I know that I disappeared for awhile with out explanation, during the holidays I often have difficulty with my mental health and I end up having to scale back things in my life in order to keep from completely falling apart. Follow that up with a global pandemic and… well… my mental health break ended up being a little longer than I anticipated. I am now making the attempt to get back in to posting on my blog because it is something that I enjoy doing even if I have to periodically step away to get my head screwed on straight! Since my return to blogging has coincided with Mental Health Awareness Month I decided that I would do a blog post about my own experience with mental illness.
I wasn’t officially diagnosed until my early twenties but anxiety and depression became a constant companion for me when I hit puberty, just at the time I didn’t know what it was, let’s just say that my teenage years were quite the roller coaster ride, for me, and for everyone around me! Even after I was diagnosed I struggled, trying to find the right treatment for someones mental illness can be a very lengthy and difficult process. One of the things that I have learned over the years is that even when two people have the same mental illness their experiences with it will be as unique as a finger print, even within the same person one episode can look very different than the next, sometimes so different that we don’t always recognize it for what it is. You throw in the stigma surrounding mental illness and peoples unwillingness to talk about it and it can make finding the right combination of therapy and medication kind of like looking for a needle in a haystack!
One of the things that I struggled with the most, and still do is finding a balance. Unlike some medical conditions where the goal is to completely eradicate the condition, dealing with anxiety and depression is different because sadness and anxiousness are normal human experiences and they can serve a purpose, anxiety can be our minds way of warning us about impending possible danger and sadness is a way of expressing grief and conveying that something isn’t right. When we try to remove anxiety and sadness from ourselves completely we often end up the opposite of over emotional which is numbness and I’ve spent some time there and I can tell you that it’s a far scarier place to be.
I’ve used many different tools to help control my mental illness over time, as humans we grow and change and so too does mental illness meaning that treatments have to as well, what worked in my twenties may not be the right fit anymore in my forties. Throughout my life I’ve tried a number of things, meditation, mindfulness, cognitive therapy and a number of different medications and as I have changed my tools have had to change with me, right now my current medication and art have helped immensely. Another tool that I have developed is learning to know when I’ve reached my limits and recognizing when I need to pull back and take a break from things so I don’t end up in a depression and anxiety free fall.
I have come to terms with the fact that depression and anxiety will be constant companions for me on my journey through life and that treatment isn’t about kicking them out of the car so much as just making sure they don’t have the opportunity to drive, and I know that there will more than likely be more mental health breaks in my future, despite that, as I dust off the cobwebs from my blog and try to get back in to posting about my time in Second Life, I just plan on taking it one day at a time.