This is a trigger warning. Please note this blog post may contain triggers.
Last week I wrote in an Instagram post about my anxiety attacks. Turns out a lot of us are struggling. For me, my anxiety attacks aren’t really a symptom of anxiety – but rather an extension of my depression.
I spent a lot of last year in a really dark place. And strangely, it was during a time when my Instagram started to gain a following. I mostly started the blog and Instagram to keep myself busy and to document random eco things because I knew I was entering a different phase in my life.
One thing I haven’t been completely honest about is, is my work. I didn’t work a lot last year and had a lot of time off to focus on getting over my depression. It was a major clinical episode and I was almost involuntarily hospitalised on a couple of occasions.
Apart of me is still incredibly a shamed. I grew up in a family that did not believe in mental health. Not to generalise on ethnicity groups, but mental health is not commonly addressed in Asian cultures and my family, well, they fall under this stereotype.
So, I’m still incredibly reserved when it comes to what I’ve gone through and in my real life (not my online life), I don’t talk about it and only a handful of people know what I’ve gone through.
But, now? Well, now I’m posting this on the Internet and “exposing” myself. I ain’t streaking naked across a field during an event, but I still feel bare writing this. Gosh, I haven’t even shaved my legs yet, so you might see more than you want to.
Why I writing this?
I had a lot of people message me, regarding what they are going through and their struggles. And honestly, it was heartbreaking to see so many other people in pain. I can’t give any advice on how to deal with it. I think even highly paid professionals have a hard enough time doing that, let alone someone who has no professional medical experience like myself. All I can say is that you are not alone. Even when you can’t see the light or the people around you, and even when you’re heaving from the pain – you’re not alone. People do love you. People do care. People do not want to you to go away. You are not a burden. You are loved.
It’s hard to believe. And even now, you probably don’t believe me. But it really is the truth.
What has my mental health been like for me?
I’m still recovering, but I’m significantly better than I was last year. I hid my mental illness for quite some time before I realised I couldn’t hide it anymore and needed help. That’s one thing people often believe. If you’re depressed you will look like a depressed person. But sometimes, you just become so skilled at hiding and suppressing your emotions that you can often “forget” that there’s this dark passenger hanging around. Okay, you don’t forget, but you get really good at ignoring it. If anything, people thought I was doing awesome. I was rocking it at work. I was earning good money. I had just gone on my huge ass European holiday. But shit, I just felt like absolute shit.
Somedays, I couldn’t shake the feeling of dread. Other days, I would wake up crying and go to bed crying. And then there were the triggers. If someone said something slightly critical of me, I would hurt myself. I would claw at my skin or pull out my hair. I would not eat or make myself vomit. I did those things to stop me from “feeling” whatever I was feeling. I only ever cut myself a couple of times, mostly, because I felt that if I did and had gone into a routine of cutting myself that somehow this would make the Doctors right – I was in a deep depression. I refused to believe this for so long. I always thought “I’m not as bad as they think I am.” Or “people are going through a lot worst than me.” Or “I’m clearly overreacting and I need to harden up.” Or “Depression is a first world problem.”
But lets not ignore it. Pain is pain. No matter your financial status.
What did I feel?
I felt not good enough. I felt like a waste of space. I felt as if the things that brought me joy, well, they just seemed pointless. I stopped reading. I stopped writing fiction. Food was (and is) a huge source of enjoyment for me, but during those really dark times, I saw food as the enemy. I didn’t eat. And when I did I would go onto my knees and force myself to vomit. I wouldn’t go so far as to say, I had an eating disorder although from the outside it may seem like that. It was more of a way to hurt myself, to punish myself or sometimes, I would even use it as a way to stop feeling whatever I was feeling. Sometimes, it was even a way to feel something. Anything. It’s strange being stuck in what only seems as pain and numbness, and nothing in between.
Why am I writing all of this?
Stigma is erased by openly talking about it. Or in this case writing about it. I still feel a shamed of what I have and what I have gone through, and trust me, if you were ever to see me face to face, I WOULD NOT want to talk about it this in such an open manner. But there is something therapeutic about writing about it. And in time, maybe, it is something I can openly talk about, face to face. Maybe, one day, I won’t be so a shamed of my illness. And truth is, the more open I am about it, the less I feel embarrassed by the pain.
I just want to say you’re not alone. We’re not alone in this. Your sparks aren’t starved of air.