Hey guys! Hope you’re all doing really well! Over the past two years of having this blog and suffering from mental health, I’ve written a lot of posts where I mention it. Also through out the past two years I’ve spent a lot of time coming to terms with my journey and where I fall on the mental health spectrum.
One of the biggest hurdles when you are dealing with a mental illness is the guilt you feel for having it. Personally, I would get over that guilt…tackle an obstacle but that guilt would slowly come back until I tackled my next obstacle. When this guilt keeps trickling back into your thoughts it’s easy to believe you haven’t made any progress. Today I want to talk about my journey & how going at my own pace has affected me. I also want to point out some things that helped me recognize when I was ready for the next step.
Step 1: Understanding How I was Feeling
My journey with mental health is something that has happened in steps. If you’ve been with me for a little while, you’ll know that my depression started after I graduated college. I had so many different thoughts flowing through out my head, everything I knew was different. My friends were now hours away, I wasn’t a student anymore and I didn’t know how to be anything else. I felt like everything was falling apart and I was losing myself. I didn’t know how to explain it to anyone, because I didn’t understand what I was feeling. When I think back to how I was feeling two and a half years ago, that feeling still seem foreign because it was so new and out of character.
Out of character, that’s one of the hurdles I had to get over in understanding how I was feeling. I didn’t recognize this person that was looking back at me. I have always enjoyed my own company, and I’m proud of that self-sufficiency. However, I became someone who was anxious to go to my best friends house. I had one big out of character moment that showed me I wasn’t myself and it was time to lean on someone I trusted.
In Fall/Winter 2016 I was so numb and couldn’t bare the though of losing anyone or anything else in my life. So, I tried to end my friendship with my best friend so she wouldn’t have to see what an empty shell (pun intended, her nickname for me is shell) I had become. I thought if she didn’t see what I’d become, she couldn’t be ashamed of me like I was ashamed of me. Thankfully she told me to shut up, that I was being stupid and in my daze of depression that’s all I needed to know I could tell her what I’d been feeling.
Step 2: Telling my Friends
So here we are, about 6 months into my journey with mental illness and I’m ready to tell my friends. Not all my friends because this isn’t everyone business but my three best friends, Keira, Lindsay and Megan. I was feeling great that I had people who I could now talk to about how I was feeling. I always knew I had these outlets, but I had to get to a place where I was comfortable with it. (aka be able to talk about my problems without sobbing the whole time)
Telling my friends, gave them the ability to help me and make me feel validated. One of the biggest struggles with mental health is how your mind makes you believe your feelings are invalid. Having these people who could verbally combat the lies my mind was making up helped me realize that they were lies in the first place. However, that guilt slipped back into my mind and this good feeling my friends were providing was fading. The depression was getting louder and I was slipping fast.
It makes me sad to think and/or talk about the moments where I was suicidal so I’m gonna brush over that area for now. However, in January 2018 I had another moment that scared Lindsay. This was the second time in 6 months, where something I said to her worried her. She insisted I go to the doctor, she “would do anything for me but she couldn’t watch me like this anymore.” I knew she was right, but I was petrified so I told her I couldn’t. To this day, I don’t know what came over me but as soon as I finished that conversation with Lindsay, I called the doctor and made an appointment.
Step 3: Going on Medication
We are now at Feb 2018, nearly two years since my mental health journey started and I’m finally going to the doctors. I remember the day of my appointment I called Megan and talked to her until I got there. She talked me through my fears, reminded me how big of a step this was and that whatever I tell my doctor is safe.
When I got in and started to speak with my doctor she recommended that I go to cognitive therapy. Which essentially would help teach me new thought patterns. The fact that I was speaking to my doctor about this was nerve racking enough, so I told her I wasn’t ready for that just yet. Having the skillful bedside manner that she does, my doctor understood completely. She didn’t push it on me but instead prescribed me the medication that I’m on still to this day.
Once the medication started to kick in, I felt like a different person. I started to figure out what direction I wanted my life to go, and I took steps to make that happen. I created the blog that you are all reading now, Simply Michelle. To a certain extent that I felt comfortable with, I became an open book sharing my story. Things were aligning in my life, I had friends that would listen and encourage me, I was finally having my hormones level out and I was happy. However, like with each previous step another hurdle arose a few weeks ago. It was time to tackle it.
Step 4: Telling my parents about my medication
The month of March has been one of me constantly stepping out of my bubble. I have started to go to church again, I’ve developed a solid workout plan, and I told my parents I’m on medication. This is what I mean by, going at your own pace on this journey. I’ve been on my medication for a year now, and I’m just now comfortable enough to tell my parents.
Getting there wasn’t easy though, I hit a low that I hadn’t hit in a while. During a conversation with my brother he insisted I talk to my dad. Just like what happened with Lindsay, I was petrified and told him I couldn’t. Then something in my gut changed, and knew it was time. I’m not ashamed of being on medication but I was living like I was.
It was time I honored what this decision had allowed me to do. I’m glad I told them, and that I can proudly stand by the decision’s I’ve made by myself for myself. It sure doesn’t hurt that nearly every day since then my friends remind me of how proud they are. Step 5 will be going to therapy, but we’re not there yet and i’m okay with that.
How To Tell You’re Ready For the Next Step
The saying Trust Your Gut is a big factor when facing your mental health. Each time I made what felt like a huge leap I had the same feeling in my gut. Typically I found that once you feel uneasy about something, that’s when you need to do. It’s like you’re at the edge of a cliff overlooking a beautiful body of water. You can either stay where you are and keep sweating under the hot sun by yourself or you trust those around you and jump, allowing yourself to be free.
People are going to try to push you towards change but there is no shame in taking your time. This is YOUR LIFE and YOUR JOURNEY, no one really knows what’s best for you besides you. The right people will respect that. Needing time in between each step does not diminish the progress you’ve made. The biggest lesson I’ve learned in dealing with mental health is that, progress isn’t linear. There are going to be up’s and down’s and setbacks in your progress. However, that doesn’t take away from your victories.
What’s your journey with mental health like? Where are you at in it? Are you ready for the next step? If not, what’s holding you back? Let me know down in the comments. Thanks for stopping by, until next time…
Be Nice. Be Good.