Today is Bell Let’s Talk day, an initiative to end the stigma of mental health issues. Some of us, myself included, deal from mental health issues, know someone who suffers from it, or has someone in their life that goes through this illness and doesn’t even know about it. I have struggled with these issues, and even wrote about it last year. But I am sharing my experiences once again, as I now feel better about my story.
For a while I have dealt with some form of anxiety, but never really understood it. Because I didn’t understand what I was going through, I never knew how to talk about it. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and afraid to let anyone know what I was going through. This lead to bouts of depression, and only made me hide these issues even further.
I would stay up at night, questioning myself and the direction I was going in life, why relationships had failed, if I would have enough money to do so-and-so, why I didn’t get a job I applied for, and so on. My mind was my own worst enemy. I started talking myself down, and believed that people felt the same way about me.
I was afraid of what it meant to suffer from a mental health issue and if people knew I was going through it. What would people think of me? Would they judge me for it? Am I any less of a person for it? These questions kept creeping up in my mind and caused my anxiety to manifest itself into a greater issue. I would avoid social settings, stay away from crowds, and stick to places where I knew I had an escape or felt safe.
I looked to cope by myself, and silence the thoughts in my head, but it would only last so long before they came creeping back. I would suffer anxiety attacks in the privacy of my own home and prayed that no one would ever find out about them, as I thought I was going crazy and didn’t want people to know.
This was something that was starting to take away from my quality of life, and I wanted to get a better understanding of what it was I was going through. I did research, listened to interviews of others who were going through the same issues as me, and started to understand that it was alright to feel the way I did, and that I could talk about it.
Soon after, I found that there were others in my social and work circle who were experiencing the same things as me, and having those initial conversations made me feel better about what I was experiencing. I found comfort and empathy with others, and realized that my initial fear of expressing how I was feeling was unwarranted…I just had to find the right people to open up to.
I sought help, and it has made a world of difference to me. No matter how small the steps have been, from talking to one person, to a group of people, to a medical professional, it has been a path of feeling better about myself again.Being able to talk about my own mental health and not be afraid to share my experiences is all a part of my own healing. I knew I couldn’t do it on my own and I needed to find help in some form. I am grateful for the support system I have found, and it all started with the choice to talk about what I was going through. It really does get better, and all we need to do is eliminate the stigma behind mental health issues and provide a forum for others to talk about what they’re going through. We no longer have to be afraid and feel that our voice won’t be heard, we are loved, and the people who matter the most in our lives are the ones who truly want to help.