As May draws to a close, so does mental health awareness month. Mental health has always been an important issue to me, as I have always had friends and family that struggled with mental illnesses and addictions. This year, it became much more personal, as I finally admitted to myself and my doctor that I needed help with my own depression and anxiety. A new day has dawned in my life and I am feeling more like ‘myself’ than I have in, what? Years? Decades? It’s hard to say, really, but I feel good enough to share more of my own story regarding mental health.
I know people that would find this next bit hard to believe: For most of my life, I’ve felt like I didn’t BELONG anywhere. Life felt really HARD all of the time. I was frequently angry without being able to explain why. Anger would quickly turn to tears, as I felt shame and embarrassment for not understanding myself. I regularly wondered how I could expect others to understand me, when I couldn’t even understand myself? To defend this vulnerable place in myself, I pretended I didn’t give a damn about people, save a few close friends. I felt like I was broken and thought there was most definitely something “wrong” with me.
I thought the way I felt was just the way I was. I accepted my suffering as a state of being that I only escaped in fleeting moments of joy and happiness or through altered states, the latter of which I pursued with zeal for the better part of 15 years.
Having spent most of my life without access to medical or mental health care, I didn’t have a lot of options. I wrote a lot. I talked to friends on the phone a lot, usually unproductive lamenting. Mostly, I pursued those altered states. This was a coping strategy that I understood. Continue Reading →