- This post talks about mental health topics that may include depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and other potentially triggering topics.
- This post talks about mental health experiences that are my lived experiences. I do not speak for anyone else.
- I am not a medical professional in any capacity.
Mental Health Musings
January 25, 2022
Before I begin my ramblings, please read the content warnings for this post.
I have a variety of mental health issues that I deal with, or have in the past. I have decided to share these experiences in an effort to help end the stigma folks with mental health deal with.
I began therapy in some form as far back as elementary school, and have been fairly consistently in therapy since. Yes, there have been a few periods of time where insurance or actual mental health struggled prevented me from seeking adequate mental health care – but overall, I’ve been in therapy for nearing 40 years.
Currently I struggle with moderate to severe generalized anxiety, moderate to severe chronic depression, agoraphobia that was in remission pre-pandemic but is sneaking back in, and PTSD. In addition to mental health issues, I have Attention Deficit Disorder and chronic physical health issues.
I am on disability due to my mental health struggles and I used to be very ashamed of that. People hear a person is on disability and they assume it’s physical. They hear that it’s for “depression” and “anxiety” and dismiss how debilitating it can be.
Especially with multiple co-morbities.
Many people suffering chronic conditions – whether mental, physical, emotional – often develop a pattern of masking symptoms and making excuses. At least, this is what I tend to do. For example, instead of telling a friend that I have to cancel plans because I can’t convince myself to go out the door – I usually create a more “acceptable” excuse.
A sick child. A physical ailment myself. It’s a pattern that I work on to break.
I spent many years feeling guilty for all sorts of things. For not being able to “do much around the house.” Or for not being able to go somewhere new without someone I trust.
Or for “being lazy.” That, too, is something I’m working on.
There should be no more shame
There should be no more shame in saying “I have high anxiety right now and need to cancel” than there is in saying “I have the flu and need to cancel.” Between the mental health, physical health, and ADD – it’s hard to remember to be kind to myself. To not compare myself to others.
How successful they are. How this program worked for them. How that very good idea worked for them but for you was a disaster.
It’s a rabbit hole that is all too easy to fall into – and by no means have I conquered that habit completely. It’s a long, long process.
But for today – for this moment – I don’t feel ashamed. I can (sometimes) look at things that I *have* accomplished despite everything. Today I can say that I may feel weak, but I know I am strong.
Some days success and productivity just has to look different from how I’m programmed to view it. Some days productivity is taking a shower and getting dressed. Other days it might be tackling a household chore.
And still other days success may be marked merely by breathing and surviving the day. And that’s okay. Those days are successes, too.
I’m working on ways to remind myself of all that more often, and on ways to calm myself when I worry about my lack of capabilities. I’ll let you know in the future how that goes.
Here’s a pro-tip – if you have a friend brave enough to tell you they can’t do something they planned with you because of their mental health struggle – please don’t attempt to tell them all the reasons they will be fine, unless your friend asks for that.
A better option would be to say – hey, thank you for being real with me – would you like to do something else or is being alone best right now? Or anything to let your friend know that you see them, you value them, and that they aren’t a burden.
We’ll talk more about that in a future blog, I’m sure.