Let's Talk About It
This is not an easy post to write. I want to be vulnerable and courageous and tell my stories in hopes of inspiring you. To let you know you are not alone in struggle and suffering, and there is hope for things to be different...to be better. But when I am faced with the deep, dark, and ugly I hesitate to write about it in fear of offending or driving people away by talking about uncomfortable things. This is part of the problem with mental illness. Nobody wants to hear about it, so nobody talks about it, which leads to isolation, loneliness, denial, and judgement. I'll warn you now that I talk about uncomfortable things in this post. They were not easy to write and it was not easy to post, but it is important to talk about mental health so we can work through it and reduce the judgement that surrounds it. These issues are real and there is nothing wrong with talking about them. In fact, talking about them usually can reduce the power of the shame and guilt that come along with depression and anxiety.
I had a rough week. I have not been practicing very good mental health habits lately. It started with a few simple thoughts as I was working through some self-discovery, and I ended up deep in some old and unresolved wounds. These are some very tender wounds that led me back to the depths of that deep, dark hole very quickly before I could even realize it. My demons came back in full force and those nasty thoughts and the negative self-talk overwhelmed me like a raging river that I was drowning in. At one point, I found myself saying, "Wow, you are so MEAN!" to these many thoughts. I can't believe I used to live with these thoughts circling in my head constantly. It is easy to forget how it feels when we are not in the depths of it everyday. I also experienced some new and unwelcome thoughts that were telling me that I didn't deserve to be here and that everyone around me would be better off without me. Apparently when I am in the depths of my darkness now, I have some suicidal thoughts. I don't believe these thoughts, but their existence scared and startled me and made me wonder if there is a chance I will ever believe them. This is something I have to look into and understand how to manage even more diligently and carefully.
I am an active, healthy, successful, and even happy individual most of the time, but I have my demons that still visit me. It took a long time for me to realize that I am not my thoughts, and the demons lie but I do not have to listen to them, try to shut them up, or give them any power. I have been doing really well lately managing my mental wellness, but sometimes, especially when exploring old wounds, they come back. I still have some unresolved trauma that I need to deal with. Much of mental illness is silent and the shame and guilt associated with them cause us to hide, providing no clues to the outside world that we are suffering. This causes isolation and loneliness, which only gives them more power.
Luckily, the work I have done to improve my mental wellness allowed me to know that I couldn't stay in the depths of this darkness and I needed to do things to recover. I let myself cry. I let myself feel and embrace the sadness instead of pushing it away. I journaled and then I journaled some more. Writing is my strongest tool; it always has been. When the opportunity arose and I was ready, I talked about it with people I trust. I tried to meditate but didn't make it very far, but I continued to do the things that I know help me manage my mental wellness daily. I used the tools I have learned to climb out of the hole.
I know how hard it is to get out of that deep, dark hole and to not listen to those demons that want to keep us there. But it was an unexpected result that building resilience to elevate mental wellness, also builds resilience for recovery when we end up back there. There were no real grand leaps toward recovery for me, but a million tiny steps and practicing healthy, daily habits that made a real difference. If this is an indicator of anything, it is that I must continue to practice those healthy daily habits diligently, because when I don't it is easy to fall back into the depths of the darkness. The habits gain power either way: whatever daily habits I practice whether healthy or not become stronger and I am more willing to practice them everyday, so I must choose the healthy ones because I know the benefits of practicing them.