Since the inception of Shellbell in the Moment, I have always promised I would be honest about my mental health. It’s one of the reasons I decided to open up and expose a very personal side of my life, as well as to end the stigma I have faced throughout a good portion of it, but I am afraid I haven’t been one hundred percent honest with you, and that is because I haven’t been honest with myself.
For months I have been writing about stringing good days together and how my sense of humor has come back, how I am writing again, etc., but yesterday I spiraled in one of the worst ways I have in a long time and I sat down and tried to understand why. Was it because I am finally feeling feelings in real time, and learning to process them correctly, instead of shoving them down? Was it because the anniversary of my mom’s passing is coming up? Was it because my cousin, who is like a baby sister, just lost the love of her life in a tragic accident? I thought these things were contributing to my imbalance, but as it turns out, these things were what made me realize one important truth about myself, that event I thought I had come out of, I am still in it.
So, I am just going to say it, because I think saying it out loud will help reel in my thoughts on this subject, and I am guessing there is someone out there who might read this and know that it is okay to feel this way. I hate mental illness. I seriously do. It’s part of my life and I hate it. I hate the stigma, I hate the way it makes me feel, I hate the fact that I feel like I am unlovable because I am single. Sometimes I end up stigmatizing myself and think “who would want me? I’m so broken.” It’s a horrible feeling to not love yourself. BUT, I also know this isn’t a healthy place for me to stay mentally, which is why I work so hard to stay out of it.
When I started my experiment last September, I just wanted to know what it was like to live with my depression in real time. I wanted to understand the intricate details that weave together this chaos that sometimes goes on in my head. I had jumped into the well of chaos, but forgot the exit plan and a rope to climb out of it, and in some ways it worked.
I understand myself better now, but as the dark thoughts crept into my head yesterday, I couldn’t help but flashback to two very low and dark moments in my life. I never actually attempted suicide, but I have come close. At sixteen I held a knife to my wrist, but I was saved by a phone call (the answering machine never picked up and the phone just kept ringing), and at twenty-nine I had a bottle of pills sitting in front of me, after a bunch of calls I made all went to voicemail (that’s no ones fault), but divine intervention saved me that day too.
I’m sharing this, because I don’t want someone to turn forty-six and wonder “why I am only understanding myself now?” I have never really given my age, because I was embarrassed that it has taken me this long to finally wrap my head around, well, my head.
I often tell my younger cousin, when we joke about not taking our own advice “don’t be me. one day you will be my age and say, ‘I should have listened to my own advice.'”. I am good at helping people. That’s not a pat on the back, that is just a reality. People often come to me to vent and talk things out, because I listen. What I am not good at is turning to other people for that same ear. I rationalize it by saying I am bothering them, which, since they are my friends, I know isn’t true.
The hardest part about this event I have been in, is finding the balance. I have slowly begun to learn self-love. I am working on body positivity and even at my age, I am hopeful that my perfectly imperfect (haha) prince charming will come along, but when I have a bad day, I feel like I took ten steps backwards instead of just standing still, handling it by going through the motions, and moving forward when it is done. I guess what I am saying is that when I spiral, I try to force myself into being happy, which isn’t dealing with the issue at all, but instead reverting to the way I used to be and shoving it down, because I want to appear in control.
Surprisingly I am already feeling better while writing this. It feels like a confession and I feel less like a hypocrite who is always talking about stringing good days together, and how I survived my eight month, then ten month, then one year event. I know now that I will truly start coming out of this year long lesson.
I call it a lesson, because I should have never done this without professional help. I always offer help, but I am bad at asking for it, and too be honest, there is nothing wrong with asking for help. We’re human, we should be helping one another.
I don’t know what tomorrow will bring, or how much longer I will be in this mess I got myself into, but going forward I have decided to not be so hard on myself. Several minutes ago I hated mental illness, now I accept the fact, truly, that this is a part of my life, but it doesn’t have to be my entire life. I will continue to advocate, I will continue to support those who need me and I will learn to ask for help.
The moral of this story is, having a dinged up mental health doesn’t mean you’re broken or unlovable, it means you are one of the strongest people on the planet dealing with a brain that rebels on the daily, while trying to live in a world of “normal” functioning people. I use that term loosely. mHm (haha!). And if you read this very carefully you will see how I denied me this experience of being honest with myself for a year and how in the process of writing this over the last thirty minutes I began to figure it out in real time and come to terms with something I hated when I first started writing this.
Hang in there. Don’t give up on yourself. Keep moving forward and believe in you, because I believe in you.