Read This If You're Struggling With Your Mental Health
I found a quote on instagram a couple days ago that said “you are a match for your mountain” and it really resonated with me.
Lately I have been feeling trapped in a whirlwind of anxiety that just won’t seem to dwindle very much, and has been very hard to manage.
Believe me I have been trying every single coping skill in the tool book, journaling, talking to a friend, going outside, distracting myself, watching a tv show, cleaning, meditating, yoga-ing, therapy. These things help, but I liken it to building a house, where coping skills are my tool set. It’s certainly easier to build a house with tools than with bare hands, but I still have to swing a hammer, and carry wood, and do a lot of hard work.
Managing a mental health condition can feel like a full time job. Unfortunately, I don’t get to turn my thoughts off and take vacation days. I fight every day. Some days are way worse than others. Some days are way better than others.
I think that this experience has come up for a reason. I am a very ~connected~ person, and I feel as though the universe gives me opportunities to learn and grow, even when those times feel painful and confusing.
Living on my own for the first time has been its own beast to tackle. I went from feeling overwhelmed by having so many people everywhere all the time to having just me, myself, and I. And if you experience anxiety or panic attacks, you might agree that dealing with panic is hard and dealing with it all alone is even harder, because there is no one there to help snap you out of it. One of the biggest challenges of panic is feeling like you might die, or have a heart attack, or something bad might happen, and with no one there to ‘save’ you, the fear emanates.
I have also noticed that alone time gives more space for my negative thoughts. My fears of failing, my self-loathing, and my body image struggles have been louder.
Mental illness LOVES isolation. As one of my therapists told me a while ago, “You are only as sick as your secrets”. The more we internalize what we are feeling, the more those feelings seem to grow, and manifest, like an infection spreading to every cell in the body. But speaking up, connecting to others, and speaking our truth is how we let the light in, and how we heal.
I’ll give you a really good example. I am a worrier. I worry about what might happen, what already happened, and what will never happen. Sometimes I get so caught up in a worry that I find myself with a whole story about that potential issue.
I was worried that I might get a stomach ache at work, so I thought up a whole plan of what door I would escape through, and if I got sick what bathroom I would run to, and what I would tell my boss, and what if it happens again, and I keep leaving work, and then I get fired and then I can never have a job again… do you see how fast thoughts can get out of hand? I probably had a stomach ache from all that worry!!!
Now, if I find myself in a worry trap like that one, I try my best to tell someone about it. Because as soon as I start saying all that stuff out loud, it puts it into perspective. And suddenly I can see how ridiculous my fear of (whatever the heck my brain decided that day) is pretty silly. Sometimes I can even laugh about it and move the heck on.
I don’t want to come across as ‘woe is me, everything sucks’ because it certainly doesn’t. I am blessed and grateful to have an amazing support system, and quite frankly, an amazing life.
But I want to speak my truth, because I know that others struggle with the exact same thoughts and emotions as I do, and I know that speaking up is the fastest way to make someone feel less alone.
The last few months have felt like the steep uphill part of a run or hike where you’re going up and you can see the top but its SO FAR AWAY so you just keep trudging along and it seems like the hill goes on forever and ever.
I have made progress with my anxiety, panic, and other mental stuff, but the top of the hill is still in the distance, so I keep plodding along, knowing I have to get there eventually.
All of this has taught me to explore my compassion and empathy more. It’s so easy for me to write off someone else’s struggles because I have never had to deal with them. Especially when a close friend or loved one is having trouble getting out of bed or doing daily activities, it can be really hard to understand because nothing seems or looks wrong. But the mind body connection is real, and even if a person may look totally fine, the storm inside them might just be a full on hurricane. Experiencing my own hurt has made room for understanding and patience with others.
I want to leave you with this.
It’s okay if you don’t know what you are doing.
It’s okay if you don’t like being alone.
It’s okay if all you did today was desperately try to keep yourself together.
Know that every period of pain leads to a period of strength and growth.
Every stumble leads to more knowledge, experience, and balance.
You are a match for your mountain.