I kept my struggles with mental health quiet for many years. There were literally a handful of people who knew what I dealt with and of that handful, no one knew the full extent of my issues. I have struggled with anxiety and depression nearly my entire life and I always tried to push through it. It was something that I thought I had to be strong enough to deal with on my own.
When I did seek help I was told by the first therapist I saw that my issues weren’t “that bad” because my scars were small. This woman also told me that she needed a break and simply wanted to play games. In my early twenties when I decided to try and get professional help again, I was immediately prescribed medication that was not right for me. I stopped taking the medication and it would be nearly another decade before I sought help again. The place I was referred to ended up being a clinic for people with addiction issues (which I did not have—they sent me there because that was the only location near me that offered any kind of assistance for mental health) and the physician sat with me for twenty minutes and immediately prescribed me medication for bipolar disorder–again, which I did not have. He also took phone calls from other patients during my session. I got off of that medication and I have not been back to a professional since.
Entering that environment, somewhere you are completely vulnerable and seeking guidance, with the idea that I needed to tough it on my own coupled with mental health professionals that were not right for me made it difficult to ever really admit that I had a problem to anyone. I didn’t feel if someone professional could tell me what was wrong then I had no business talking about it. Plus I carried the guilt of knowing other people struggled worse than I did.
It took me until now, when I am nearly 40 years old, to understand that we have to be our own advocates because not everyone will be in our arena. I also learned that it isn’t a competition about who “has it worse” when it comes to these struggles. Different issues require different treatments but we are all in the same pool. I read a quote that said something to the effect of you can drown in seven inches of water or twenty feet of water, you have still drowned so stop comparing.
I have learned to celebrate how far I have come because it has been a long battle to keep myself upright on some days. I commend and celebrate all the warriors trying to keep upright because the effort it takes to simply brush your teeth on some days can feel like the weight of the world. Keep moving, as slowly and as gently as you need to. Keep moving because there is always another day. Keep moving because you are inherently worthy. Keep moving because this world needs you.