I’ve had depression and anxiety for years
I’m delighted to have this Guest Post written by Charli from Life with Charli: Depression and Anxiety: The Start of a Recovery Journey. I’ve just recently come across her blog which she started to help inspire and motivate others! She certainly inspires me and I think you might appreciate what she has to say.
I made my first visit to a mental health clinic this year. I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety since I was a child, but am only now getting help as an adult. I often had suicidal thoughts. Also, whenever my anxiety stated flaring up, I would start shaking uncontrollably and feeling nauseous. I’ve actually seriously considered seeing a therapist twice before finally seeking help, but eventually decided against that decision. It’s definitely been a long road to get to where I am today.
It started as a small child
For starters, I didn’t realize that I needed help in the first place. When I was a small child, I didn’t fully realize that the thoughts I was having were a problem. I didn’t understand what I was experiencing. During my teen years, however, a part of me started to feel that something with my mental health was off. I never really opened up about my thoughts to anyone, not even my family members. I was too scared to share those feelings, too ashamed.
When I was a child, my parents and everyone who met me described me as “happy”. I was always smiling, and as I grew older, I learned to smile even when I wasn’t happy. Pretending that I’m always ok started to become harder once I reached adulthood. I could no longer hide how I was truly feeling. However, I still didn’t want to open up to anyone. I was still trying to keep my struggles bottled up inside. I wasn’t truly hiding though. Others were able to see something was wrong.
It dragged on thro’ college years
My depression and anxiety started to become more of a serious problem during my college years, and this was not very easy to hide. I started becoming very irritable and easily offended. This started affecting my relationship with my family. Moreover, I had a small panic attack in front of a professor twice. Both professors noticed and tried to make sure I was ok. I also broke down in the disability office of my college, and one of the concerned workers in the office told me she is a licensed counsellor if I needed to talk to someone.
Others noticing my struggles was not the only sign that I needed help. I started seeing a new doctor late in my college years, and her office gives patients a mental health questionnaire at the beginning of every visit. I’d mostly lie on them as I wasn’t ready to open up, to talk about my suicidal thoughts. Just thinking about seeing a therapist made my anxiety flare up.
All the different scenarios that could take place would run through my mind whenever I thought about getting help. I was afraid of being put on medication or that I’d be forced into a mental health institution for treatment. Moreover, I was afraid of what people around me would think of me if they knew about my struggles. I was especially afraid of what my family would think.
Lastly, I was afraid of letting go of the views I held on to about mental health for so long. I am a Christian, and I struggled with feeling like my mental health issues meant that my faith is weak. Those fears kept me from reaching out for help the two times I felt I was ready to.
I started my blog last year in March. Interacting with other bloggers, and seeing how open many of them are with their mental health conditions was inspiring. I realized how freeing it can be to open up about our struggles. I was also beginning to grow tired of trying to fix my problems on my own. It was time for me to seek help. I was scared at first, but I wasn’t willing to let my anxiety stop me this time.
I started seeing a therapist regularly, and I recently even decided to start taking antidepressants. Both have been helping tremendously. I even began talking with my family about my struggles and my suicidal thoughts. One of my siblings told me that she has never had suicidal thoughts, and never thought she would be better off gone. Talking with her and the rest of my family made me realize that I really did need help.
4 Important Lessons
Since I started going to therapy and taking antidepressants, I’ve learned four important lessons:
- I learned that my fears about what happens when someone reaches out for help with mental health issues were unwarranted.
- My mental health struggles don’t make me any less of a Christian. Christians can have mental illnesses too.
- Medication for mental illnesses might not be the answer for every person with a mental illness, but they definitely can help for some. There is no shame in giving them a try.
- Opening up about my mental health struggles was definitely liberating, and I’m glad I reached out for help.
Over to you
What can we learn from Charli’s journey? Do you have any thoughts or comments on this honest and open post about Charli’s journey? Any questions? In the meantime, stay safe and look after your own mental wellbeing.