May is #MentalHealth Awareness Month.
“What we always need to keep in mind about others is that not all stories are told and not all scars are visible. And for ourselves, we need to know it’s ok not to be ok. Let’s emotions out, the worse thing we can do is keep them hidden. I have learned this lesson after hiding my battles with #Anxiety and #Depression.” -Charisse Hogan
I began battling anxiety, self acceptance issues, and panic attacks as young as 9 years old due to bullying. These issues went on through most of my school years. After high school I was able to slowly recover from these issues and began seeing life as a gift, something so beautiful. I openly spoke in YouTube videos and Facebook posts about all my childhood struggles and how I was able to overcome in hope it will help others. I began to gain quite the following on social media. People began labeling me as strong, an inspiration, someone who is always so happy. But being always seen as someone strong and someone that anyone could run to when they needed help, caused me to struggle deeply with certain situations in my young adulthood. It lead me to forget it was ok not to be ok myself. Here is a part of my story I was able to hide so well from so many.
When I was 15 years old my family moved to Alabama and I lived there for 8 years. Since day 1 of living there I struggled with the feeling of any belonging there. In high school there I struggled with being accepted by my classmates due to my physical disabilities. In my young adulthood I struggled being invited and included in different things due to personal choices I made for my own health, such as making the choice to not drink when I turned 21.
After high school I learned to accept what my life was like and make the best out of it in Alabama, but that feeling of not belonging was always there. Then after 6 years of living in Alabama my life was beginning to go so incredibly amazing and I finally began feeling a small sense of belonging. So many new big opportunities were coming up, I was meeting new people that actually seemed to like spending time with me. and so many things were making me feel so happy! This went on for months. I then took a trip back to Colorado to visit my grandma who was battling #Cancer at the time. It was extremely hard for my whole family to watch my grandma go through this. When it was time for me to return back to Alabama it was difficult to leave my grandma. What helped a little was this was the first time I felt I was returning back “home” to something in Alabama. I was wrong.
Suddenly it seemed like all these things that were finally making me feel happy in Alabama were taken away, gone, out of my control. People I let into my heart began to hurt me, and before this I thought I was being careful with who I let in. Things began happening in my life offline that I never opened up about on any social media. My grandma was dying from cancer. I felt I lost relationships with people I once felt so close to. My heart was breaking, I felt I couldn’t reached out to anyone because I was the person everyone went to for help. On social media I continued to post like everything was the same, like everything was ok. I wasn’t ok.
What I was able to hide so well from others, from social media, was my battle with on going depression episodes that lasted for almost two years. I was so good at battling these episodes silently. At times I had to force myself to eat and I hardly got any sleep. My mind was so mean to me. At times I tried to put signs out that I wasn’t well but many didn’t pick up on them. Sometimes I would message long distance friends to ask how they were doing, I wanted them to ask me the same question. I made posts on Facebook but then quickly deleted them so others didn’t see me as weak. Because everyone always view me as strong.
A few times I couldn’t hold it in any longer, I would final break down and cry. Some of those who saw me upset reacted so negatively, or reply things like “You are ok”, “You don’t have a reason to cry”, “Stop it,” “Get over it”, “You are supposed to be strong”, “You life seems to be better than mine”, “you are being ridiculous.” It made me feel like I didn’t have the right to not feel ok. So I began keeping everything that hurt me to myself. Some months I went on day after day as if I was just following some movie script. I seemed ok but I wasn’t ok.
Battling this on my own, I eventually built a wall. I built this wall around my heart so no one or nothing could hurt me again. I grew numb, I thought that feeling nothing at all was better than feeling any amount of love with all that hurt. Building that wall was my biggest regret because I believed I was protecting myself but in reality I was trapping myself inside.
God had helped me get through these hidden struggles once again and years after battling my mental health silently from everyone else I was able to, luckily, break down this wall.
I’m a lot better now. Great things are now happening in my life that I once was so afraid would never happen. However, somedays I still don’t feel 100%, but I now know it’s ok not to be ok.
My quote is for all of you; -“What we always need to keep in mind about others is that not all stories are told and not all scars are visible.”- We may think we know everything about someone but we can never know every single struggle someone may be facing. We can not base someone’s life off of what we see or what we read. Not everything is spoken about, not everything is posted about. Someone’s life may seem perfect or fabulous to us, but is it really?
-“And for ourselves, we need to know it’s ok not to be ok. Let’s emotions out, the worse thing we can do is keep them hidden.”- No matter who you are, what kind of job you have, if you are rich or poor, if you are popular or have no friends at all… you have the right to feel the way you feel. I’m telling you, it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok to let your emotions out. You don’t always have to be some superhero, we are all human.
Please make sure someone knows how you are really feeling. Please check in on people. If someone needs to talk, please don’t speak back right away, first just listen. Mental health shouldn’t be something we feel the need to hide or be ashame of. Take care of YOU. You are important too.