Hey, guys – welcome back to TNTH! Even more so, welcome to the first official day of “Twelve Days of TNTHmas!”
It’s only right if I dedicate this first day to possibly one of my favorite things I’ve introduced to the blog:
Guys, let me start off this rant by saying just how much I missed writing for the blog.
When I first started TNTH (almost a year ago), I started the blog trying to portray this idea that I was this put together person who had all the answers to life and if you needed something answered, I was able to solicit my advice to you guys just because I want to help others with any issues they were having at the time. As the months past, I lost the passion I had for the blog, and that’s when many of the hiatus periods started. But as I’ve started to write for me and what expressed me best, I began to find my reasons in why I started this blog in the first place. Now here I am, extremely happy to be starting this new little series on TNTH.
I wanted to use this voiceless rant to express my honesty about something that I feel like many people can relate to because it’s still considered such a stigma in society. Here at TNTH, we advocate self-awareness, self-worth, self-love, self-acceptance, and we take mental health seriously. We express to our readers that if they feel like they are at a place in their life where they feel like they personally want to give up on life, they shouldn’t be afraid to talk and reach out to those around them or to a professional. I’ve realized in the last couple of weeks that saying it is a lot easier than actually doing it. Even though I personally go against the stigma mental health has, it’s hard to fight against it when many of us still believe in it.
I come from a family of mental illness; it’s apparent on both sides of my family. It has carried down generation after generation and it has been unspoken and unseen on both sides of the family. I grew up watching one side of my family disown a family member for being mentally ill, and even though it’s more than just that, that’s how my sister and I grew up to see it as. Currently, a family member of mine is going through a process of delusionality, something that was passed down within the family. The only person who was brave enough to seek help with their mental health was my sister, and she still is persistent and active with getting extra help. Other than that, even bringing up mental health with my family is always frowned upon; you’re labeled “crazy” or looked upon as “weak.” Granted, I come from a Puerto Rican and Italian background: basically two of the ethnicities that don’t respond to mental health talk so well.
For the last year, I’ve been dealing with some bad anxiety and depression due to grad school and my life in general. I slowly felt like I was having issues with everything in my life, I lost most of my friends from undergrad, and I was dealing with the nonstop work grad school provides their students with. Being the first in your family to graduate college and almost graduate grad school puts a lot of pressure on me. My family has this belief that with my master’s degree, I’m going to be making that good money that will eventually get the family out of poverty on hard weeks. To a perfectionist like me, that translates to “you need to get a great paying job when you graduate or else two years of grad school was really for nothing!” and I know that’s not what my family means, but it registers like that, and I’m constantly panicking about what life is gonna be like this time next year and where I’m going to be. I barely have the time to think about the present, what makes you think I’m thinking about jobs?
Every time I do express my concerns about grad school, I pretty much get the same reply from everyone: you’ll get through it, just keep pushing and do what you gotta do. Please stop telling me to keep pushing forward and get the work done. I already know all of that, but that doesn’t stop the anxiety, the pressure, and the late nights of writing 5 pages of work at a time for the following class. That doesn’t stop the mini panic attacks I get if I’m stranded at 10 o’clock at night trying to get home from class in the dark in a different borough. That doesn’t stop the constant struggle of trying to prove myself in a universe where I don’t exist because I’m not a literature major. Telling me to get the work done and over it is pretty much like telling me to build a bridge and get over it.
As much as I wrote about how I felt during this year on TNTH, I still didn’t express these concerns to my family. In my family, I feel like I always had to take on this role of being the “strong one”. I was meant to keep the family together when shit got tough and that I was never bothered or upset about the things that were happening. I’ve always been described as the “calm and happy one” and it kills me whenever my mother would unintentionally joke around and tell me I’m not the bubbly girl I once was, that I’m “boring.” I know she means no harm, but even things like that flare up the depression I’ve been rocking ever since this year started.
This year alone, I’ve probably gained a lot of weight. I cut almost 8 inches of my hair, completely damaged the shit out of it. I never knew how my day was gonna go because I was so used to feeling upset or sad during the day. My anxiety got worse, I don’t feel confident or pretty anymore, my relationships with my friends, family, and even with Obie began to suffer, and I’ve had my fair share of nights when all I wanted to do was be invisible to the world. Most importantly, I lost my passion for writing.
Still to this day, nobody (besides Megan) really knows these things about me.
Because that’s the thing about mental health: nobody can see it unless you acknowledge its presence. It’s not noticeable unless you’re shouting at the top of your lungs that you’re depressed and don’t feel like living the life you have anymore. If you’re not expressing your mental health verbally, nobody is going to see the signs. As far as I know, nobody came up to me this year and asked me how I was doing. Nobody saw that little by little my hair was getting shorter and shorter. Nobody saw how I don’t wear makeup anymore and I don’t do anything pretty to my hair. Nobody saw how I just completely stopped painting my nails. Nobody saw me stay up at 3 in the morning to finish assignments that were tedious and frustrating. Nobody saw that I stopped doing the things that made me happy. Nobody saw how distant I was becoming. Nobody came up to me and asked me if I was okay.
But it’s also my fault that I never expressed the severity of my depression. I thought it was just a phase of being too stressed out over grad school and all of that, but even when the work stopped I felt those same things. When I tried to attempt to express my thoughts and feelings, they were never taken seriously because it’s always the running joke that grad school is stressful as fuck because of the workload. I always thought that my thoughts on grad school, no matter how much of it is actually my life, were a burden to those around me; that I was going to become that girl who spoke nothing but my struggles in grad school and I felt really embarrassed to share my concerns.
Even after all of this, I’m still telling those around me that I’m fine.
I don’t know when I’ll be ready to break this stigma, but I’m personally at the point in my life where it has to break sooner or later or else my life is going to go down a rabbit hole that it has not been in for years. I just wish people could see what’s wrong and give me the support without even having to ask me. I don’t always want to talk about all these issues; half of the time they make me cry and relive the year over in 10 minutes. I wish I wasn’t so afraid to seek the help that I need. I’m not on the verge of killing myself or anything, but I know I’m also not living my best life.
So, thank you guys for allowing me to express myself on here. I don’t know if I’ll feel fine after writing and posting this. I don’t know when I will feel fine. There’s no set and goal time for recovery, but I know I will someday look back at this and be like damn girl, why didn’t you speak out sooner?
It’s okay not to feel okay, and it’s okay to express your not-okayness out loud.