One of the biggest ways talking about my mental health has helped me is to identify my struggles. When I realized my anxiety was one of the underlying issues to my depression, I figured out a way to understand it. I researched online and found articles that related to me. Suddenly, I had a clear understanding of how my brain was working, and how I could try to fix it. I was able to understand that people with anxiety often have active imaginations, which in turn leads to creating unrealistic scenarios in our heads. How many times had I stayed up tossing and turning, thinking my boyfriend was cheating? When in reality he just liked to drink too much, and the reason he stayed out late was just to do more drinking. Why was I always so nervous before job interviews, and already convinced I wasn’t good enough before walking in the door? Oh right, because my anxiety crept out and decided to remind me all the ways I wasn’t good enough, or smart enough, or experienced enough. I was never able to showcase my best self because I wasn’t thinking like my best self. All this time I spent not identifying my anxiety only made it worse. It grew, and festered into a depression so deep I didn’t recognize myself. Did I just sit on the couch all day? Me? The girl who used to have three jobs while going to school full time? I was a mess, but I didn’t want to admit it. After finally identifying that I have anxiety, and admitting it to myself, I have gotten so much better. I am able to tell my brain when it’s overreacting. I am focused on the type of positive self-talk I want coming from my head. I am able to accept that I am doing my best, and sometimes that’s all you can do!
The second way talking about my mental health has helped me is by strengthening my relationships with others. Recently, I moved back home. It wasn’t easy, but it was a necessary change. My first week home all of my girlfriends and I went out to dinner to catch up. I was nervous to disclose the real reason I had to move back across the country. I decided there was no point in hiding it anymore and confided in them about my anxiety and depression. I told them how I had slipped so low, that my brain needed a reset. Their reaction was not what I had expected. I was stunned as some of them began to open up about their own anxiety issues. We all in some way had experienced some anxiety. They helped me feel normal, and safe talking about the issues I had struggled with most. After being able to talk to them, I feel that it has strengthened our friendship, and increased the ways we are there for each other. Next came the time to open up to my parents about how depressed I was feeling. Unfortunately, in my family, it’s very taboo to discuss mental health. I believe this is part of the reason I had so much trouble accepting there was anything wrong with my brain, and the way it was working. I explained to them the anxiety and racing thoughts. My father was able to relate. He gave me advice on how to keep busy, and about staying positive. My mother provided unconditional support. She is always getting me out of the house, and most importantly out of my own head. She can make me laugh until I cry, but still deliver the harsh truths I needed to hear sometimes. Overall, I realized how silly it was I hadn’t confided in all these people sooner. They loved me, and accepted me, no matter what.
The most important reason I believe people should be talking about their mental health is to kill the stereotype. The stereotype that people with mental health issues are crazy. The belief that they can’t be helped, or should be shunned. How talking about mental health can still make some people feel so uncomfortable. Part of this belief definitely stems from how I grew up. The fact that I feel like if I had identified this erratic thinking sooner; I would have been better off. Being afraid to share our mental health issues is a huge part of the problem altogether. We can’t get help unless we talk about it, yet no one wants to talk about it. I hate that in society today having a mental health problem is still seen in such a negative way. Although, I know it is slowly becoming more acceptable. Media has begun to portray more mental health issues on television. The workplace is even becoming a more accepting place to discuss mental health. I am so happy self-care has become so popular in today’s culture. I am a firm believer that a facemask and a quick meditation can solve all your problems. I love being able to share my mental health issues, in the hopes that someone else will open up. This is how we grow as a society, by changing the way mental health is perceived.
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