Lets Talk About It
Let me start by saying I have been avoiding my blog, social media, and just this month in general. I had planned to share my struggles with mental health, in this spiel of how I am in a better place, and you can be too. Then reality hit me. This month started with one then another back to back. I had a shift in work, my goals for the store shifted again for the 100th time, I had two panic attacks, one break down and the anxiety about posting my original intended blog post pushed me to not post at all. Ahaha it's funny because I sat myself down for a serious talk, which went somewhat along these lines:
Me: Okay, quit trying to have it all together. You don't, and that's okay.
Also Me: But I had a plan. I had a blog post built out that sounded so encouraging. I was going to inspire someone to keep going. Who wants to hear how endless anxiety feels, or how you might think you're alright and with one shift stability goes out the window?
Reasonable Me: But who wants to get another pat on the back saying it's all okay? Do you like to hear you're okay? Do you like to hear that things are going to be okay when your world is on fire? Honesty is what makes people relate, not the version of you that looks like you got it all together.
Me: Spirals, procrastinate, avoids blog for almost a month... And five days before Mental Health Awareness month ends writes a more honest blog post.
Reasonable Me: SMH...
On this more real version of my blog post, I want to go over three main things I have learned from my issues with mental health (anxiety and depression). I am not a doctor nor am I trying to diagnose anyone I am talking solely from experience with my issues, and I hope this helps someone who reads feel that they aren't alone in all this.
I struggle with myself so bad. I am the older child that is always haunted with the thought that my siblings are looking up at me because I want to make them all proud. I hate that I can take a small comment someone makes and dissect it a million ways to where I find a way that what they said was caused by me. I lay awake in the terror of failing. I struggle to find priority in self-care. My business is my baby and the monster that some days makes me dread getting out of bed. Checking my bank account makes me ball up and cry sometimes. I am nowhere near having it all together. In fact, when I get a compliment about how fantastic, I am doing, and what a great thing I am doing, I go into my car and ask God why? I am not doing anything. I am trying, yes, but doing? No. God has laid so many things in my hands, and I feel so undeserving and yes I have put sweat and tears into everything but God has opened every door that my sweat and tears hasn’t been able to. I feel like a fraud, and it triggers me.
Three Things I Have Learned About My Mental Health.
1. I Have Triggers:
Triggers come in all shapes and sizes, but some main ones are for sure going to get a reaction out of me. Family, Money, Work, Failures, and Social events.
My family has a perfect combination of issues that it has branded me. At the first sign of resemblance of the pains or problems I dealt with at home, I am triggered. I feel so strongly for children in a home with infidelity and anyone feeling alone in their own family.
Money is a big one for me. Money has always equalled security, success, and power to my brain. The lack of money makes me feel out of control, and like I am failing.
Work. If I am doing good, if I am doing wrong, if I did enough, if I didn't do enough, if others are doing better at it... its an endless list in my mind. It's like my brain finds anything to worry about.
Failure has been a new trigger. Two years ago, when the business didn't turn out to become what I expected, and I had to put the store on pause, failure became a trigger. The fear of failing and never getting back up has started to trigger my anxiety. Depending on how bad I mess up, I can also struggle with pushing past those negative thoughts that scream "you're not good for anything, just quit already."
Social Events can leave me feeling so drained... Starting with what to wear. As a child, I was always told that I dress like a tomboy and that all still replays in my head when its time to dress up. Feeling less than a woman is an issue that most people don't know triggers me. Then the fakeness gets me in a social situations. People can be so fake, and it has become such a norm that sometimes we don't even catch it anymore, it's sad. When I catch the fake smiles and pointless conversations, I find myself wanting to stay home and not see anyone. My mind screams, "It is all you, who would want to be your friend, look at how you dress. See how much fun everyone else is having here; you don't belong." The spiraling begins.
2.I Have Bumps In The Road:
Getting to the right place mentally has its obsticles, and they may vary between people, but mine have to do with culture and the general stigma of it.
Culturally the Hispanic community doesn't acknowledge mental health issues as actual medical problems. It has been hard to rewire my brain to speak about these things because they are seen as excuses more than a health challenge. It is sad to see how many people have to struggle with issues only because culturally, it isn't acceptable to seek help for something that "IT is all in your mind."
I have always had a hard time with self-care, and the few times I carve out time for self-care, mental health falls to the bottom of the list.
Having a hard time with mental health is sometimes viewed as a weakness, and no one wants to be the weak link. So the people already weighed down by these issues keep quiet and carry this load alone as it keeps piling on more and more the weight is so heavy that it is crippling. I had to tell myself that for my own good I had to stop carrying the weight alone. I don’t ever want to go back to where getting out of bed was miserable for me.. so I have found
3.My Personal Ways To Stay Above Waters
• Let's talk about it! I talk about, write about it, let it all out, talk to friends, find a group. It has been so relieving to share things not only because it is nice to feel like you're not alone but looking back and reading through some of the things that I have shared helps me see my issues from the outside looking in, and they look smaller than they feel inside. You might not want to share things so publicly, and friends or journaling can be a great alternative.
Find a friend who can relate on multiple levels. You’ll find that you're able to share without having to explain where you are accurately or any of the back end stuff with someone who is there with you or has been there long enough. My most recent addition to my support system is Rachel Laymoun from Simply So Yaya: business owner, in a mixed marraige, has dealt with her share of mental issues. She gets me in so many levels, and she won't need much to understand where I am.
The more we let it out, the lighter the weight will get.
• Mental Health is part of overall health, so we need to treat it as such. Prioritize it as such. *I am personally still working on this one*
• Seeking Professional Help. Talking to someone and working through those issues helps me get to know myself better to where I get to the root of my problems. I don’t regret getting to know myself better.
Religiously speaking, I know first hand this can be hard. I am, a Christian, and I did years of therapy, and I felt ashamed. Why? Because I got the question, "why don't you just pray about it?" Well, I didn't know what was wrong with me. I didn't understand why I couldn't get out of bed somedays or why I felt such a roller coaster of emotions other days. I didn't recognize myself, so what was I going to pray about? Therapy helped me see areas of unforgiveness that cause so much anger in me. I got to understand why I had specific triggers, and I then Finally, I could come to God knowing I needed help to forgive, help to give myself grace and a million other things, that, yes only God can help me with. But as a logical thinker I needed someone to help me untangle the mess so that I can then come to God with my mess.
This might not apply to everyone, you might not pray, or maybe you find it easier to go to God with your request even when you don't know what wrong, but understanding myself helped me so much and I got a chance to look back a see the magnitude of what God had changed in my life.
I no longer go to therapy, but I have to say I have to take my advice and revisit the idea because as life has evolved, so have my issues.
*Bonus: Puppy Breaks can be a life saver. Cayman has become part of dealing with my anxiety. There is just something about taking a break and laying with Cayman that makes me feel like things are going to be okay. Anxiety getting the best of you? Go adopt a pup. Jk. Or am I?
Look, I get it. Loving ourselves can be hard when society keeps showing us higher standards of perfection that aren't even realistic. Remember that we are only responsible for being the best version of ourselves, not anybody else. You are unique and perfectly made. Part of loving yourself is your overall health and mental health is an essential part of this. So love yourself.
With Hope + Gratitude,