What Happened When I Started Writing About My Mental Illnesses
I know for some, reading about my struggles with anxiety and depression may have seemed to come out of nowhere. I did a pretty decent job of hiding my condition for many years. I wanted to seem like I had everything figured out, and the truth is, a lot of the time I’ve managed to maintain a good life balance. Only my closest friends and family knew the moments when I’ve fallen apart, searched desperately for stable ground, and at times, feared life.
I’ve done my best to obtain the help I needed to bounce back when I have bouts of depression or anxiety. However, after having my daughter I found my anxiety became heightened, probably due to a great many factors: The overwhelming responsibility of caring for a little, defenseless life, who I love more than anything else in the whole world. The pressure to keep my home in order and comfortable for my husband, who works so hard for our family. The fact that I had trouble facing the death of one of my parents mid-pregnancy.
Such intense life changes can magnify one’s struggles, as it did for me. When my first article about my struggle with anxiety went live, I can’t accurately express how touched I was by the overwhelming support I received from my friends. Some even stepped forward, feeling comfortable enough to admit to their own struggles, many of whom I never would have guessed fight the same battle. This made me realize how important it is to not hide one’s experiences and troubles. To do so, can make one feel as though you are facing them all alone.
There are others out there who feel the same and who’ve experienced the same things, yet are unable to talk about them. I must admit I was a little afraid when I submitted my first piece about anxiety, fearing people would call me “crazy,” question my stability as a mother and my ability to be a good wife. It’s natural to believe people will not understand, and so liberating to discover that low and behold, there are many who do. Instead of calling me sick, they called me brave and that meant the world to me.
To admit to one’s flaws is a scary experience and to share them with the world is no less than terrifying. You aren’t simply telling a story. You are exposing a delicate piece of yourself, lifting the curtain for all to see and inviting in both criticism as well as praise.
Even more so, we are exposing a part of our family to the world, and this is a big responsibility. I feared embarrassing my mother, my brother and especially my husband by sharing my story. I didn’t want people to look at my husband and pity him for having a wife who struggles with a mental illness because my illness isn’t who I am as a whole.
Being the incredible guy he is, my husband proudly shared my story and declared how brave he believed his wife to be. This touched me more than I can put into words. Knowing he had my back, that he felt pride instead of embarrassment for what I’d written and put it out there in the world was an incredible moment. This is the very embodiment of what real love is.
It is endless support, understanding, empathy and partnership that make the strongest, most beautiful of relationships. The fact that he sees me and loves me despite my struggles, my low moments that come and go, makes me realize how lucky I am. I am determined to never do anything to let it go.
The support of my friends and family gave me the strength to continue writing about my longtime fight with depression and anxiety. They have only let me see more clearly that there is nothing to be ashamed of. It is not only liberating to finally admit to the feelings I’ve had and the painful moments I’ve faced, but it is also a relief finding no matter how much it may feel like it, I am not alone. Knowing that sharing my stories may help others find a voice as well is the most rewarding. The more we all try to share, understand and relate to one another, the more we can face our difficulties as an army. There is no need to face every battle alone.
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