This story is part of a blog series called, “Your Story: a conversation on mental and emotional health and disabilities.” Please read with a heart open and understanding – free of judgement.
Please be aware, within this interview, this individual brings up struggling with: anxiety, depression, hopelessness, self harm, disordered eating, disordered sleep, suicidal thoughts, and suicide attempts are brought up. If these topics affect you in any way please stop reading, talk with a someone you trust, or contact a mental health professional immediately. You may also call the Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255).
A Note On Editing
Minor changes were made to help make the interview easier to read. I have also taken the liberty to add a few comments within the interview. They are clearly marked in italics.
Allow me to Introduce…
This story comes from a recent high school graduate. I’ll be honest, her story is hard to read because it is very apparent that she is actively fighting her mental and emotional health battle. But, I am grateful for the candid honesty of her story.
When did you realize there was something mentally or emotionally wrong? And what did you do about it?
I only realized that things were not right when I was feeling like every day was hopeless, and there was nothing to live for.
Are there/were there moments in your life where this mental/emotional struggle becomes more present and you’re more aware of its existence?
I became aware that things were off when I asked a friend for advice. Now, I struggle daily with depression and anxiety.
How has this experience affected your relationships with others?
I was irritable, moody, and didn’t want anything to do with anyone around me. It was straining to all of my relationships.
This can be one of the hardest struggles to deal with. When you’re in the deep dark hole of depression, you don’t want to be around people because you’re exhausted, and you don’t want to bring down them down away from their happiness. Anxiety makes it extremely difficult to trust others, to be comfortable out in public, and to be okay with yourself and all of your imperfections. And all of the uncomfortable emotions just seem to roar their ugly heads at all the wrong moments anytime your around someone you love and care about. It makes COMPLETE sense that you would retreat away from your relationships.
What methods have you found are beneficial for your treatment and healing?
I haven’t really found any yet. I just learned to deal with it better. I shove it down and cry once a month maybe.
As one who regularly experiences emotional constipation, I very strongly recommend not doing this. All of the emotional pressures and un-experienced feelings build and build and build until eventually KA-BOOM!!! everything is unleashed in a vicious explosion. Also, keeping emotions hidden away is often the root cause of physical ailments – just some food for thought.
What keeps you from receiving or accepting treatment and healing?
Nothing has helped in the past, so I see no point in going back to therapy.
A brief word on Therapy/Counseling
Therapy only works if the two parties are actively involved.
First – the active participation of the individual seeking therapy. Emphasis on the word “seek.” Any individual attending therapy needs to want to be there. They need to put in the work to get better just like a cancer patient actively receives chemotherapy to treat their cancer.
Second – the active participation of the therapist. Not all therapists are created equal. Some are happy listening to your problems for the rest of your life because they get paid. Other therapists have an active plan that they adapt to meet your needs and utilizes homework and exercises to invite a change of behavior and thought patterns.
Third – real talk here: picking a therapist is like being put on the right anti-depressants or anti-anxiety or any other mental health prescription. It is not always a one size fits all experience. You may disagree with their treatment methods. Their morals and values may bleed too much into their practice. And sometimes personalities just don’t mingle.
So, if your therapy experience isn’t what you need it to be, first ask yourself if you are doing all you can to make your therapy what it needs to be; second talk to your therapist about what his plans are for your treatment and be an active participant in coming up with a plan, and third, keep shopping. You are not legally tied to any one therapist, so if they aren’t meeting your needs find a new one.
What symptoms or behaviors of your mental/emotional health experience are the most difficult for you to handle? For example: self harm, disordered eating and sleeping, suicidal thoughts, loss of motivation.
All of the above: self harm, eating disorder, no sleep, suicidal, suicide attempts, and no motivation to do anything.
Have you shared your struggles with family and friends? If yes, what have their reactions been? Are they supportive, or do they wish to keep your struggles hidden?
We don’t really talk about it anymore. They never ask about it, and I never share.
I think it’s hard to ask someone who’s struggling with mental and emotional health how they’re doing because of three things: 1. You are afraid they are doing worse. 2. You are afraid they won’t be honest with you. 3. You are afraid you won’t be able to do anything to help. There has to be an open and honest line of communication in order for this to be beneficial.
What inspires you to stay hopeful through this experience? Or how do you find hope during this experience?
If you could travel back in time and visit yourself just before or just after recognizing there was something amiss, what would you tell yourself?
It doesn’t get better, but you get stronger.
You are right. In the moment, it feels like it will never get better, but I can promise you – IT WILL GET BETTER! It might not get better in the next hour or tomorrow or next week or even by the end of the year, but it will get better.
You are also right that you will get stronger, and you will develop ways to cope with the bad times, and you will flourish and find joy in the good times. You will keep changing and evolving and growing as you traverse the distance of your mental health journey.
If you met someone else going through a similar experience as yourself, what advice and words of courage would you give them?
I would encourage them to talk to someone they trust, and maybe think about seeing a therapist.
Thank you so much for your story. Keep Fighting! I know you will be okay.
Continuing The Conversation
The final question I asked as part of this interview was whether she was willing to connect with others about her story. She agreed and said that she would be willing to connect with any interested over Instagram. To continue to protect her privacy though, I will not disclose her Instagram handle in this post. If you are interested in connecting with her, please send your request to email@example.com, and I will forward your message to her directly.
Feel free to continue the conversation on mental and emotional health in the comments below. But please understand that your comments are being moderated and will be deleted if they are hurtful, hateful, or inappropriate in any way. This is a safe space to share your story about mental and emotional health and disabilities. Please do what you can to keep it as such.
A Note For Readers
If this story has inspired you to share your own story, please click here to be taken to the introductory post where you will learn where the inspiration for this blog series came from as well as how to participate.