So I am right in the middle of a pair of really bad, really dark days where my depression and anxiety has gotten the worst of me and has manifested in infuriating physical symptoms (super tight chest, having trouble breathing a bit, headaches, blurred vision and a sense of disconnection to my environment). I feel constantly on the verge of a panic attack but I haven’t yet had one. I am seriously unsure what triggered it because I was doing fine at work. I was nervous and upset about the election, which may have contributed, but really, not sure. Sometimes these things are a mystery. It’s just the way the brain work I guess. I truly haven’t had these symptoms in over a year. I thought I was free!! Guess not.
Anyways, I’ve realized that my blog has attempted to be positive and inspiring and to lift people up and make them feel as if they can do anything. And I think that’s true. But I do know that life is a struggle. It’s not always linear. We aren’t just better one day and forever better. Recovery is a process, sometimes cyclical, where we have to be constantly work to fight for ourselves and our bodies to feel whole. So I think it is truly inspiring in itself to tell the stories of when people aren’t doing so well as well. We don’t want people to always think that everyone with mental health can so easily thrive if only they have the right medication, the right therapist, the right coping mechanisms. Sometimes these fail. Sometimes the right thing changes. What worked once might not work anymore. And this is scary. So terrifying. Because these are our minds, our health. Mental health is physical health. We want them to be in tip-top shape so that we can accomplish our goals. But sometimes our goals just have to become smaller. Getting out of bed becomes an accomplishment. Forget a Master’s, my next accomplishment will be going to work every day in a row for a month without calling in sick because the symptoms are so bad I can’t get out of bed. And just this thought is so depressing. We have to settle for these small accomplishments because our messed-up brains will stop us from being able to do the hard work needed to accomplish truly great things? The things we dreamed about as kids and dream about now. I have so many dreams. SO many. And I worry they will never happen. I want to start an online community, which I have, and I am trying to grow it. So that’s exciting. But I also want to organize social activities and speaker panel series and fundraisers. One day I want to publish a book. One day I want to run my own foundation. I really don’t know if I can get there though. I have a perfectly amazing job right now that challenges me and helps me be creative and use new ways of thinking. My co-workers and boss are so supportive and I think we have been able to produce such high-quality content. I am super proud of it. I just hope that my stupid brain and stupid body don’t screw that up too.
It’s not that I am not talented. I know objectively that many people have told me so. It’s not that I am not hard-working. When I am attached a mission, I will do all that I can to accomplish that mission. I don’t mind doing the little nitty gritty details that people might find boring, like inputting data into Excel spreadsheets. It’s so fun for me because I can see the purpose.
It’s those feelings that come up when I am stuck in this place of physical pain. Maybe you are imagining this. Maybe you are manifesting these symptoms because you are boring and lazy. Maybe your boyfriend hates you because you complain too much about the pain. Maybe he will break up with you and then he will move out and you won’t be able to afford your apartment alone and become homeless. Maybe you’ll lose your job and you’ll never get another one because you are stupid, incompetent, boring and slow. You are literally the worst person on this planet. You are so lucky yet you do not show enough gratitude. Others have it way worse than you. Stop using your mental illness as an excuse. Rise above it and suck it up. But you won’t be able to because it’s hopeless. You’re hopeless. You don’t deserve any of this.
I’m worried these feelings won’t help me use my current job as a growing experience so that my path will lead me to my dreams. I’m worried that I will lose friendships. I worry that I am so focused on my own mental health and my own goals that I cannot fit more in my brain. But I seriously want to know about my friend’s kids, promotions, health issues, hobbies and more. I just need to make the space to soak it all in. I need the understanding that it might take me a while but I am there if they need me. Because I am.
This is what happens when I have these physical anxiety symptoms. So now, I told you that I would give you one of my coping mechanisms. Seriously, this is my biggest secret that only two people currently know but I am finally breaking free and telling the word. I really…love…cracking other people’s knuckles! I know this is super weird habit. It makes no sense. But I have the most amazing partner/boyfriend who lets me crack his once in a while. He lets me be crazy. And I truly appreciate it. Some days, I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t crack his knuckles. It is a very comforting feeling. A quick google search found a forum of people discussing cracking people’s joints for them so I guess I am not as crazy as I thought. Truly, the bizarre habit is a testament to how much he supports my every need and how caring he is.
This whole blog post is a rant so I am going to end it with this. The election in the United States has caused me great anxiety and potentially some of my pain is the literal heartbreak of knowing that man who is sexist, (potentially a sexual assaulter), racist, incites violence, stupid, incompetent, selfish and more will be leading our great Ally and neighbour. He DENIES climate change for pete’s sake. America, please don’t destroy your environment. Please continue on the path to green energy.
Anyways, I feel so disassociated that I truly don’t care right now what happens but I know tomorrow I will hopefully wake up feeling refreshed with new energy. What I do hope is that President-elect Donald Trump addresses the needs of ALL Americans, particularly people with severe mental disorders like me. If his policies and ideas are anything like super Trump supporter Ann Coulter, than we are all in trouble. She is a huge advocate for involuntarily confining people with mental illness to institutions.This is just one marginalized group of people who will probably suffer under his presidency, including people with disabilities and people from racialized communities or the gay community. It’s going to be tough.
I currently live in Canada but Slay Girl Society is supposed to be an international community so I look forward to contributing to this discussion and see where the acts of a dedicated community can make improvements in the field of mental health, in all countries. That’s where I personally feel like I can make a difference. I will obviously contribute to other causes if I can but this is where I want to focus. I want to collaborate with Americans to tell the stories of women and men who need better care, better treatment and better support. As Hillary Clinton said just this morning “Never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it.”
Love you all!