I have anxiety. PTSD. Depression. But most importantly, I lack shame, I have all these things but I am strong beside them.
As a child I was abused, and through my teenage years I can’t say I’ve been in the healthiest relationships, with spatters of sexual, emotional and physical abuse, I became anxious and unable to trust, so part of my mental health was written in the stars of my genetics and part of it was learned behaviour, something my circumstances put me in. I am in weekly therapy and daily consciousness of my condition, I’ve taught myself that I have to be. I self harmed for over three years and I am finally on a relapse free couple of months, I’ve attempted suicide three major times, but a few years ago, I thought about it every waking day. It’s taken a while for me to get okay, to be okay, but that’s alright, now I’m okay, now I am strong, like I said earlier, I am strong beside my mental health, strong within it. Don’t get me wrong, some days are hard, some days are awful, some days I’ve stayed home, ignored my phone and felt useless, for absolutely no reason, but there are great days, cloud nine days, carnival bliss days and lilac fresh mornings, and while those lows are lower than they could be, I am happy.
I am unashamed.
This was vital for me, and for everyone other person I’ve met who has struggled with mental illness.
I just want to say thank you for reading, for listening, for understanding and for still treating me like the sixteen year old musician I am. It seems strange, but I admit that I still have hesitance when talking about my mental health, I am not ashamed, but I still worry about wording, about seeming like I pity myself for my circumstances.
At any rate, a lack of shame is what helped me through my pains, what helped me find my core and strengthen my sense of self. There’s this sense of shame, a culture of stigmas, in our society and it makes being as open about a therapy appointment as you would be about a a broken leg a very difficult thing. Mental health is too often blamed on the patients, on the afflicted, when it’s not in our hands, it’s in our genetics, in our histories or in what some might call our fate. There’s no way for us it to prevent it, there’s not a “Mental Health Brain Sanitizer” with the catchy sales pitch of “Prevent sticky anxiety and tiring depression! With just one cleaning a day you can be confident that your days will be free of those mental health causing ions! Complete with glitter!”
Dealing with mental health is hard, it’s a lifelong struggle no matter how safe you are, no matter how proud you are, but I will try and give you some tips, they worked for me, and don’t get me wrong, I don’t think they’ll work for everyone, but they did for me.
One of the first things I did was to take a minute, an hour, an afternoon, or, if possible, a day off, do what you need to relax yourself; for me that is lighting incense, setting some Pink Floyd on the turntable and having a warm bath, for my friend it was Tumblr, the blogging site that everyone is so in love with. It doesn’t matter, as long as you feel safe, and away, the most important thing I found was to feel like you were away, away from a town, away from certain people, away from your textbooks, away from the mirrors in your house, whatever makes you comfortable. The second thing I found helpful was emotional distance, not only is physical distance important, like I just mentioned, emotional distance is one of the things that helped me the most, by taking yourself out of your problems. “Thinking” yourself out of a rut, with positive self talk (I know, I know, the word self talk has probably been shot at you by every person you talk to about this, but it does help), for example, I put an alarm on my phone, for before I go to school and before I go to bed, saying that I am a “wonderful princess, who deserves to be happy as heck”, it’s cheesey, but I’ve found that it works. The last major thing that helped me through my worst days was change, even though change used to give me horrendous anxiety attacks, I realized that every time I made a change that I liked, that I wanted and that I controlled, I was happy, I ditched the people who made me upset, and pushed myself to try new things. These sorts of changes could be as small as changing my bedsheets to an unexpected pattern, or putting up some new posters, getting new shampoo, changing my make up style up, changing my wallpaper on my phone, or as big as joining a new school club or extra curricular, learning a new instrument, or changing my route to school. I always felt that change was forced upon me, change was something I was never behind, and now I can say that all the changes I can control, I do.
There’s not much I can tell you, I don’t know you, and you barely know me, but I can tell you how I deal with my disorders and how you are not alone, I will never be able to stress that enough to other people in my position, we are not alone. These feelings, as insulting as it may be to hear, are not new, there are other people in your place, who are entering that position, or who are slowly learning to cope, as hard as it may be. This is one of the greatest resources in the world; similar experiences can give you hope, can give you a support system. There are other people who have felt like this, and nearly everyone has felt some form of this, they may not understand exactly what you’re going through, but they can try and help, talk you through whatever is going on, and maybe you can do that for someone else. Whatever happens, you’ll be okay, whatever happens, remember that you come first in your world, whatever happens, remember that you are not alone.
You got this.
I am a 16 year old girl who has struggled with anxiety and depression my whole life, I am a proud bisexual and social activism, fighting in the name of feminism, I love music, photography and have an incredible desire to travel the world, my twitter account is @pastelspinach and my tumblr is flannelandconverse, if anyone ever wants to talk, I am always available. Above all, I think we’re going to change the world!