Mental health is one of the most, if not THE most important parts of your overall health to take care of. If your mental health isn’t in check, nothing else will be.
Ok this is one of the most sensitive subjects to talk about. And for some reason in today’s society, when there is a tough subject to talk about...we avoid it all together. Why??? (Idk great question)
If you know me, you know I am an open book. I will talk about literally almost anything and everything with you if I feel comfortable around you (if is the key word here). However I am completely guilty of avoiding talking about my own personal mental health-for me it’s anxiety and depression that I do not like to talk about. But I feel like this topic is too important to leave out so (deep breath) here we go.
For me my story starts out back in college. For some reason I felt like I could take on the world, as most college kids do: do as much as I possibly could, and handle it with ease. Should be great right? Let’s all laugh together shall we. In college, I took anywhere from 12-18 credit hours per semester, was involved in a sorority and worked three jobs. And still somehow thought I could balance my homework, study time and a social life ON TOP of everything else. Needless to say, I was quite often stressed. I started out being pretty good at managing my stress but as I added onto the pile, the less control I had over my stress level. I got migraines. I had freak outs over the smallest things and cried. I cried A LOT. I called my mom and guess what, cried to her too. I had anxiety attacks. There were times when I felt so overwhelmed I could actually feel my chest tightening and my heart racing. And at that time I thought “oh I don’t have anxiety” and “anxiety is for people for don’t know how balance everything” (cough cough little J-that’s you girl) I was making myself sick. And I just didn’t understand what anxiety was and that it was a real thing.
I felt like no one understood my level of stress and people would just think I was overreacting. So I didn’t do anything about it. I let myself fall apart for just a little while then picked myself up and moved on to the next task for the day. Then did it all over again.
Things only got worse when my grandpa passed away at the beginning of my junior year of college. I can honestly say this was one of the worst years of my life thus far. I had just transferred to a new university and was trying to get used to the new changes and heavy class loads. In the midst of this, my grandpa passes away and I felt my world shatter. I let everything fall by the wayside. School: I didn’t care about it. Work: I didn’t care about it. Even dance, my usual outlet for when I felt overwhelmed: I didn’t care about it. I was at my lowest low. But again, I didn’t talk to anyone. I eventually got back on track with school and work but still had a constant feeling of “unhappiness.”
Life continued and I wanted to make my grandpa proud and so I went on.
I made a lot of mistakes along the way and lost a lot of great people in my life during the process. But I did it. I graduated from Northwest Missouri State University with my Bachelors degree. AND had a big girl job right after graduation. I was beyond proud of myself for the first time in a long time and I knew my grandpa was too. I pushed through some of the hardest times in my life but I did it.
So here’s the thing-even after graduating and making it through some of the hardest of times, the anxiety and constant feeling of...well I’m not sure what to call it, really-it didn’t magically go away. Depression is a weird thing. And the best way I can describe it to someone who has never experienced it is a feeling of no feeling at all. Numbness almost.
I finally decided it was time to get some real help. From an actual doctor. I went to my doctor who I had since I was a kid, it was the most awkward and unsettling experience I’ve ever been through but I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders when it I as all said and done. Even though I felt crazy for sitting there and laying literally everything out on the table, he said something that I’ll never forget. “Jessica it’s okay that you don’t feel okay. It’s okay because there’s stuff out there to help you. And it’s okay because you’re not alone.”
Guys, it’s okay. Seriously. It’s okay to ask for help. Even the most stubborn of people (hi hello, that’d be me) need a little help once and awhile.
If you are struggling with anxiety or depression don’t wait for it to magically get better. Go talk to someone. Whether that is a parent, a friend, pastor, doctor, whoever. Ask for help, I’m so glad I did. Don’t wait and hope it gets better on its own.
We can’t do this thing called life on our own, we just can’t.
We all have our own demons we’re fighting everyday but I promise you, it gets better. And please remember it’s okay to not feel okay sometimes.
I never thought caring for my mental health was important but if I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s something everyone needs to take better care of. So let’s stop avoiding the subject. Let’s start supporting each other and supporting those who are struggling. Because it really is okay.