How My Mental Health Has Empowered Me

I struggle with Depression and Anxiety.
Having both of those mental illnesses is a challenge, you're battling with your mind everyday - some days are good and some are bad. They affect people in different ways. I've dealt with depression since i was young.

 We all know empowerment comes from within. If it wasn't for my tough past, the challenges I had to overcome, and the tools I developed to battle through my depression and anxiety I would not be the super empowered woman I am today.

And if it wasn't for Demi Lovato being a mental health advocate, talking about her mental health struggles, i wouldn't have had the courage to tell those closest to me about my thoughts, how dark they were. 

Sure my life could have been different if I didn't have depression and anxiety but one thing i do know is how much stronger I've gotten. One of the reasons why I'm open and expressive about my depression and anxiety is to help other people understand the impact mental illnesses have on me and many others, in hope that it will inspire people to ask for help. To inspire more work to be done surrounding mental health. Mental health matters.

I thought that if I talked about it, it meant something was wrong with ME…me as a person. Obviously, depression and anxiety is a struggle that shouldn’t have to happen even though it does. But I believed that the anxiety and depression was completely my fault and a negative part of myself. That i deserved to feel low. I was constantly avoiding going to family gatherings, to school (being bullied) because I couldn’t get out of bed, or I felt too embarrassed. I couldn’t separate the, depression and anxiety from myself, it was something that kept getting more difficult because i wasn't talking about it.

The doctor gave me medication for depression and anxiety after weekly therapy. At the time, I felt small. I felt like a broken person I felt like a burden. It takes time to find the right medication that works for you.
Then things started to change.
Over time, medication helped, but I also began to learn how to control it, to manage it. While depression and anxiety was and still is a part of me, the other parts of me are bigger and stronger.

Here are the things my mental health taught me:

- There is a time for everything. We do not live in movies where we can skip the bad parts and fast forward to the good ones. We need to spend some time journeying through the darkness to find the way out. There is a time for suffering and there is a time for healing. Be patient, you’ll be okay at the right time.

- It challenged me to stand up for myself. To be my own best friend. To be a badass warrior.

- It’s okay to fall out of love with yourself. There will be times where you hate yourself and that’s okay because the process of loving yourself again is a tough but beautiful one.

- You can stand alone. There are wars we must face alone to discover the strength and courage which we often don’t know we have. There are wars we must survive alone to know our greatest potentials and uncover the realities of ourselves. We go through the worst things and people do not always understand. Even our love ones do not always understand our struggles. We feel like we need someone to save us from the misery.

- All emotions are valid. Depression can make you feel sad for no reason at all. That sadness is valid. Anxiety can rear its ugly head at the most random of times. The worry and panic it produces are both valid. No matter how petty or how small your emotions may feel to you (or to others), they are valid. You are entitled to your emotions, it’s an innate right us humans sometimes forget that we have. Don’t ever let someone tell you the way you’re feeling is incorrect or wrong.

- You are stronger for it. Mental illness in its own right, is a tool. A tool used to carve the strength out of a raw human. It will chip away at you, but it leaves you stronger and more resilient. It will pull out the strength that you had inside of you from the start. It will make you push yourself past the threshold you may have created for yourself.

- It is okay to not be okay. It is very hard for someone who is depressed and has anxiety to ask for help, and when they do, they feel guilty for bothering others with their problems. Someone who is depressed might feel the need to put a smile on every morning. Over the past five - seven years, I’ve spent so much time crying in my bedroom in the middle of the night so no one would hear; answering every “How are you?” with a forced smile and a “I’m fine” because I was worried that I would be bothering someone if I ever told them the truth. For the longest time, I didn’t let anyone in because I was concerned that if they knew who I actually was, they wouldn’t want me anymore.

-  You are not perfect. No one is perfect. That is a piece of common sense that so many people disregard. Trying to be perfect in an imperfect world means one thing: everything you are trying to balance is going to fall square on your head and crush you. Something will all do, whether we realise it or not. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Forgive yourself. You’ll never be perfect, so let yourself to be human. Focus on being a better person, being yourself rather than being this perfect ideal.

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-  Every person is fighting his or her own battle. Each and every one of us is struggling with something. We are all striving to overcome our struggles and not let them control our lives.

- It's taught me to be brave and to not be afraid of anything. To do things at my own pace. It affected my life on a daily basis where I couldn’t focus on what really mattered, my dark thoughts over clouded my everyday life. It’s important to be brave and focus on yourself, because that’s the most important.

- To know how to fight. The battle against depression, and finally the triumph, made me learn how to fight the good fight, to fight certain urges, to fight laziness, to fight fear, to fight negative thoughts, to fight any obstacle that can stand in the way of being my best version.

- Nobody will ever be able to understand exactly what you are going through. Mental illness is extremely individualized, so sometimes you have to take what people say with a grain of salt, because the same thing that may help them may not help you. It is also important to note, however, that even if someone doesn’t completely understand, they may be able to relate to some of your symptoms or experiences, which can make them a great form of support.

My journey with this mental illness has been a bumpy road, to say the very least. I go through months without any symptoms, feeling carefree and happy. And then all of a sudden it hits me like lightning, and I can’t do anything to stop it. If I didn’t have anxiety and depression, I’d have better self esteem. I wouldn’t question my ability to write etc. I wouldn’t question myself as a person. I wouldn’t question my self worth and ability to love. I would just be content with just me.

So, yes, mental illness has turned my world upside down. It has left me isolated, constantly detached, scared of people, and scared of leaving my home. However, it has also made me strive for more, it has changed parts of my life for the better, and it has made me a better person. While I would give anything for this to go away and for me to be better, I would like to take some of the power back by saying thank you to my anxiety. I do like to believe that a higher force, my guardian angel maybe, has set me this ‘challenge’ as a means of steering me in the right direction, ensuring that I am destined for bigger and better things

If I didn’t have depression and anxiety, I wouldn’t be judged. Be judged by people who don’t understand. Who don’t understand that this is an illness. It’s a chemical imbalance in my brain that I can't help. That being said If I didn’t have depression and anxiety, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am right now. I wouldn’t be as resilient and as brave.

 I want to show that it isn’t something you should be embarrassed about. Mental illness has a negative stigma. It’s getting better, but it still exists. Some even believe it’s a completely destructive force that can’t ever be beat. They see it as a deal breaker for success and happiness. I’m here to tell you otherwise. My struggle with anxiety empowered me and taught me. In a lot of ways, it’s made me a better person. I believe I can get past the ways it holds me back, and if you struggle as well, so can you.

Remember: It gets better.
There is light at the end of the tunnel. Every single time someone said this to me I hated it. I hated hearing that it would get better when I couldn’t see that it would. When you’re in that place where all you know is your depression and you don’t even remember not being depressed, hearing that it will get better is a slap in the face. But I am finally in a place where I can tell you that it does get better. I’m not a stable human being by any means, and I’m not through with my depression and anxiety, but I am better.

I thought that my situation was different and that there was absolutely no way that it would get better for me. I always wondered how other people could say this not knowing my situation. How do you really know it will get better for me if you don’t even know me? How do you know I’m not the one person that it won’t get better for? You can always rework how you think, or find a solution to improve how you feel. Sometimes this takes a long time. It may even feel like it is taking forever. You must know though, that the mind is a very, very powerful thing, and it is capable of so much more than you even realise. Keep going.

My mental illnesses have empowered and are continuing empowering me and I'm thankful for that. I am a warrior. To quote Demi's song:

Now I'm a warrior
Now I've got thicker skin
I'm a warrior
I'm stronger than I've ever been
And my armor, is made of steel, you can't get in

How has a mental illness empowered you?

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