I have been lying to you all.
Lying is something I don’t like, that makes me uncomfortable and I don’t condone. The lie I’ve been spreading to the audience of the Loafer hasn’t been an intentional one and it’s rooted in truth, like most good lies. But as I’m writing this, it is World Mental Health Day and I feel an obligation to come clean because I am sick of being part of the problem.
As much as good and positive things have been happening for me, I am overall still not a happy person. I write my column very much in the same way a lot of people upload content to their social media- we post the highlights, the good points and the way we want people to see us. That has formed a very toxic world to live in, because it creates an illusion to others that you have a life they want and then they feel down on themselves when they can’t achieve it. I want to express right now that while I am a very blessed individual compared to some, I am still very much struggling in this world and at the moment I feel like I am drowning and if you feel that way, you are not alone.
As I am getting older and more in tune with my body, I’ve begun to take note of patterns and really acknowledging how I’m responding day to day. I try to pay attention to my thoughts and attitudes, as well as my bodily functions, down to my heart rates, breathing and as gross as this is, what is going on in the bathroom. All of this is in an effort to find happiness and extinguish the anger and sadness that has existed for a long time. Looking back, I can say I started to develop anxiety and anger issues around the time I hit puberty. I can remember being so enraged and upset about something small in the backseat of my parents car that I was digging my fingernails into my legs so hard it left marks for a week. What I’ve realized in the work I’ve been doing on myself recently as an adult, is that what I’ve always written off as “a low tolerance to BS,” aka the clenching of my teeth, the urge to act out physically, the accelerated heart rate, the tightening of my chest at the slightest inconvenience, is not normal. It is untreated anxiety.
As an adult and dealing with grown-up situations, depression has become more of the problem. I started noticing it shows up in cycles, which I thought might be something hormonal that could maybe even be as simple of a fix as a change in my birth control. Basically for 2 weeks out of the month, I would be on cloud 9. I am unstoppable, I am beautiful and confident and love myself and those around me. My job is great, my friends and family are amazing and life can’t be better. Then, almost as if someone flipped a switch, the next 2 weeks of the month are dismal, gray and hopeless. I suck at my job, I hate my body, nothing I do is right and everyone hates me. I was honestly anticipating the cycle to start back up, but unfortunately right now I’ve been going on around 3.5 weeks of “the scaries” and the fact that I am actively trying to kick my brain out of it and it’s not working is terrifying me. It’s funny how depression can manifest itself in people. My trigger when I know a bad low is hitting, is that I don’t want to shower. For whatever reason, the task of cleaning and caring for myself is overwhelming. It takes every bit of willpower I can muster to get me to perform this menial task that I’ve done basically every day of my life. Other little things start to feel that way too, like taking out garbage or filling the dogs’ water dish. Eventually everything in life starts to feel overwhelming and all I can do is lay in bed. This toxic negative feeling in my brain that I can’t shake has now been nicknamed “the poison.” I can feel it coursing around inside me and I’ve gotta figure a way to get the poison out.
Unfortunately for me, I have VERY strong opinions on prescription medication and western medical practices in general, so seeing a doctor and treating “the poison” which is probably just a chemical imbalance in my brain, is totally out of the question for me. This is my own personal choice and based on my own experiences and I do not recommend anyone else follow my advice because as I’ve said many times before in this column, I am not a doctor. Not even close. It is just a very personal decision I have made to treat my depression as holistically and organically as possible, but eventually one day that might even have to change for me if I cannot manage it. In my mind, my treatment feels like trying to wade through mud. I try to slow down and take on these small everyday tasks step by step no matter how hard they may seem, knowing that while it may seem stupid to consider taking out the trash as a positive step, it is and will push me toward another one. I force myself to workout and hope the endorphins do their magic and sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t. I take inventory of what I’m putting in my body and try to clean up my diet. I’ve also come to the realization that alcohol is not my friend in all this and the older I get, the worse it affects my mental health. So we are currently on a little break from that. I try to actively remind myself of all the blessings in my life when I’m only able to focus on the negative and I try my best not to isolate and talk with only people I know who have my best interest at heart.
This is why it’s so important to be compassionate. Stop “keeping up” with people by scrolling through their Instagram. You have no idea what is going on in someone’s life. They might be posting selfies of their outfits and trips to the gym and at the same time be running the thought of killing themselves on repeat in their brain. Actually reach out and ask people how they’re doing. Tell them you are thinking of them and let them know they’re important. That means a lot to people who are dealing with rejection, isolation and sadness. As humans, myself included, no one wants to deal with other people’s problems. And I am not suggesting to become someone’s crutch or whipping post, simply ask yourself if you’re showing your loved ones that they mean something to you.
At the end of the day, we’re all struggling with something. NO ONE has the perfect life, regardless of what social media has led us to believe. The key to tackling mental health issues and getting rid of “the poison” is HOPE. Hope is so important. When you have that, you know that nothing ever lasts, not the good, not the bad. Life WILL make a turn as long as you don’t give up. If you just keep on trying and doing and working on yourself and striving for positivity, eventually IT WILL GET BETTER. I’m so grateful to everyone who reads this column for giving me an outlet to share my thoughts and I pray if you are feeling these negative emotions, that you get the help and keep the hope you need to find your happiness. It’s always a journey