I’ve had a few points in my life where I felt that surely the walls around me were going to crumble down. It sounds dramatic but it’s truly how I felt. I’ve had times when I’ve been paralyzed with fears that I knew were irrational but they never the less kept me from moving. And I’ve had days where crawling back into bed was the only escape I knew.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve sat frustrated with the thought of “What’s wrong with me” resounding in my head space.
I think this is a common question but the trouble is there isn’t a common answer. Some shoot back automatically with a “there’s nothing wrong with you” and others reach for an explanation that things are completely “out of your control”. I reach somewhere in the middle because I want an answer for when I feel less than who I know myself to be but I’m not ready to shed myself of the responsibility of control. I now know that, for me, when I can’t get this question out of my head I’m not in a healthy place but I didn’t always know why and I certainly didn’t know how to move out of that space.
Once I recognized that something wasn’t quite right, I began avoiding what I thought were my triggers and I tried to take time to breathe. Breathing, for me, means going out into nature, soaking up the little moments with family and friends, and more recently it means journaling the great moments in life, the mundane times, and the frightening thoughts that enter my head.
These coping mechanisms aren’t a catch-all but they help me. However, they don’t reflect the most important part of me understanding and improving my mental health: being honest with myself and speaking openly with others.
I’m thankful for the programs I have been a part of that helped me explore who I am as an individual. They helped me recognize my tendencies, acknowledge my strengths, and improve on my weaknesses. Understanding myself made it easier to be honest with myself and eventually honest with others.
It wasn’t until I began to take my mental health seriously that I even considered sharing my thoughts with another person but I am so glad that I did. It’s important to discuss how we feel in mind and body–no matter how uncomfortable it may feel at first.
We need open discussions about mental health in our personal lives, in schools, and in general. Open discussions can lead to someone getting support they might not otherwise know existed. They might help someone connect with another person that understands where they’re coming from on a deeper level. It might help someone find that person in their life that asks a deeper than surface “how are you?”
I’m lucky to have found a few of those people in my life and one especially that opened up to me and showed me that I can do the same. Being honest with myself and others helps me understand where I am and how I’m moving forward.
I’m still on the journey to becoming the best version of myself but I know where I stand and for today, that’s enough.
P.s. If you need someone to listen to you talk or someone to talk while you listen or you’re somewhere in the middle, I’m here.