Having a Mental Illness as a Kid is Tough

I truly believe that I was born anxious.

I had serious separation anxiety as a baby up through most of elementary school when I was away from my mom. This lasted for way longer than it should have for a normal child.

As a kid, at least in my experience, I didn’t have the brain capacity to understand my emotions. I couldn’t express my feelings plus I didn’t want to. I thought that what went on in my brain wasn’t normal therefore I didn’t want anybody to know.

I struggled in school socially because of anxiety. I hated being with people I didn’t know, I didn’t like the focus to ever be on me and I always wanted to keep to myself or to my couple friends.

If I was put into a situation that made me anxious, I would cry. At 6 years old I couldn’t explain why I cried so often in school. Saying, “I cried because I didn’t like how everyone was looking at me when the teacher made me stand in front of the class.” never crossed my mind. Also if I said it, I’m not sure anybody would have understood what I really meant.

I remember taking a quiz or I was doing a worksheet in first grade. For some reason it made me upset, maybe I didn’t understand how to complete the sheet, I don’t know. Whatever triggered me made me cry which inspired the girl across from me to announce to the whole class that I was crying. My nightmare of everybody looking at me became a reality which made me cry even more.

When I reflect on being little, I so often think about the struggles that went on in my own head. I try to think about the fun things like my brother and I playing with our Crazy Daisy, going to the beach, eating ice cream and playing Pokemon Blue Version on my Gameboy Color.

I found childhood to be difficult and I think a lot of it has to do with my mental illness. Reflecting as an adult I would describe myself as being uncomfortable in my own skin. I always felt like I was in an itchy sweater that I wished I could take off so I could be anybody else but me.

I think that constant awkwardness was a result of anxiety and depression, two words I didn’t know until I was a teenager.

My awkwardness has decreased as I’ve grown but only in the last couple years have I felt comfortable in my skin. It’s been one long road to accepting myself for who I am.

Fellow Bipolar Writer readers and writers, did you have signs of mental illness as a child? If so, did you understand what was going on in your mind? Did adults around you see that you were struggling?

Can I Keep It Together?

I’ve lived with depression and anxiety my entire life so I understand the ups and downs of mental illness well. There are days when all things are fine then others where I wonder if getting out of bed is even worth it.

Right now I’m in a good spot mentally. It’s nice to have that moment to breathe in the fresh air of mental stability. The past few weeks have been lovely because I’ve had the opportunity to celebrate all of the family members I love.

Lately I’ve been reflecting on my journey and have been asking myself how long can I keep it together. I wonder how long will it be before I’m crying under my covers in bed because of my illness. I am worried about how long I’ll be able to stay clean from self-harm.

These spells of mental stability don’t last forever. Eventually I will fall back into my struggles. But how bad will it be next time? How soon should I prepare myself for when everything goes to shit?

Though my overall mind is calm, anxiety still tries to claw its way through my brain so I start worrying again. Then depression is right behind to try and drag me down from the weight of my thoughts.

I worry that my next episode will be miserable. I worry that I won’t be able to keep it together.

How do you keep it together when you feel like you’re crumbling into a million pieces?

Chronic Illness is NOT Invisible

I have been quiet for a while, not posting in this forum, cause well nothing new happened.  I stayed at home, tried to avoid the public health system, heck, public in general and hoped everything would be alright.  It was for a while inside the comforting embrace of the walls of our family home, with my children, family, whom are mostly supportive and accommodating.  They are this way I think, because I have trained them through trial and oh, oh so much error.  And we all learnt, felt and found new ways of being together.  Ways that are supportive of my health.  Ways that I think would be supportive of other people’s mental health.  Couple of key points include that you shouldn’t treat that person like a weirdo, talk about them without them when they’re in the room (or period actually) and that supplying them with truckloads of chocolate is necessary.  And this morning’s discovery was also to NOT distribute the kind of poster I received on what to do when you friend has a chronic “invisible” illness.

This rather um, insightful resource suggested that “friends” with mental illness are prone to having a nap at any point (I imagined myself walking and collapsing into a foetal position automatic nap mid-Supermarket), are likely to cancel plans before or on the day (going to use this for next own kid’s Birthday), and that they may need to leave a party and / or social engagement early (covered).  Added to this list includes that the person may or may not be interested in the conversation with you and my personal fave: may or may not answer the telephone.  I KNOW that a lot of the above is true and I am guilty of each every single day.  But if this is the nature of some (I have seen others) of the correspondence to the world on how to be more what, um, accommodating (?) of people with chronic “invisible” illness the message is WRONG and I think it makes the situation worse for those who do and contributes to erasing us even more.

Anyone who has lived with anyone who has chronic mental illness knows that IT IS NOT INVISIBLE.  And when it is, and when the signs above are shown, it’s not about accommodating me.  It’s about HELP.  I need you to actively enquire about how I am, what you can do, not shrug it off and take it seriously.   I and anyone who has it, does not choose to operate like a toddler coming off a sugar high requiring a nap.  And importantly, please don’t treat me like one, or think that raising your voice will help me hear / respond more clearly / appropriately.  No.  It doesn’t and makes it worse.   Create the environment where I will be ok.  Fight for the environment where people like me, like you, need not be afraid of how we will be treated or perceived.  Where we don’t need posters emphasising the symptoms of our suffering instead of our strength.

Help me see the things I am, the things I can be, and to savour the sunshine however fleeting it may be. Celebrate that I have depthless empathy,  that I love deeply, care greatly and can sometimes laugh loudly.  Laugh with me.  Celebrate the things that I do DO, not things the things I don’t.  Push past, push down, forward and back, but ensure that messaging about mental illness, chronic illness ensures that we are not anymore invisible than we already have been and are. Be part of those who support us as opposed to those who don’t.  I am 4 M’s Bipolar Mom.

 

Reflecting Before It Gets Ugly

I’m starting to see some negative characteristics in myself. Recently feelings of jealousy have been becoming more and more prominent in my mind.

My jealously is fueled by fear.

The fear of being forgotten. The fear that I won’t be loved anymore. That I will eventually fade from his mind and heart because he will be focused on spending time with friends that he cares about more than me.

I fear that the more time he spends with his friends, the less he will love me.

My anxiety is telling me all of these things despite reality. I know he loves me, I see it everyday!

I know that the tighter I hold on, he will feel suffocated. He will want to push me away instead which is the exact opposite of what I want.

The last thing I want to be is a toxic person to one of the people I love most.

I don’t know how to get rid of these jealous feelings, I’ve never felt this way before.

I want him to be happy in all aspects of life. And I’m not just writing that because I’m about to share this with a bunch of people; I truly mean it.

Have you experienced jealously in a long term relationship or in a friendship? How do/did you cope with it? How were you able to overcome your feelings of jealously?

Let’s Bloom Together

I’ve been doing well to keep up with reading most of the posts on this fantastic collaborative blog and I’ve noticed that a lot of us are really struggling right now.

For me, I know that I can post on here to find at least one person who says they have experienced or are experiencing the same thing I am. It makes me feel so much less alone!

We all struggle with our mental illnesses therefore we should all try to lift each other up!

I empower anyone reading this to take a moment to leave a comment below with words of encouragement, a song that lifts your spirits or whatever the f*ck you want that is positive.

Maybe you have a routine that helps you overcome anxious thoughts, leave it below!

Tell us your favorite comfort food you indulge in when you’re struggling! Mine is usually ice cream, a chocolate chip cookie or an expensive smoothie.

Share with us what you appreciate most about this mental health community!

I can’t wait to read your responses!

Does Mental Illness = Weakness?

This weekend was very difficult for me. My mental illness had me in its grip tight which kept me in bed for Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and about 75 percent of Sunday.

My boyfriend and I were butting heads which really made me anxious. I was having so many worries because of our argument that it made things worse.

He is a very introverted person so sometimes he needs an entire day to re-energize. He told me that he needed alone time this weekend to recharge and spend time with his friends who he doesn’t see very often. In true Megan fashion, I freaked out.

I plunged into my anxious thoughts so deeply that I thought I might get sick. I worried fervently about whether this was the end of our relationship. Whether he didn’t love me anymore. Whether he wanted to find somebody better than me who could meet every single need of his without fail.

My mental illness often makes me feel weak. That if I didn’t have these nagging thoughts that led me to staying in bed for hours, flipping out over a change of plans and crying a lot.

I feel like I should be stronger.

That I should be able to tackle my mental illness to the ground because I don’t fall for its bullshit anymore. That I should be able to rebound quickly or just stand strong after my intense sensitivity teams up with my anxiety to spiral me down into the arms of depression.

If I was stronger I wouldn’t lose an entire weekend because my feelings are hurt and my anxiety is making it 50 times worse.

But I can’t do those things.

I am too weak to overcome my mental illness.

I always ask for your opinion at the end so please leave me a comment! Does your mental illness make you feel weak too?

Encouraging Myself Before I Snap

I’m having a very difficult day today.

My anxiety levels are high while my depression is begging for me to crawl into bed where I can fall apart.

Since my iPhone woke me up this morning I have wanted to go back to sleep. I considered not getting up, to call in sick so that I could lay in bed all day. But then I remembered…

I had a beautiful quiche I bought at a local coffee shop in the mini fridge at work.

I said to myself, “I can’t let that quiche go to waste. I paid good money for that!”

So I told myself that if I go to work I can try to stay until 12:30 (basically half of my day) and eat my quiche.

This actually worked! I got ready as usual and continued to encourage myself throughout the day. I have been saying, “Ok, can I make it for another 5 minutes? How about another hour?”

It’s past 2 p.m. here on the East Coast of America so I’ve stayed well beyond my original goal. My goal right now is to make it until 2:30. From there I’ll evaluate if I can finish my work day.

Damn my therapist is going to be proud of me!

For when I go home I have no idea what is going to happen. I have been in control all day but I don’t know if I can prevent myself from having a meltdown.

I hope that this post helps somebody out there! Please leave me a comment of what you do to overcome the desires of your mental illness!

Mental illnesses can be so loud and have such a tight grip on us. It takes a shit load of strength to surmount the difficulties a mental illness brings.

Being a Highly Sensitive Person

Recently I learned about the term Highly Sensitive Person or HSP. I have always been a sensitive person but I didn’t know there was some sort of acronym to describe it.

A highly sensitive person is someone who “experiences acute physical, mental, or emotional responses to stimuli.” In my experience, it is responding more intensely to things than the average human.

I have always been highly sensitive about absolutely everything. If I was uncomfortable as a kid, I would often cry because of how upset and uncomfortable I felt. I have always been really effected by sadness, fear and pain.

If I was nervous about something I would (and still do) get stomach aches. If I was really stressed about something, I would get actually sick until the scary thing was over.

Today I am still very sensitive about most things. I think having anxiety and depression amplifies my sensitivity, they all feed off each other.

For most of my life I didn’t understand why I felt emotions so deeply. Why did I cry all the time when others didn’t? Why did I feel so hurt by negative comments?

As an adult I have been able to handle my sensitivity much better since I understand myself more. When I’m feeling very sensitive I make sure to take extra good care of myself. I let myself work at my own pace, enjoy my favorite foods, listen to music that makes me smile and not be so hard on myself.

Would you classify yourself as a highly sensitive person? If so, how do you cope with it?

Burnout And Complex PTSD

Photo by Ivan Obolensky on Pexels.com

Burnout and Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (C/PTSD) are rarely talked about. I think, for the most part, burnout and fatigue are the most debilitating symptoms that I have to deal with on a daily basis. Fatigue that is caused by my medication and from being extremely anxious and hypervigilant on a daily basis.

Drowning In Work

I find myself trying to drown myself into work, as a coping mechanism, whenever I get overwhelmed by my emotions (or lack of sometimes – due to my numbness) and my inability to articulate what causes me to feel anxious or depressed. It becomes an exhausting cycle, from time to time, and sometimes I seem unable to break out of it.

Life Is A Grind

I honestly believe that living with PTSD or CPTSD feels like I have been grinding for so long that my life has become a grid. I see myself eating at my desk more often than I should. Drinking more caffeine just so my body can cope with my grind or my need to keep grinding. Adding into the mix, my anxiety, depression and my lack of self-esteem coupled with my self-doubt that was instilled into my body by the trauma I have survived.

This seems to continue and gets to the point where I start eating less healthy and exercise less often. My mood than gets affected and everyone around me – well becomes frustrated with having to deal with my dark side. I honestly do get tired of feeling hopeless. This whole cycle then leads me into thinking that I have become inferior – by comparison – to who I was before my trauma.

This vicious cycle is unhealthy, I must admit. My body then gets to a point where it can’t take anymore stressors or continue to work. I think that this habit of constantly over-working myself can’t be stopped by self care mechanisms. although, they can help tame and slow down the process of burnout.

Get Help

If you are feeling this way at the moment, I hope you stop – pause – and listen to your mind, body, and soul. Because they are you and that is your power. Please try to seek professional help as well.

Burnout is the moment when everything gives, and it’s more common than you might think.

Matt D’avella

Let us rebuild a healthy state of mind.

Love,

Francesca

A letter to myself on the days I feel I’m about to drown

You are so much more than your productivity. Don’t break yourself for it.

Friendly reminder that “your best” doesn’t mean pushing yourself to your breaking point. “Your best” means the best you can do while being your best you. Get enough sleep, give yourself breaks, listen to your limits. “Your best” is better when you are happy and healthy.

I know how important it is to you; your work means everything to you, it’s your driving purpose, the fire in your belly, it’s how you find meaning in this sometimes arduous existence.

And you should work hard, push yourself, challenge yourself, get outside your comfort zone.

But you can be all of those things and be the best you. You can be successful without ignoring when your soul and body tell you that they need rest. God, I PROMISE the world will not end if you switch your phone off for a day and don’t open any emails! I swear, the world can go on without you!

Imagine your role in the world has a play and pause button. Don’t be afraid to hit pause when you need to; you can hit play just as easily, even though you’re afraid that if you stop you’ll lose momentum. But sustainable progress and growth and success don’t work that way. People who burn bright until the end are those who know when to dim the lights and when to turn them all the way up. dardan-671877-unsplash

I promise the world will survive if you take the day – maybe even the week if that’s what you really need – to breathe, to get to that laundry that’s been giving your anxiety and sweep all the dust out from under the bed and buy yourself some flowers and connect with loved ones for no reason other than that you should make all the time in the world for the things that matter in a life that is so fleeting.

You’ll hit play when you’re ready. Your fear of failure is just a shadow, it can’t hurt you or your progress. Acknowledge its presence, but say, “this feeling is uncomfortable, but it can’t harm me, it’s just a feeling, nothing more.” Just because you FEEL afraid that taking a break to recharge your mind and soul will derail you doesn’t mean it actually will.

I promise it won’t, so love and believe in yourself enough to trust your ability to get back into the race – after you’ve taken a moment to breathe, hydrate, stretch and centre yourself.

Your health, your wellbeing, and YOU exist outside of how productive you are. Don’t sacrifice those things for productivity. You are valuable and worthy of love and success and happiness and all things great even on your lazy, unproductive days where you don’t do anything noteworthy. You are amazing and valid even on the days you don’t do anything particularly amazing.

Resting is amazing.

Listen to your limits, and value yourself enough to do what you need to do when the alarms go off.

fatima-fuentes-1083754-unsplashHitting pause never killed anybody. You deserve rest, no matter how productive you think you haven’t been/should be.

So, go out and do your best this week; be the best you.

-Steph (hunting happiness)