Mental Health Awareness

A couple weeks ago, I found an article titled “50 Questions to Ask a Girl if You Want To Know Who She Really Is.” I decided that:

  1. I really need to get back to free writing on my blog to give me a minute in my life to take a break
  2. These questions would serve as perfect topics for me to write on

To start, I will begin answering these questions by answering the first two on the list, because they go hand in hand in my life. And what better day to start than on World Mental Health Awareness Day.

What’s one thing that’s happened to you that has made you a stronger person?

What’s one thing that’s happened to you in your life that made you feel weak? 

The simple answer to both of these questions is depression. 

I struggled with depression my freshman year of college. It took me a while to even admit the thought of having depression. It was something that tore me down to some of the scariest and darkest time, but it was also something that made me so much stronger in the meantime. It’s funny how depression can really show you how tough you’re not at the time, but by the end, you’re stronger than you ever could’ve imagined.

Freshman year for me was rough, to say the least. I was exhausted from trying to be stronger than I felt. I would just tell myself everything was okay, and there was no way I was depressed. Depressed meant something was wrong with me, that I had a fault in my person. I just kept chugging along, letting everything build up inside of me. Freshman year is all about building your own routine on your own time and learning how to independently manage your life without your parents. Sounds great, right? But it’s not always rainbows and butterflies. I found out that I wasn’t very structured. I was trying to balance school, sports, social life, love life and physical and mental health. However, if not prioritized well, some things are bound to be pushed to the side. Just so happens that my health was that one thing. I never thought of stopping though, I just kept pushing forward. But mom wasn’t there to ask me what’s wrong or to give me some DayQuil and Chicken Noodle Soup. I’d start becoming sad for no reason at all. Or I’d lash out at people for no reason. I felt angry and sad most of the time.

It really hit me when I started noticing my weight gain. So cliche for a freshman, right?  The freshman 15… plus 10 more pounds after that. I came into college in good shape, but on the thinner side. I soon noticed weight gain, stretch marks all over my legs. I didn’t care to think that it was pretty much all muscle I was putting on. The truth is, is that I didn’t want to be over 140 lbs because people considered that fat, and I was NOT FAT (disclaimer: 140 is not fat at all, nor do I think so). I came in at 130 and by November I was 155. I began to panic. I would not eat for a while. Then I would have a mental breakdown and eat a whole box of oreos and then hate myself even more. I began to wholeheartedly hate myself. The saying “You can’t love others fully until you truly love yourself” is completely true. I began to become a witch to those around me. I’d go home and mom would make her huge dinners and I found it insulting that she wanted me to eat that much because didn’t she see that I’m already fat???! The first Thanksgiving home from college, one relative made a comment along the lines of “Wow, they don’t have a shortage of food down there huh?” That was the point I was over the edge. I broke down in front of my whole family, who all just stared at me like I was nuts since they didn’t hear the comment. After that, I started to notice I was pushing people away because I was too self conscious about my body image. I would like to say body image didn’t ever mean a lot to me, but it did. Now, throughout this time I have realized that body image means virtually nothing compared to the whole picture of my life. I choose to live a fit lifestyle because that is what I enjoy, but I realize that I look fine. Body image isn’t everything, but my depressed mind told me otherwise.

I would cry myself to sleep at night because I began to hate not only certain aspects of my life, but a lot more portions of my life. The worst thing about it? I recognized that I was on a fast path towards darkness but I had no idea how to stop it. I recognized that I was not fat like I saw myself in the mirror as. I recognized that I was not the person I usually was, I didn’t think the same, I didn’t act the same, I didn’t want to do things that I usually did. I began to think, whatever, its just all in your head, get over it, mind over matter. I would isolate myself from the world, then became upset because I would be lonely. Seriously, I am a firm believer of mind over matter, but in some cases, especially mental health, THAT IS NOT THE CASE. It was probably one of the hardest things for me to finally let go, and admit that I had a mental problem. I knew something wasn’t right, but again, I didn’t want people to think there was something wrong with me. I didn’t want to bother people with me opening up about it. I didn’t want to burden them with my sadness or feeling of helplessness. I remember thinking of how to tell my parents, the closest people to me, my biggest supporters. I was absolutely terrified because I was afraid that they would just say it was all in my head. Might I add, when people say its just all in your head, it makes you feel insane. Because you’ve battled with yourself telling the same thing, but finally decide to admit to the illness. They were there to support me, just as they had been all my life. But I had a breakdown in front of them, admitting everything from my dark thoughts to my self loathing. I remember begging them to make it stop, for me to just be normal again. How did I even get away from normal?! I didn’t want to be the person I was right there, but I had no idea how I even lost myself in the first place. I think I scared the crap out of them, really. They got me to see a counselor and really helped me stay positive and have a positive outlook on life. They did what they always have, showed me love and support. I couldn’t ask for anything else because they were some of the biggest help through this mess. It doesn’t come to a screeching stop, part of me wishes it did. But part of me knows it wouldn’t have taught me what it did over that time. I learned to train myself to see the light in things, even if it meant looking straight past the darkness.

I want to stress this to everyone, your mental health should be a huge priority. It is so important. It’s only a bad day, not a bad life. It is gradual, you don’t see it coming. It sneaks up on you and then all of a sudden you feel like your drowning. To those who deal with depression or any other mental illness; seek help, accept the love and support of those around you, and stay strong. Don’t ever doubt in the dark what God has shown you in the light. And to those who are the ones who don’t deal with it or may have friends or family that deal with mental illnesses, believe them when they say they need help. Its not just in their head. It is a real, terrifying place to be and it only makes it worse when people say its in your head. Spread love to them, show them a positive outlook on life. Mental illness is a serious thing, but it is also very possible to overcome it. It taught me how to have a better outlook on life, and how to prioritize. Dealing with depression has taken me on a dark path I wish upon no one, but it has also shown me how strong I can truly be. Remember, there are people here to help you. They are willing to pick you up and stand you back up on your feet. Only if you let them ♡

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you. He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid, do not be discouraged.” 

Deuteronomy 31:8 

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