My Mental Health Journey
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
*Please know that this was not easy to write so it definitely wasn't easy to post and share*
I woke up in the middle of the night and could immediately feel something wasn't right. My heart was beating faster than I've ever felt it beat before, my palms were sweaty and I couldn't help but pace back and forth across my room. I literally thought at that moment that my life was coming to an end. I rushed to my parents' room and begged them to take me to the hospital. I wasn't incoherent, but because of the millions of thoughts bombarding me, I could barely get out more than a few sentences.
That night, it felt like my entire world was crashing down around me. I didn’t understand how something like this could be happening when I had just finished celebrating with friends and family a few days before. Everything had been fine, I had just graduated from high school and I was extremely excited for the summer before I went off to college.
I got stopped right in the middle of my excitement.
Imagine meeting someone and immediately wishing you never were acquainted with them. Imagine someone clinging to you as a child clings to their mother. Imagine someone constantly reminding you that with every step you take they would always be right there, wreaking havoc on your life.
That night I was having the first of many panic attacks and the someone- or should I say someone(s)- I’m referring to is anxiety and later on depression. Both of them changed the entire course of my summer, but also brought me to where I am today.
Sleepless nights became a routine, and the bright exposure of the sun creeping through my blinds in the morning became a comforting sign. I had made it another day with anxiety still applying pressure to my life. I couldn't control myself. I tried to get back to the "normal" me every day, but my strength just didn't seem strong enough. The irrational thoughts and fears danced through my mind like an episode of Soul Train.
I wasn't okay. My mental health was suffering immensely.
It felt like I was fighting myself every day and with each blow, I got knocked down deeper into a hole that I thought I would never be able to make it out of. I was tired and for the first time in my life, I was willing to surrender to the thought of no longer existing. I wanted out. My life felt like nothing but dark clouds existed around me and as hard as I tried I just wasn’t seeing the sun soon enough.
I questioned God often. I felt alone. I watched as my friends enjoyed their summers and wondered if they had ever felt what I was feeling. What was wrong with me and why didn't I feel like myself? Why had my mind turned into a playing field of irrational, anxious, suicidal, worry-filled, depressive thoughts? Why did it feel like I had lost all control? Where did my happiness go?
Anxiety and depression didn't just come around for the summer, they stuck with me through freshman year of college and the year after that and the year after that and... Well, you get the point. They became something that I had to not just acknowledge, but actively deal with. I had to take care of my mental health and thus the beginning of my mental health journey.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Psalms 46:1
It'd be nice to say that overtime anxiety and depression just wilted away like petals on a rose, but that's the furthest thing from the truth. I still had panic attacks, emotional breakdowns, depressive periods of time, irrational thoughts, and everything else BUT I was learning how to cope and how to manage my mental health. And I didn't do it all on my own, I had a strong support system (my parents), I started seeing a therapist (despite the misguided and completely false belief within the black community that "therapy is a white people thing") and the greatest of all...
I had God.
Because even in the midst of my lowest moments He never left. When I questioned Him, got mad at Him, strayed away from Him because I thought I could handle it on my own- He continued to pour out His grace on me.
Today, I know what my triggers are. I had to remove myself from certain situations, people, and things because I knew they would come at the cost of my mental health. I know when I'm putting too much on myself & when to simply say "No." I know how to manage (and still learning, honestly) my mental health. I ask for help when I need it and recognize when I'm not okay because it's okay to not be okay.
Neglecting my mental health is not an option. Not taking care of myself is not an option.
It took me quite some time (years) to get where I'm at now. I still get knocked down, but I continue to get back up each time. I have my moments, days, weeks, or even months but I try to keep my head up more than I keep it down.
If you're reading this in you're in a dark place right now, I pray the light shows back up in your life soon. Take care of yourself and don't give up!
Thanks for reading, and don't forget... Be great! xoxo.