Before I start saying what I want to say, I want to share the information on this webpage. For most of my life, as long as I can remember really, I have had clinical depression. I also have generalized anxiety disorder. When I was first diagnosed with these things, I was devastated to say the least. My first thoughts were, “How weak do I have to be to not be able to handle my feelings? I must be a total loser to have to take medication to feel better! I must be crazy if I need therapy to deal with these things.” I was not/am not weak. I was not/am not a total loser. I was not/am not crazy, although others will find that humorously debatable.
I had the same stereotypical ideas about mental illness and those who were dealing with it as many people still do these days. Now, I was very young when I didn’t understand why I would cry “just because.” That understanding came much, much later, but it came. Let’s go back, though. Again, I didn’t understand the nonsensical crying and excessive worry. I got made fun of by people because I did cry a lot. For the record, that didn’t, and does not, help with the crying or the excessive worry. It did, however, increase both. “Why can’t I stop crying? Why do I have to worry so much? Why do I have these outbursts of anger at times?” I asked myself multiple times these exact questions. All through school and growing up, I was very emotional. For no rhyme or reason, I would just cry. I would be afraid of doing anything or going anywhere because I just knew something bad would happen. I had horrible mood swings that included depression, anger, and irritability.
I often isolated and began to feel overly needy. Man, I can’t express how unsafe and impractical that overly needy person became. I attached myself to people who were wholly injurious to my entire being. It took me until I was in my late 20s, and even a little longer, to realize that treacherous way of life. Don’t get me wrong, I had a few very good people in my life. But, my depression and anxiety pushed some of them away because I had not started seeking treatment or understanding my mental illnesses. I was about 27 years of age when I first sought treatment. I was placed on an antidepressant that had be bouncing off of the walls. Yeah, that wasn’t helpful. I was on approximately seven different medication combinations until I found the right one for me at the time. When I started taking medications and going to therapy, things started looking different even though things became very heavy, dark, and hard.
See, when I started working on myself in the correct ways, some days were very heavy, dark, and hard. That’s what happens, though. When I started being completely honest with myself about the things I had done to myself, the things that were done to me, and the things I had done to other people, I had to change. I wanted to change. When I knew differently and better, I started doing differently and better. Let me stop right here to say that those choices to do better have not stopped since they began when I was 27 years old. I slipped backward more times than I can even begin to count. I was angry with myself for not being healthy and content. I took stuff out on myself. But, with the combination of the correct medications and therapists, I am a healthier me than I was such a long time ago…and even not such a long time ago. While I do not push medications as a habit, it’s necessary to be emotionally stable to deal with life’s problems whether internal or external. It’s also necessary to acquire the tools needed to improve a state of mental health through therapy. Both medication and therapy will usually bring about the most desired results. One can be emotionally stable on the medications, but if there is no knowledge on how to use the most helpful tools to do better, improvement may not obtainable. Also, if all the psychological tools in the world are given and there is no mental, emotional stability to use them appropriately, difficulties can become more intense and arise more often.
I stated that I had some really very dark and heavy days when I started working on myself. I did, and that is the total truth. I also had some really good days where I was able to look at my stuff and sit with it instead of running away in shame or with guilt weighing me down like an old, wet wool blanket. I have the very darkest of days, and I have had the very brightest of days. I have also had every other kind of days in between. I am no longer ashamed or feel guilty of my depression and anxiety. I deal with them both in the correct ways. I never thought that I would see the light of day when I first began working on them. I found myself during my darkest times expecting things from people that they just could not give me. I wanted them to make me better, and that is comprehensively unfair and impossible. I wanted all of their attention and time. Again, that is so unfair and impossible. I often found myself wondering if these people really liked me or loved me as they had said they did. Because, “If they really loved me, they’d pay attention to me all of the time and give me exactly what I wanted.” Boy, I was in the needy category so deep I needed a flashlight just to see anything. It was not pretty. I did, said, and felt those things because I was so outrageously broken, and I did not know how to be mended. Part of me really never wanted to be mended because if I was going to be all better, who would love me and talk to me? It’s a nasty, vicious side effect for some people with mental illnesses. The older I get, and the more I continue to work on me, I realize that people will like me, love me, want to talk to me because of who I am and nothing else. And, whether they do want to do any of those things is truly up to them. I can just be who I am, and others will want to be a part of that or not. I cannot control who chooses to come in or walk out of my life. I can choose to love them, and me, while they are there, though. I have played the relationship games, and I was never so miserable. Even though I still have depression and generalized anxiety, I now understand that the games are no longer necessary for me to be safe or survive. The fear of people leaving me is lessened every day because I understand I can do nothing about it if they choose this. However, because I have chosen to do whatever needs to be done to take care of my mental health, people are choosing to stay because my focus is not, “Pay attention to me!” It’s on, “I love that you are in my life, and I will honor and take care of our relationship the best way I can.” This all came about because I chose to stop being a victim of mental illness. I chose to stand up for myself and start making better decisions. I work on this every day of my life and will until the day I die. Will I slip up? Yes. Will I get right back up and get to work again? Yes. It’s painful at times, but it is so very worth it.
Please, if you are reading this and have a mental illness that you haven’t started working on yet or admitted to yet, start today. There are people who are willing to help you and do so without judgment. If you are lying to yourself about having a mental illness, you will be stuck right where you are until you choose differently. Choose differently. Choose today. I promise you that it is worth it on so many different levels.
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