It wasn’t until my graduation that I finally let it known to everyone what I had been going through the past few months in an Instagram post. Yes, I know it was probably weird and cheesy for me to have done that on there, but it was a post expressing my gratitude and what I felt/thought was strength after finally graduating.
Things are a bit different, I’m back home and closer to my friends and family, and have been able to do constructive things to keep myself busy to not think about the negatives. I get to read my books whenever I want, I get to come home from a long day’s work and not have to worry about homework, tests, or quizzes, and I just generally have more time for myself. I’m in a much better place now, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t still struggle with the issues that I had, I still have my days where it hits me hard and I just feel really hopeless. And days where my anxiety attempts to get the best of me and keep me from stepping outside and doing the things I have to, but I try to fight through it each and every time to ensure that I live my life the way I want to, not by the things I go through that I know will eventually will pass, even if I never know how long it’ll take next time.
Following my one and only therapy appointment, during the last few weeks of school, I was watching Thirteen Reasons Why. Although I found it to be a really good, it did nothing at all to help me whatsoever, if anything, it made it a million times worse. To this day, I’m not exactly sure why, but all I know is, when I finished watching the show, it freaked me out so much that I couldn’t sleep for like a week. And I think the reason it freaked me out was because of how weirdly relatable it was to me. No, I never thought about suicide, and no I didn’t have thirteen reasons as to why I was depressed, but the way Hannah kept trying at life, with people, work, her parents, etc., and it kept always seeming to fail, got me. Also, how much she thought and expected for her parents to figure it all out and help her without judging her, but they didn’t got me too. There were so many signs there she gave off, the ways she was feeling, and not a single person caught on to any of it.
It’s heartbreaking because there are way too many people in the world that are going through or have been through similar situations where they’re depressed and going through really heavy/deep stuff and they feel like they have no one to be there for them. Which, as a result, causes them more often than not to turn to the gruesome alternative of suicide.
I’m not writing this post to get any type of pity from anyone, or to have anyone write me after reading this and ask if I’m okay, and if I ever need anything to let them know; I’m writing this post because I know so many people that have gone through some serious shit, that they’ve felt like in the moment of it happening, they have absolutely no one to talk to. They feel like their alone, which as result causes them to handle things alone. It may not mean much for you to see or hear, but YOU ARE NOT ALONE. And I’m sorry that you feel alone right now, or that you did, but you have to know/understand that as cliche as it is, there is ALWAYS someone there, around you, or that you know who cares. Talk to SOMEONE, a family member, a friend, a significant other; someone WILL care. You don’t have to go through anything alone, and if you were like me, that you don’t know how to explain whatever is you’re going through, that’s okay. You can figure it out along the way, someone can help you figure it out. But you have to talk to someone, don’t wait until it’s too late to do or say something.
And parents, friends, strangers: watch out for the signs. There are always signs there. Yeah, sometimes it may be nothing, but other times it could be a whole lot, and they really do need you. Even if you may be wrong with what you think you see, at least you showed you cared and would be there for them. Don’t force anything from their end, but if they’re going to you and talking to you about something, hear them out, whether they’re old or young. They may not be exaggerating like you think, and they could know/feel a lot more than you would expect, and with whatever it is they’re going through, they could use all the love, help, and support they could get. Overall, just be mindful. Be mindful of what you say and do to people because you really have no idea how big or small of an impact you can have on a person, whether positive or negative.
Food for thought. Enjoy the weekend everyone!
-Xoxo Leo Girl.