For those who were not aware, yesterday was World Mental Health Day. All throughout yesterday, I had been going back and forth with myself about whether to share my thoughts on the matter on social media. Ultimately, given the stigma surrounding mental health at large, I felt it was only necessary for me to express my sentiments as someone whom this topic affects tremendously on a daily basis. I decided on posting my thoughts today—as opposed to yesterday—to demonstrate that it does not need to be World Mental Health Day for people to openly discuss the topic of mental health.
In a nutshell, living with anxiety and depression is like living in an ongoing nightmare that you can never breathe that sigh of relief for when you wake up the following morning.
It’s not being in control of your own thoughts and actions at times.
It’s not finding any enjoyment, interest, or meaning in things—even the things you once cherished and found to be the most pleasurable.
It’s no longer being able to find pride in yourself or to love yourself—and no longer caring about your physical and emotional appearance or wellbeing.
It’s not being able to clean up the sea of clothes on your bedroom floor no matter how many times you tell yourself to get off your lazy ass. You’re ultimately unable to because you’re so physically exhausted by your own nagging thoughts. And then your messy room creates even more anxiety because it serves as a reminder of your messy mind. And the cycle continues.
It’s getting riled up by the smallest, most insignificant issues and dwelling on them for hours at a time—not being able to stop no matter how hard you try to.
It’s not being able to play a game or sport at your fullest capacity because you’re too nervous you’re going to suck and embarrass yourself in front of everyone—and then ultimately sucking and embarrassing yourself in front of everyone because you were so nervous.
It’s meticulously checking and rechecking the photo you put up on Instagram to make sure that you look up-to-par and are getting enough likes—and then doubting yourself when you feel you aren’t.
It’s not having enough time in the day to accomplish the things you told yourself yesterday that you’d accomplish today, despite the fact that you didn’t do anything the entire day and had all the free-time in the world. But you just can’t. Because anxiety. And then you beat your lazy-ass up about it. And the cycle continues.
It’s yelling at yourself during car rides alone because it’s the only alone-time you have to beat yourself up for all the self-sabotaging you did and not have anyone look at you like you’re crazy.
It’s having your own signature nervous tick; I’m talking muscle spasms, knee-jerks, body hair-plucking, and even jumping around erratically when no one’s watching—the works.
It’s having a piercing pain on your chest that’s so intense it causes breathing to require effort.
It’s feeling tired all the time. Did I mention that one already? I forgot.
It’s being “in your own world” (as my friends put it) all the time because your racing thoughts quite literally have fogged up your vision and consumed your physical surroundings. “Sorry, what did you just say?”
It’s not being able to be productive at all with your day because your anxiety has immobilized you. I think I mentioned that one too. I meant it.
It’s being uneasy, awkward, or practically silent in a social setting depending on your mood—that is, if you even have it in you to show up at all.
It’s being so incredibly tired throughout the entire day (like I said before), but not being able to fall asleep at night because of your incessant self-destructive thoughts, which keep you up till the early hours. Lit.
It’s being unable to complete the most simple, effortless tasks because they’ve become too grueling to accomplish.
It’s having consistent headaches over and over every day—and I’m not talking about ones that Advil can resolve.
It’s living in recurring flashbacks again and again and again. And again.
It’s immeasurable discomfort at all times. Except during those three hours you manage to actually hit REM sleep. Ah how I love those moments.
It’s forcing yourself to exercise even though your work out is already just about a thousand times as challenging by default. Or not going and then kicking yourself about it the entire day.
It’s analyzing and reanalyzing your thoughts and decisions and wondering if you’re being rational or if your brain is playing tricks on you.
It’s losing all sense of time.
It’s feeling scared of virtually everything.
It’s sweating profusely and your heart pounding incessantly before stepping out of the house for reasons you aren’t even certain of.
It’s feeling uncomfortable and out of place with the people who are closest to you and who have always made you feel safe growing up.
It’s putting on a poker-face around everyone and pretending that everything is alright, despite the fact that you are actually choking inside and no one can tell.
It’s alienating yourself from those who care the most about you and putting a stain on your most important relationships.
It’s going from being the overachiever to the underachiever who finds no purpose in doing anything constructive.
It’s deliberately not waking up for class over and over—or better yet, waking up and consciously deciding to not go to class because you just can’t get out of bed. Then suddenly realizing you missed an exam worth 20% of your grade two weeks earlier. Oh well.
It’s making unwise, life-altering choice after unwise, life-altering choice—like leaving the university you worked so hard to get into because you just couldn’t handle it anymore or (not) joining the army because you’re looking for an escape. If you know, you know.
It’s not having the will-power to go back to school almost three years after leaving.
It’s torturing yourself on social media as you watch all of your friends enjoy their prime years in college, while you sit in your own self-inflicted numbness and misery. *Scrolls down*
It’s everyone you’ve ever known asking what you’re doing with your life now—over and over again—and you not having a proper response to give and feeling lousier every time you muster up some bullshit reply.
It’s feeling lost in the world without any viable direction available to you.
It’s actively ignoring texts and phone calls from your loved-ones because you temporarily can’t move or speak anymore during one of your routine panic-attacks.
It’s feeling like shit all the time and then feeling even shittier about it because you know there are people out there who have it way worse than you who don’t complain about their lives.
It’s being at the intersection of overly emotional and not being able to feel any emotion at all.
It’s music not tasting and food not sounding the same as it once did to you—yeah, it’ll also make you delirious at times so that made sense to me.
It’s getting sick every other day because your immune system is always down.
It’s trial and error of medication after medication that doesn’t work, but that you need.
It’s no longer being able to make your family—particularly your parents—proud of you anymore, despite them insisting that isn’t the case. But you know—because you’re no longer proud of yourself either.
It’s not being able to forgive yourself for your past mistakes.
It’s feeling utterly debilitated and defeated most of the time.
It’s not being able to function like a normal human-being should.
It’s not being able to remember the last time you had a good day.
It’s losing yourself and constantly reminiscing about the most mundane moments where you still felt like you.
It’s feeling that the world is bleak and meaningless—even when you know it’s not.
For those struggling with depression and anxiety, along with other forms of mental health issues, even the occasional positive thought is coupled with a negative one and is outweighed by an overwhelming sense of heaviness. This past summer, several pop culture icons who can attest to this sadly succumbed to their own demons. As soon as news broke out regarding the deaths of these particular artists, a widespread discussion about mental illness ubiquitously ensued throughout social media. I watched at the time as the long, heartfelt posts—with expressions of helping hands and shares of a hotline number meant for people to just suddenly pour their hearts out to strangers on the phone—came in flooding and then vanished just as quickly (as is the case with every trending topic on social media). It is precisely for this reason that I stayed quiet and did not share my sentiments during the time and why I did not want to post all of this yesterday either. We should not wait for celebrities to die or for it to be World Mental Health Day—or the day after for that matter—for us to discuss mental health. For if we start to discuss it more openly all the time, we could potentially help so many more people who are suffering in silence every day. It’s an uncomfortable conversation, but it’s an important one.
I’ll finish this incredibly long rant by simply stating the obvious (but the unpracticed): we should all be kind to one another. You truly cannot tell what a person has experienced until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes.
If anyone—ANYONE—that I know or don’t know needs someone to just talk to about anything, I am always available to lend an ear. PLEASE do not hesitate.