original post date - october 26, 2018
#ImFine - Not Everything Can Be Prayed Away
Mental health is just as valid as physical health and it should be recognized with the same importance. In this post I talk about my struggles with mental health and the issues I have with the idea that they aren't as serious or that they can simply be prayed away.
*** Disclaimer - issa long one ***
It's been a minute. I was supposed to post a blog last weekend, but I just couldn't get my head together. I thought about taking a hiatus from blogging until I felt like I was back to "normal", or at least until I was feeling better, but I realized that's not what this blog is about. I didn't start this blog to only post when I was pissed about something or to just talk about my past interactions with guys. I wanted to help people and make sure somebody out there doesn't feel alone. There are too many of us out here trying to win at this thing called life for someone to feel completely and utterly by themselves.
World Mental Health Day was last Wednesday (October 10), and I've been going back and forth with myself about posting. I've been fairly withdrawn these last few weeks. I haven't been on social media as much, not really watching TV, my phone has mostly been on DND (thank you Apple), I've been in my room a lot, and I've just spending a lot of time alone. A few months ago it would've really bothered me to be spending so much time by myself. I would've felt like I was being punished for something if I was told I had to be alone this much. Honestly, I enjoy it now. Well most of the time. I wouldn’t say I've been recharging (which is what I'd like to be doing), but I don't feel as drained as I normally would, I guess. I'm trying to find a balance with spending time with me, while spending time with other people, but now I just want to be alone a lot more.
I don't know man. I told y'all a few posts ago that I wasn't feeling like myself and that has not changed. At this point, idkwtfgo. It's been a really confusing time. I've been feeling down about how I look. I haven't really been in the mood to try to make myself feel good about my appearance. Some days I just wake up, throw on a FashionNova active set (y'all tell them to sponsor me), and go. Some days I wait until the last possible minute to get out of bed and get ready for class. Sometimes on the weekend, I barely leave my room at all. I'm just feeling down in general. I have days that are better than others, but most days I feel like I'm being pushed by my to-do list instead of my own energy from my Source. I feel guilty when I try to rest and I feel like I'm not taking care of myself when I try to just plow through everything. I feel like I'm either stressed about everything or dgaf about anything. Things bother me more than usual. I feel like I'm always tired. Money has me stressed. Sometimes I'm not really hungry and other times I feel like I eat everything I can see. Most of the time I wake up feeling like the world is on top of me, but I still have a few glimmers of hope where I feel like I'm on top of the world. Balance is just not consistent in my life right now. At all.
I'm gonna be fully transparent. This isn't this first time I've felt some kind of slip in my mental health. This is just the first time that it's felt different. Now, I'm not a therapist or a licensed professional by any means, but I feel like I've dealt with undiagnosed depression and anxiety for as long as I've been in college, maybe even before. I'm not really sure which one came first or where on the spectrum I fall with either, but I definitely feel they are both present. Psychology is one of my majors and I've taken enough classes, done enough self-assessments, and read enough papers to know the signs. Even though I'm not as sad as I've been before, or even a few months ago, the other signs are still there. It just gets really hard to deal with because I also have Superwoman Syndrome. I inherited it from my mom, but it basically means that I feel the need to take care of things by myself and I have a lot of trouble asking for help. On top of that, I have a real issue with control and perfectionism, so I've been very critical of myself and constantly analyzing how I got here in the first place. That was harder a few months ago when I was factoring in the things other people would say about me in terms of me being perfect or having everything together, even though I'd tell them that wasn't the case at all, but it's still there to a degree. I get very self-conscious and there have been lots of times where I felt like I was falling apart even though I was doing my best to keep it together. For a very long time, I told myself that I didn’t have the right to be depressed or that I had too much going for me, and that I just didn't have time to be depressed. Same thing with anxiety. Needless to say, regardless of my efforts to still try to have a positive outlook, I end up kicking myself while I'm already down.
I know what you may be thinking.
You're not alone. You have friends. You have your family. You have people you can talk to. Just pray about it.
It's not that easy. I feel like if most of the people around me would have no idea what's actually going on with me unless they read this post, and this isn’t even doing it justice. I feel emotionally invisible to most of my friends. I feel like they either can't tell or don't care that I'm not myself or haven't felt like myself for a while, and it hurts. A lot. I don't feel seen by people that I'm around almost every day. Like I know everyone has their own stuff to deal with, but damn. I'm going through it right now. And the fact that I don’t know why makes it that much worse. There are times where I do feel the need to put on for the sake of me getting through the day, but I've stopped making myself do that all the time. It's too much work. I had to learn to let myself feel my feelings, and in doing that I feel exposed. I know for a fact there are days where I just don’t look like I'm doing well, but it's very rare that someone says anything outside of the usual surface-level conversations, and you can call me selfish for saying this, but I want someone to check on me too. I may not talk to all of my friends every day or as often as I like, and I admit I could get better, but I do make the efforts to check on my people, and sometimes I just want someone (outside of the usual 2 that do) to do the same for me. Like I said, I know everyone has their own stuff to deal with, but in the midst of my stuff I'm still trying. It just feels like I'm constantly going through the motions of being in college and single and young and all that while silently suffering, and people are oblivious to it or simply don't care.
Trying to talk to my mom about this stuff isn’t any easier. I love her with my whole heart, I really do. But when it comes to these types of things, sometimes it feels like she's not listening or just doesn’t want to accept it. There have been numerous times where I've told her that I felt like I was depressed and she just told me that I needed to rest, regroup, take time for myself, etc. While I recognize that may have been part of the problem, I still know the signs. I tell her when I'm stressed financially and she tells me I don’t have anything to worry about. There are a lot of things I'm trying to make happen and expenses I have coming up and just living in college in general, and the pot is so limited. Unlike some of my peers, I don't get money from my parents, and I don’t try to ask because I don't want to feel like a burden, but there are times I just need a financial boost and it seems like those messages are the ones that get ignored.
In all of these instances, whether I'm feeling down about life, or stressed about various things, she always tells me to give it to God in prayer. I love God and my faith is very important to me, but not everything can be prayed away. Trust me, I've tried and I've been dealing with some of the same things for YEARS. Going to church and listening to sermons help, but the last thing I need is to feel like the reason I'm going through what I'm going through is I don't pray enough or because my faith and relationship with God aren't strong enough. As a Black person, I know I'm not the only one who thinks this way. We see it all the time. There are some who don’t recognize mental illnesses are real illnesses, or say they're a white person thing or whatever. MENTAL ILLNESSES HAVE SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES JUST LIKE DIABETES OR HEART DISEASE OR DIFFERENT TYPES OF CANCERS. OKAY. They are just as real and just as important. There are so many people out there who are undiagnosed that are self-medicating and getting through life the best way they can because of stigmas around mental illnesses or because they don't believe they're real, or don’t know how people would treat them if they knew. Believe me, I was one of those people. I thought that if I told people how I really felt or what goes on inside my head that they'd think I was weak or making excuses for myself. I always knew depression and anxiety were real, I just felt like I didn’t have a right to complain or feel the way I felt about life when God blesses me the way He continues to do. I had to work on knowing the facts about these things and that sometimes they aren’t triggered by certain events. The same way physical conditions can be a result of some type of chemical or hormonal imbalance, so can mental health problems.
Like I said before, my faith is important to me. I am 100% a believer in the fact that prayer and fasting will change things in your life, but I also believe God wouldn’t have given us therapists, psychiatrists, counselors, etc. if we weren't supposed to use them. Now I've been to therapy before, but the circumstances weren't related to my mental health. I might eventually get into that story at another time, but the gist of it is, I HATED IT. It was my parents' idea, it felt like a punishment, I didn’t understand how talking to some white woman once a week was going to help me, and I was very, VERY ashamed. It just wasn't a pleasant experience for me. Don’t get me wrong, the therapist was a nice woman, I just didn’t feel like the experience was a good one for me. It turned me off to the idea of therapy completely, which just kicked my Superwoman Syndrome into high gear. My attitude toward therapy has changed, and honestly I wouldn’t mind going to see a therapist once a while or regularly when I'm in med school. Personally, I'd want my therapist to be a black woman, but sometimes I feel like talking to a professional could help, whether that meant an official diagnosis, getting on some type of medication, or something else. Other times I don't wanna talk to anyone at all and I just want to handle it myself. I go back and forth all the time. Part of it is because of fear, part of it is because I don’t want to feel how I did before, part of it is because these things come and go and I'm just used to it by now, so I don't know if seeing someone would change it.
I know this has been a long post, but I just had to get some things out of my head. I'll say it again, I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL. I'm just someone speaking from her own experiences hoping that someone out there doesn't feel alone in theirs. I'm not really sure when my next post will be. I'm gonna do my best to get back on schedule, but I don't wanna make any promises. I just want you to be encouraged and know that as long as you're giving life your best, that's all that matters. I'm telling myself the same thing. Everyday. I'm working on trusting my process and doing my best to build myself up, and I encourage you to do the same.
Live life. Be great. Flourish.