Most of my life, I’ve struggled with my mental illness. So much, in fact, that I’ve become really good at putting on an “I’m okay” face. However, when I’m at home, the emptiness settles in, and all I can do is hold on until the waves subside.
Who I am.
Very rarely do I talk about my personal struggles online. I’ve always been a private person; my personal Facebook doesn’t contain anything personal and only has a few pictures to appease the nosy masses (family and FB friends who only talk to you on FB). Other than that, I have enough close friends that I can count on half a hand, because it’s overwhelming to have too many people knowing my business. Too often I’ve learned that people think they are open-minded and understanding, but when it comes to mental illness, to them, you’re overdramatic and lack coping skills.
When I was 12 years old, I began my battle with depression, PTSD, social anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. My self-esteem is non-existent, I fall into deep depression when I’m overwhelmed or hurting, I can’t stand to be around people for too long, and my mind is restless, even while I sleep. After many years of reaching out non-verbally, I’ve come to realize that this battle is my own, with my own mind.
Why I am me.
Our circumstances help shape us into the people we become, but it is our reactions to those circumstances that determine what kind of people we are. When I was younger, I was full of raging hormones and emotions that I didn’t know what to do with. I needed an outlet, and I needed help. I never got it, because I didn’t know. My parents are traditional Filipino Chinese adults with no knowledge or understanding that mental illness is a thing. Back in those days, it wasn’t a common thing, and no one really talked about it. Today, we are so very lucky to be able to express ourselves openly and freely. We are able to connect with those who have similar experiences, creating a network of people who understand each other, even if our struggles are different.
As the years passed, I fell into terrible relationships with people who didn’t value the same things I did. Year after year, I ran with people who I thought were my friends, but when it came down to it, I wasn’t really that important to them. After a while, I found a nice group of people who were genuinely nice, and from them I learned to change – to care about other people. Today, I’m proud to still call them my friends, even though they’re over 7,000 miles across the Pacific Ocean.
Dealing with change.
In the past 3 years, I have moved from Guam to Orange County and from Orange County to Texas. Every time I move, I have to meet new people and make new friends. For someone like me, that isn’t always so easy. However, in the two years I spent in OC, I was able to make several new friends, and the impact they made during the hardest 2 years of my adult life, they’ll never know. I am very grateful for them, and I wish I could tell them how many times they’ve kept me from falling deep into the depressive abyss that I thought I’d left behind.
You see, these past three years, I actually felt free from my mental illness. I know that it still lurks in my mind, but I’ve been able to fight back more strongly than ever before. There was a time a little over a year ago when I became close to someone who almost made me forget that I was worth anything at all. After many traumatic lessons learned, this broke me, but I was able to walk away from that before it destroyed me. Walking away was one of the strongest things I’ve done for myself. Not long after that, without even looking, I was met with a blessing – one with an open mind and an all encompassing love, one I’ve never known to exist.
Coping with myself.
I have a destructive nature, because I grew up believing that I’m not good enough for anyone or anything. Even today, people still make me feel that way. You see, I’m recently divorced, and I have two children. Dating as a single mother is difficult enough without people implying that you’re damaged goods and your children are baggage. Every day, I fight the thoughts that maybe they’re right, because I know they’re not. My children are the best accomplishments of my entire life, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.
My coping style is simple. When I feel like I’m falling, I recite a series of affirmations that I’ve written down in my journal and on my phone. Usually, I repeat them over and over, like a mantra. “I am worth it, I am enough, and I am beautiful”. Any negative thoughts, I turn into positives, and any challenges, I face head on. I’ve become quite a different person in these few years. Maybe it has something to do with working in an emergency room where I’ve seen true despair and loss.
In any case, I’ve built up a strong skin, and my mind has almost figured out that I’m in charge. I still have my dark days. During those days, I try to stay away from people. I can almost guarantee I’m a terrible human at those times. I’ve surrounded myself with people who actually love and care about who I really am. They love more than just the good parts of me.
You are more than enough.
We all have our struggles, and mental illness is common among bloggers. It’s part of the reason some of us turn to blogging. We feel more connected to people without having to actually interact with them in person. Social media engagements allow us that delay in responding. Also, writing down our thoughts is a sort of therapy, at least it is for me. I never feel alone, because I know there are others out there who understand what I’m going through.
This week is mental health week, and I wanted to share a little more of myself with you. Hopefully you found this post helpful. I would love it if you could create a little dialogue in the comments and share your thoughts.
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