Allow me to be candid with you all for a moment.
Awhile back, I went on hiatus and took a break from the blogging world because I realized that I felt a lack of fulfillment and satisfaction in my posts.
I focused on the expectations of my readers, rather than concentrating on my passions.
Eventually I revisited the idea of blogging, with the intent to let go of any anticipation. I decided that I would solely begin DatuKnows in order to share my thoughts, or whatever it is my heart desires at the moment.
I have a strong interest in writing and promoting positive dialogue. So let’s look at this blog as some sort of conversation.
Today’s topic: Mental Health + Self-Care
I once heard someone say, “Happiness is a choice.” And in response to that statement, I say, “BULLSHIT!”
Because if happiness was a choice, I would be fucking happy right about now.
But I’m not.
Let me digress…
I have been diagnosed with major chronic depression since I was in middle school. Recently (and when I say recently, I mean a little over five years), my brain decided to throw me a curve ball, and added anxiety into the mix of chemical imbalances.
There, I said it. The cat is officially out of the bag.
Although I may have lightweight mentioned it in my previous Dear Datu blog post, I have never blatantly professed to the world that I have certain mental health issues. Frankly, it’s not something you go around announcing to each and every person you meet; however, I’m at a point in my life where I believe that it’s such an imperative issue that must be addressed.
Yes, we all know how much society has stigmatized mental illness. It’s ingrained in many people to disguise or dismiss emotional instability – myself included. I struggled with this denial for most of my life, lacking the support or trust in help that was provided (whether it be professionally or personally).
The reason being: FEAR.
“Fear of what?” – You may wonder.
Judgement, trust, lack of understanding, manipulation, teasing and torment, sense of weakness – all which I have dealt with before in the past. These are just a few of the concerns I face whenever I consider opening up about my own experiences with mental health.
To be honest, I’m fucking afraid of posting this to the public. I’m writing this because it’s therapeutic (and in a sense – necessary), yet I’m uneasy about how my words my be interpreted.
How can one explain mental illness? Each person and their occurrences are not alike.
For me, it’s like struggling to stay afloat. Like drowning in my own consuming thoughts, and barely reaching surface only for a few seconds to catch my breath – just to do it all over again. Dealing with depression and anxiety is like treading dangerous waters, yet it is something I have to deal with every day of my life.
Let me explain how random and erratic the forms of these aforementioned illnesses may take.
Each symptom can be triggered by anything and everything all at the same time. Confusing? Of course it is. It’s a complex matter.
For example, I recently got upset with my husband about purchasing tickets to an art exhibit. As I watched each date begin to sell out every time I pressed the “refresh” button, my mind began to panic. I found it difficult to breathe. I started to stress out. Palms sweaty, heart racing, I lashed out.
I yelled at the innocent bystander: my husband.
I blamed him for my instability and lack of control. I then felt a sudden overwhelming wave of guilt, but had no way of expressing my thoughts. One minute I was screaming, throwing things around, the next minute I was crying.
All the while, my toddler is watching or attempting to ignore the situation.
Then the depression takes over. I’m upset with myself because I simply cannot contain my emotions. I’m dysfunctional, incoherent, and numb to my surroundings, yet at the same time I’m trying with every ounce of my body to remain sane within my own reality.
All because of some damn art exhibit tickets!
How did this situation end? My husband took our dog for a walk along with our son. I took this moment as an opportunity to escape. Escape from what? I have no idea.
I honestly began to think that their lives were better without me in it. They didn’t need to be bogged down or burdened with all this madness. I truly believed that if I wasn’t around, their lives would be less stressful.
I drove all over Eastside, taking deep breaths as I tightly clutched the wheel. I did this for about 30 minutes before I stopped and parked in front of a liquor store. It was then and there when I made the conscious decision to call the 24-hour crisis hotline.
This was a first for me.
I spoke with a counselor, and to be frank, I do not remember his name. But this stranger helped me at a time when I felt at my lowest. He let me cry, listened to what exactly I was feeling at the moment, and gave me words of encouragement.
“Today is just another bad day. We all have bad days, but you will get through this.”
And in the end I did, but not without my own reservations and regrets. Regardless of it all, I endured and made it through another day. It seems simple, but in my case, it’s not.
Sometimes it’s these small victories that provide the biggest impact in ones life. It’s the little step-by-step progression that makes life easier to tolerate. What may seem minuscule to others may be the one thing that helps another person make it at the end of the day.
For example, I had to force myself to get out of bed today. I managed to finally take a shower after God knows how many days of going without one. I coaxed myself into eating a small meal, because I tend to forget to eat or drink until I begin to feel faint. I brushed my hair for the first time in 10 days. It’s only 4:20 PM, and I’m wondering how the hell will I make it through the rest of the afternoon. I’m currently mentally preparing myself to pick up my son from preschool, because the last thing I want to represent is some unfit or unstable mother.
Mental illness is an every day battle. Sometimes I win, other times I raise the white flag. Sometimes I do a great job in keeping up a facade, other times I’m not so successful.
Many people aren’t aware that I go through this, but it’s something I’m beginning to feel more comfortable with vocalizing. Perhaps I’m tired of going through this alone, and this is my way of seeking help. Or possibly this post will reach someone else who is pursuing comfort and needs to know that they are not alone – if so, I’m here for you.
Powerful words and its important to share them with others. My husband took his own life three years ago and we had no idea of his daily struggles. If he only knew that many people feel the same way. I’m not a professional but you can always reach out to me anytime you need to. I will private message you my cell. Much Aloha
Thanks Tracy for your kind words. It is very helpful & I really appreciate it. I remember finding out about his passing & was overwhelmed with so much sadness. I also remembered feeling that there were many times when I considered taking the same path. It all starts with support & I’m thankful for the few very important people who have guided me throughout my ordeals. Once again, I appreciate you reaching out to me. ❤️
I came across this quote awhile back and I saved it and I usually dont save quotes but I wanted to share it with you..
“Ironicaly enough, when you make peace with the fact that the purpose of life is NOT happiness, but rather experience and growth, happiness becomes a natural byproduct. When you are not seeking it as the objective, it will find its way to you.”
Believe it or not I’m not the happiest person and I like this quote because it reminds me that it is really truly ok to not be happy all the time. It’s probably healthier to be able to feel all different kinds of emotions and learn how to deal and navigate thru them rather than just being happy all the time.
Thank you for having the strength to share your experiences. I know it can feel like a really lonely battle sometimes but you’re never alone. I’m always here for you sis! ❤️
Hey sis! Thank you for reaching out to me. After reading that quote, I completely understand why you saved it. It really resonates with me as well. I see how happiness shouldn’t be the entire point in life since it is really about experience and growth. I guess what is difficult for me is that I’ve had so very few moments of complete happiness, it seems like a difficult concept for me to truly wrap my head around. But I know that it’s because of my mental illnesses, and it’s something I have accepted. I just have to maintain and maneuver through all of it. I appreciate your kind words, and I’m grateful to have you in my life.
I have battled with mental illness since I was 22-panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, agoraphobia. I quit driving for a year and mapped out each outing, looking for exits, Xanax In my purse, inhaler( I don’t even has asthma), crazy thoughts of passing out, couldn’t date, drunken nights where I wanted to take my own life all the while trying to hide it all. I’m here for you, don’t hide, I get it and here for support.
Thank you for your comment. I appreciate you being open with your own issues. I’m glad we were able to text each other & reconnect. I’ve said it before & I will say it again, I’m here for you!
Such a powerful read. You articulate mental illness so well. My heart was breaking for you when I read through this, but it also reminds me that I am not alone – none of us are alone. Although mental illness has sort of been a part of my life since I was very young (my Dad is/has been battling mental illness for the majority of my life), yet, it’s very different when it’s you. It’s very difficult to understand it until you’re living it yourself. I was in 7th or 8th grade when I started seeing a psychiatrist biweekly From there I was diagnosed with BPD and Depression. Over recent years, I’ve thrown anxiety, chronic stress, and OCD into the mix.
Like you mentioned, everyone kind of experiences mental illness differently. Everyone I’ve known has dealt with it in completely different ways. Most of my triggers are related to past traumas and can be sorta avoided, not always, but I can be strategic about it. But, I also have bad days, weeks, and even months, where I do have such a difficult time taking care of some of my most basic needs like hygiene, eating, and sleeping. For me, my biggest obstacle has been how much it has weakened my immune system — I get sick A LOT. However, that isn’t the case for everyone.
BTW — I think you should write whatever it is you want, because that’s the stuff you will write well, you know? A friend of mine used to tell me, “Just write what you want to write about, there is always someone looking to read that material.” And, it”s true. There is always going to be someone with that same interest searching tags in WordPress…because that is literally what I do. Lol.
Jocelyn!! I apologize for the late reply. I took a break from WordPress and disabled all of my notifications because…what do you know…I was going through a mental crisis. The past few months have been a struggle, and I’m still coping, but that’s all we can do, right? This comment is just what I needed to hear (read). I’ve been treading difficult waters recently, and your words really help me and my current situation. And now, I’m back!
We are not alone. Although, we feel like we’re going through this alone and that no one truly understands what we’re feeling (do we even understand ourselves?); we truly are not alone. Just like you, and others who have reached out to me in private since this post, are all going through it. I just recently made the decision to be more vocal about it, and something that I do not regret. I’m glad that you speak about your own experiences with mental health issues. I’m always here for you if you need anything.
Also, thank you for affirming my choice to write whatever the heck I want to write about. Originally, I thought I had to come up with a theme and cater to what I thought my readers expected. I was not passionate about it, and eventually I lost interest. After taking a break, I decided that I was going to write about whatever I want, and in the style that I’m comfortable with. I look to this blog as a place of solace, rather than realm of obligation. Just switching that mindset has become so freeing as a writer and/or creative. There are no limits.
Keep up your work! Everything you write has been relatable and such an inspiration.
Not a problem at all! I;m happy to hear you’re back and at it, and I can’t wait to read what you have coming next! ❤