Hello everyone! I know its been a while since I made a post, but today I’m going to be talking on something that’s so close to my heart.
Although its coming to a close, May is Mental Health Awareness month. A month where we’re supposed to be conscious about the important of mental health and the seriousness or impact of mental illness.
CW: Anxiety, Depression, Suicide, Suicidal thoughts, Body Dysmorphic Disorder, Anorexia Nervosa.
Anxious and depressed is my normal, its always been a constant in my life.
I’ve lived with anxiety and depression pretty much all my life. I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t affected by either. Anxiety and depression are entwined with my earliest memories, and as fucked up as it is, its all I know.
Growing up was hard because I knew nothing about mental illnesses and how to cope with living with them. There was no knowledge about them, throughout my primary and secondary schooling. I was taught nothing about depression, anxiety and other mental illness. It was like they didn’t exist, like feeling so empty was unheard of or normal. And the only thing I heard in connection to mental illness was that suicide was a sin. We could openly judge and declare suicide a sin, but talking about the issues that lead to this decision was a taboo subject.
As a child and early teen, I was always filled with overwhelming emptiness and constantly invasive thoughts, on some days it was hard to do so much as breathe. I remember the first time I was tempted to listen to my suicidal thoughts; I was 8 and so fed up, so so tired, I wanted to end it all. I think I would if my little brother hadn’t been there. I haven’t really talked to anyone about this, with exception of my mum earlier this year when we finally had a serious talk about my mental health or an acquaintance who shared a suicide awareness post. My brother and I have never spoken of that day, even though I’m fairly sure he remembers it all, I don’t think you ever forget things like that.
Mental illnesses are as serious as physical ones. They even get ‘physical’…
On some days, I wanted to stop breathing, to stop living and stop feeling so much pain. Some days were good, I could laugh even though I was always wary. Sometimes, I wondered, I daydreamed about how it would feel to stop breathing, to being in pain, how blissful it would feel. I was this way even till secondary school. Even on my good days I was tethering on the edge, one wrong or ill timed word or gesture would send me into a nervous breakdown. I was constantly on alert; every little sound and touch would send me into sensory overload. It wasn’t so hard to get there especially since the physical effects of my mental illnesses were also starting to manifest around that time; the tremors, nausea and GI issues, unrelenting headaches, hypersomnia and insomnia, hypnagogia, forgetfulness, fatigue, breathlessness and maybe even the chest pain and angina related symptoms. I was completely helpless to my mind, the taunts it seemed to whisper to me and my spiraling thoughts. The environment wasn’t exactly helping and neither were the relationships I had. Being so damaged mentally and not knowing to do about it didn’t do me much good because co-morbid mental illnesses have a way of making one so vulnerable, so I had toxic friendships and suffered from other mental illnesses that I haven’t fully recovered from. I had a borderline case of anorexia nervosa and body dysmorphic disorder. Life was so hard for me, everyday was a struggle to not lose it. Even now, sometimes it still is.
I got better-ish and learnt a bit about depression and anxiety, at least for a while…
Things got slightly better when I started university, especially in my second year. Although, I suffered from a pretty long depressive episode, one of my longest, lasting about four months. I felt extremely tired and sad, my tremors were pretty bad, I broke into tears at random times, I had panic attacks and those mini heart attacks were a tiny bit frequent. I had just left home for the first time ever, I was so anxious and depressed, I was spiraling out of control and barely able to keep myself together. But, it got better though — I got better — I learnt how to cope, how to do without my support system, how to deal with comfort and familiarity being so far away, and I began to research more on anxiety and depression.
School surprisingly, despite how it also brings me down, ‘helped’ me.
Since entering college and getting into my second year, I learnt so much about depression and anxiety and how it related so much to what I was going through. I learnt most of what I know from books with mentally ill characters, articles on the internet and interactions with members of the bookish community, but what made a difference was the classes I took in Human Behavioural Medicine in the second semester of my second year in uni. The classes in mental health and mental illness gave me more insight on what was happening to me, and somewhere in the middle of the semester was the questionnaire from the behavioural medicine department on the mental health of students at the college of medicine. I scored absurdly high for both mental illnesses (16/ 21 for anxiety and 15/21 for depression at that moment because I was in the middle of another bad episode, and 15/21 and 14/21 after retaking the quiz), but somehow the results of my questionnaire never got back to my lecturers ( I swear it wasn’t me this time, I just wasn’t at school at the time of submission). I felt half sick and worried and half validated that I wasn’t exaggerating and that people who see the extent of how screwed up my mind is, but it never got to the hands of those who could help me.
I’m tired of feeling tired.
This year, my biggest resolution was to take better care of my mental health, seek help and understand my triggers better. I can’t say I’ve been doing exactly that since I’ve had multiple episodes and mental breakdowns, but I’ve had more conversation with my parents about my mental illness. I’ve been able to come out to my parents, well a bit, about the extent of my illness and I’m quite glad they somewhat understand. They might not fully grasp what it means and how much it affects me, but they try their best to be supportive and learn how to help me. I still intend to see a psychologist. I’ve started making plans with a friend to see one of my behavioural science lecturers for help, since my school doesn’t have a rehab unit.
I really don’t want to lose myself. I don’t want to get worse. I don’t want to finally break down, to have that big break. Its hard to keep it together most of the time, especially with the stress of school and trying not disappoint my family and even myself. I want to try, even when I know it might likely result to nothing.
Thank you for reading my rather disjointed rambling. I’m sorry if I make no sense, I don’t exactly do this, I’m not so good at expressing my feelings especially with this.
I hope you all have a nice day and stay happy ❤.