Coming To Terms with Mental Illness

Anxiety and depression.

That was what my doctor said before she wrote down my prescription for medication on my chart. Anxiety was nothing new; we go way back. But depression? That was new. I wasn’t like those women on the TV commercials who struggled to get out of bed and put a smile on. But, when she explained it, it started to make more and more sense.

I was in college at the time. My sophomore year, to be exact. I was two years into my four-year interior design degree, and I can’t put into words the amount of dread I felt before my design class at 8am. I felt helpless. I would call my mom while having an anxiety attack, telling her how much I didn’t want to go. I would sit in my class trying so hard not to let tears run down my face even though I was surrounded by friends. Even after class, I would dread doing my homework, but at the same time, I would have an anxiety attack over not having enough time to finish it. And that was every day.

So, really, anxiety and depression made sense.

Even so, I left the doctor’s office feeling ashamed. Not because I needed help with my mental health, but because of what seemed to trigger it. Before college, I loved school. I was a good student. I loved my classes, I loved learning, I would even argue that 11th and 12th grade were the best years of my life so far. But having to take a medication just to get through college made me feel almost like a failure. It was such a contrast from the student I was two years prior.

Because of those feelings, it took me a while to tell some of my family and friends that I was having a hard time. I didn’t want to admit it. Once I sucked up my pride and started to tell people about my struggle, my support system only grew. And some people even shared how they had gone through similar situations. Man, I wish I would have done that earlier.

Although I hated to admit to myself that I was struggling, I wasn’t going to let my mind win. I was tired of letting it control my life. Sure, I may have suffered from anxiety and depression, but it didn’t define who I was. I was going to graduate, get a job, and show it who was boss. And guess what? I did. I took those little green and white pills, saw a therapist, and confided in my friends when I needed to. It took a while for me to get back to somewhat “normal”, but I did it.

Now that years have passed, I’ve grown out of a lot of my anxiety, but there are still some lingering signs of depression that appear every so often. It might be something that stays with me for the rest of my life. And you know what? That’s okay. I’ve accepted that part of myself. I’ve learned to cope with it, and if it ever rears its ugly head, I’ll remind it who is boss.

8 Comments

  1. I can relate to this on a much different standpoint. Parenting. I have had anxiety (and depression) for years but it wasn’t until after the birth of our third that my anxiety became unbearable and what I normally used to help get through those times was no longer working. I discussed it with my doctor and sure enough, Postpartum Anxiety. I got a prescription and like you said felt like a failure. I couldn’t get through being a mom, something I love very much and wouldn’t change for anyone or anything, without the help of medication! It’s still hard for me but I know that I will get through this as I have a very large support system. Like you, I didn’t want to share my failure but I’m so glad I did!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so sorry to hear you went through that. And I wish there wasn’t as much of a stigma on mental health, because I feel like we’d put less pressure on ourselves. If it was more widely accepted, then maybe there wouldn’t be a feeling of failure or inadequacy, and then it would be easier to talk to others about it as well.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thank you. The stigma and judgment are definitely stopping others from talking about it and you’re right, if it weren’t there more people would talk about it leading people to not feel inadequate. I’m glad that you’ve reached a point where you’re doing better and I hope it continues to get better!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing. It is really important to talk about mental health issues. I know your post will help others going through similar. Glad to hear you have recovered.

    Liked by 1 person

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