Before we begin, I know, I know. I missed Wednesday’s posting. Life things, specifically mental health things, were making it difficult to even go to class, much less dedicate an hour to writing a blog post. The last thing I wanted to do was post something that lacked energy, especially considering the state my mind was in. Now it’s nearly a week later, as well as mental health awareness week, and I decided that I wanted to write about something that actively impacts my life as well as the lives of millions of people. So, without anymore introduction, here is something that hopefully can contribute to the conversation.
Mental illness has impacted my life since I can remember. Growing up, I was always told by my family and friends that I was “too sensitive.” It wasn’t until I was fourteen that I was diagnosed with anxiety, and all my years of crying at the drop of a hat and spending my nights curled up in bed struggling to breathe suddenly made a ridiculous amount of sense.
I thought that knowing why I acted the way I did would magically make things better. But life just doesn’t work that way, and dealing with my anxiety over the course of the past four years has truly been a struggle. Between making the transition to a completely new state to making the transition from high school to college, my limits had been tested in every sense of the word. They still are being tested every single day, whether it’s dealing with the memories of past relationships or struggling through the most stressful of days.
I thought that I could handle all of this on my own. I was forced to, really. Only very recently did I go on medication and it made an enormous difference, but then it was yanked from me without so much as a warning and again, I had to learn to handle things on my own. But it wasn’t working. I was plagued with panic attacks and days where I felt completely disassociated from the rest of the world. It took an actual breakdown for me to realize that handling my anxiety on my own was not the answer.
So I reached out. I got help. I turned not only to my friends but to a professional who could help me get the resources that I need. No longer did I feel alone or like I had the weight of my illness resting entirely on my shoulders. That feeling being gone, knowing that there were people there helping me to shoulder that weight, has to be the best feeling in the entire world.
So why tell you this? Why tell you about my journey from coping with anxiety all on my own to seeking out help for it?
There are too many people that view getting help as a sign of weakness. I was one of those people. When I went to my first counseling session, I remember tearfully telling her that I was upset because this was something I should have been able to handle. I had dealt with it on my own for so long, why was I only now just losing control? But the truth is, mental illness is rarely ever something you can just handle on your own. Whether it’s anxiety or depression or even something like bipolar disorder, it’s something that will eventually drag you down with it.
So don’t view getting help as a weakness. View it as bravery, as courage, as strength. View it as you taking your life into your own hands and saying you will not allow this illness to get the better of you, that you will conquer it.
As Ben Platt says:
“Let that lonely feeling wash away. Because maybe there’s a reason to believe you’ll be okay. ‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand, you can reach…reach out your hand. And oh, someone will come running and I know they’ll take you home. Even when the dark comes crashing through, when you need a friend to carry you, and when you’re broken on the ground, you will be found. So let the sun come streaming in, ’cause you’ll reach up and you’ll rise again. Lift your head and look around. You will be found.”
You may be wondering how this quote fits into this message I’m trying to share, but really look at those words. “‘Cause when you don’t feel strong enough to stand, you can reach…reach out your hand. And oh, someone will come running and I know they’ll take you home.” When you’re struggling, when things are getting hard, just find the courage to reach out. The reward, the support that you’ll get, will completely outweigh the shame you might feel about getting help. Let that propel you forward. Let the idea of a reward and support and joy propel you towards getting help. Because when you can experience those things without the weight of your struggles sitting on your shoulders…it’s a truly beautiful thing.