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My fight with mental health

I have always battled with my mental health. Even when I didn't know it.


Bloody cuticles and bald spots.


That was my reality as a child. I would twirl my hair all day every day even in my sleep.


Little did I know that these were symptoms of severe anxiety as a child. I would be told to "stop that" and the doctors that would have to cut and bandage my fingernails would say "you better stop now or.."


No one was advocating for me or asking the important questions.

I went through years of emotional baggage and confusion. My teenage years were blacked out nights and mornings laying on the bathroom floor. It was alcohol poisoning and trying to take my life. I didn't honor my emotions or even allow myself to feel them. I drank them. I couldn't handle how powerful my thoughts were. It was constant. I blamed it on what I had been through. I didn't understand what it meant or that I had a chemical imbalance in my brain. I thought I was simply sad for years and that it would make me tougher by well, just getting by I guess.


Somewhere along the way, I had normalized all of my trauma. I just absorbed everything like a sponge. And then one day I woke up and couldn't stop crying. My walls broke. It was awful. Like all of my emotions hit me at once.


I had been holding everything in for so long. I was angry and I realized that I had been for a long time. Lashing out at my friends and even my grandparents. I was angry at the happy people. I envied those that didn't experience the hardship I did.


I was confused for a long time. I didn't know my next step or if I wanted to take one. Just masking my emotions with substances, products, etc.


Then, my life changed drastically. I moved away and decided to start fresh. I thought that would change everything. And it did. But the heaviness was still there. I was the happiest I'd ever been. Living in a new area, going back to school and essentially growing more as a person than I ever have.


Although I felt alive in so many other areas of my life, I felt weighed down at the end of the day. Always. After climbing and spending the day in a beautiful mountain town, I would still feel shame, guilt, and sadness. There was no reason. And there doesn't have to be " a reason " for this type of weight. I finally understood that having this feeling was not my fault and I didn't deserve it. It's tough playing tag with anxiety and depression-like tug of war. I had to stop hiding from myself.


So, I decided to face the scary thoughts.


It wasn't until recently, at the age of 22, that I realized I needed to see a therapist full time.


It's a crazy feeling, really. I feel like I'm getting to know myself all over again.


What has helped with my anxiety


Allowing it to happen


When I'm feeling super anxious, I breathe and allow the thoughts to come. I don't push it away or cover it up with alcohol. I simply let it come and let it go. We have the power to let a thought come and NOT act on it. (Even though it's hard)


Journaling


I started writing in a journal when I was in high school. It's always been a way for me to get the mixed-up thoughts out of my head and onto paper. Like I'm clearing a cutting board and throwing things into a pot to make homemade soup. I have made it a priority to be more intentional in my writing in the last year. I try to make sure I journal once a day, even if it's writing something in my notes on my phone. It helps. And you can look back later and realize how much you've grown since that time.


Therapy


This one is so important. I never had the means to go to therapy when I was younger, even though I should have. Therapy has been something I have taken on in my adult life as self-care. It's being able to talk and get everything out like word vomit to someone that is not in the situation. Almost like saying everything you need to say and having a person tell you "that's okay" and it freaking is! It's okay if you feel crazy sometimes. and it's okay if you need help. You don't need validation from anyone else, you just need to understand yourself. Make sure you find a therapist you can connect with, not someone who is there to make the money. I love my therapist and if you're in the Colorado area I have some recommendations!


Medication


This is a tough subject. A year ago I was very anti - prescription medicine. I tried to cure my depression and anxiety in my own way, holistically. But when it comes to your brain and imbalances, it's not so easy. Sure, you can do activities (like what I've listed below) to feel present and lessen your symptoms. And you can use the oils and teas, no hate on that! That helps as well. Unfortunately, my mental illness reached a severe point and I felt like I had no other option but to try daily medication. And I can confidently say that it has helped. Don't be afraid to do your research on what medication is available.

If you have further questions on this please reach out.


Being outside


Sometimes I force myself to just sit in the sun. I take off my shoes and walk in the grass. I take time to notice what's around me. I notice how heavy I am on the ground and how my sweater feels on my skin. It's grounding and it reminds me that I am present.


Connecting


Calling a close friend or family member lightens my load. It reminds me that I am lucky in this life. That I am loved and I do have a community. Sometimes you need that reminder. I made sure to put this one down because we all know how it is when you're down. You want to hide under the blankets and ignore the text messages. I get it. But as hard as it is, you need to push yourself during times of doubt or guilt for not getting out of bed. Open the curtains, wash your face, and connect with the world.


This is what I have for today.

I hope that you can take something from my words.


Know that I am always here to talk, no matter who you are.


Love,


Abby