“In order to help people survive, you must tell the story of your own survival.”
Five years ago on January 17th, I had a nervous breakdown. I went to school that day not feeling like myself. I remember my favorite sweater had little blood stains on the sleeves where my forearm was located. The previous night, I had self-harmed myself. I went to my guidance counselor that morning and was too afraid to return to my classes, and when he made me go back, I fell apart. This day was the first of many bad days, and the beginning of a downward spiral I called life.
During the first couple of months into that year, I was severely depressed. I pushed all of my good friends away from me, the people who I thought were my good friends all turned their backs on me, I had a bad reputation with the people I once cared for, and I was constantly fearing for my well-being.
All in all, I was a victim of severe mental bullying.
Because of my severe depression and paranoia over the things that were said and done, I began to make choices and decisions that not only affected me, but began to affect those who were scared for me, and trying to help me out. But even then the people who keep trying to help you, get tired of helping a helpless person.
By April, I felt what it was like to truly be alone. Shortly after that, I had constant suicidal thoughts. “What if I just let a driving car hit me in full speed? What if I drank the entire bottle of NyQuil tonight to help me sleep forever? Would anyone care if I was gone?”
It was my lowest point in my life thus far.
It took me a very long time to gain back control of my life. The constant fear and loneliness I felt always came back. The recovery stage of my life took years to
complete. Sometimes I feel like I’m still at that stage of my life. In some sort of strange way, I can only imagine this is what PTSD feels like. But after it all, I came out of it a better person. Those traumatic events help define me because I am who I am because of them. It’s why I’m an advocate for proper mental health awareness and self-care.
Many people don’t realize that being mentally healthy is just as important as being physically healthy. People will live most of their lives with these problems; some are too afraid to admit that they might be mentally ill because of the stigma mental health has. “People with mental illnesses are dumb and stupid, they’re just damaged goods” is just one of the many things I’ve heard people describe mental illness. Mental illness is just as important to treat, just how cancer, chronic illnesses, and physical illnesses are.
I was lucky to get myself out of my own depression. I know a lot of people who aren’t fortunate enough to handle their depression and get out of it. Depression is so much more than “just being sad”. People who have depression attempt and commit suicide more than any other diagnosed mental disorder. It constantly makes every feeling you have ten times worse; you feel lonely when you’re not, you feel hopelessness and unworthy when you’re not, and you feel sad even when you’re smiling.
All people heal differently. I know my coping mechanisms may not work on some people, and that’s okay. As a survivor, many other people’s methods of coping didn’t work on me. Find your own or tweak some of these universal tips that I most certainly found helpful while coping with depression:
- Write down how you are feeling in a journal. Keeping strong emotions bottled up inside isn’t healthy for anyone. If you feel like your inner bottle is filled to the rim, empty it by writing down how you feel. Releasing that on pen and paper helps you organize the emotions that you’re really feeling. It puts those feelings out in the world, and not stuck in your mind.
- Find a hobby. My hobby when I was trying to get over my depression was watching TV Crime dramas, oddly enough. I started to watch The Killing and interacted with the Twitter community that these two women created. That fandom seriously saved my life. Find something that will ease your mind. I know a lot of people who use art as a source of relaxation; so grab an adult coloring book and color. Draw/paint something. Relax your mind.
- Go for long walks. Every now and then when I need to clear my mind, I get out the house and go walking for as long as I need to. Focusing your energy on walking and being naturally alert of the things around you will help you clear out any lingering negative thoughts you may be thinking or feeling.
- Always talk to someone when you are feeling down. I use to bottle up my emotions because I always felt like nobody wanted to listen to my issues or problems. When I realized that the only way I was going to get a second opinion on things was to talk to someone else, that’s when I found my one person to always talk to when I’m feeling down. My best friend, Obie, is that person for me. Finding a person who will allow you to talk will be hard to find and trust at first and if you can’t find someone to talk to, there are communities out there dedicated to talking to you when you are down. Just know you are not alone.
- Always know that this feeling is temporary and things get better. When you experience something that was traumatic or life-altering, at first it does leave an emotional scar on you that could take a really long time to heal; I’m still trying to let mine heal after all these years. Just because you can’t make the scar disappear completely, doesn’t mean you can’t overcome the effect of it. Look at your emotional scars as motivation to come out of things stronger and better.
- Don’t be afraid to get help. Sometimes, your last resort is to finally go and see a therapist and have a professional handy to help you with any psychological issues. You are not weak for doing so, but rather really strong for admitting you need the extra help. The quicker you accept this and look past it, the faster you’ll feel better about yourself.
At the end of the day, your mental health is extremely important. If your mind is healthy, you will start making decisions that are healthy for you. Your mentality is your reality, so make everyday a great one by simply taking care of your mental health.
I made it my mission to get my mind healthy again. I survived it. You can too.
*All images included in this post belong to the person who created these wonderful, beautiful statements about mental health and self-care.