Today I jumped online to post a selfie for World Mental Health Day. It’s a decent snapshot, and it shows me on one of my good days. I’m camping on the beach in Oregon with my partner and my dog, enjoying the sunshine, taking hundreds of photos, and enjoying life.
But this picture doesn’t tell the whole story.
It doesn’t show the days I struggle to get out of bed, shower, and go to work. It doesn’t show the times my partner has to remind me to eat, or the times I lie awake late because I’m too anxious to sleep.
It doesn’t reflect all the times I’ve wondered if it would be easier to just end it all and not deal with the (apparently) pointless daily grind, which some days overwhelms me to the point I can barely function.
I don’t talk a lot about my struggles with depression and anxiety, and I don’t mention it today because I want pity, but because I think it’s important to acknowledge that mental health issues aren’t always visible. It’s easy to look at someone who appears happy and think that their struggles are “less” bad. Everyone struggles differently and no struggle is less valid. Some people are more open and others less so; some people will not want to publicly acknowledge a private battle, and that wish needs to be respected, while others need more public support. The point being: you don’t know what someone else is dealing with, so a) don’t assume, b) if you’re not sure, ask, and c) respect their feedback.
For those who also struggle, I wish I had some life-changing words of wisdom. They say “it gets better” but I don’t know if that’s true. What I do know is that there are ways to cope so the bad days are manageable and I know that they do in fact pass, if just for a bit. I know that there’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re hurting and seeking help, but there’s also nothing wrong with keeping it close and only opening up to one or two people (and if that one person is a professional and not a friend because you’re not ready to confide in them, that’s okay too.)
I know that there’s a lot of wonder left in the world to see, and it would be a shame to miss it.
I know I don’t have it all figured out, and that’s also okay. Self-care and mental health are a learning process, and figuring out what you need to be healthy can take time. Don’t hold yourself to someone else’s timetable or their depiction of “sick” or “healthy”. I also know that “healthy” doesn’t necessarily mean “whole” and that having bad days doesn’t mean you’ve failed, it just means you’re human and that you will get up again the next day and maybe have a better day, or maybe you’ll have a few bad ones in a row, but it doesn’t mean your fight is over. And conversely, having a stellar day doesn’t make you an imposter or invalid, it’s something to celebrate as part of your overall healing process. Sometimes, you might just be in the middle—not awful, but not great either—and that’s also perfectly normal and fine.
I’m still figuring out how to navigate my life. I can’t claim to be an expert or offer you failsafe solutions when I’m barely grasping them myself. Maybe this is something I’ll blog about more later on, and maybe a little more eloquently. For now I just hope you’ll take care of yourself, (slowly) start to heal, and don’t ever find fault with yourself for how you feel. You’re not weak, and you’re not alone. You’re just figuring yourself out, one day at a time, as are we all. Please don’t ever buy the myth that you’re somehow “less than”, because that’s a lie.
Much love ♥♥♥