The Fear

Petrified doesn’t seem to express fully what I am feeling. This is my first post. When I saw the post about new collaborator’s part of my brain said “Why not?” The other part screamed “DON’T DO IT!” So I sent an email and here I am.

I have major depressive disorder, ADD, social & general anxiety, some OCD, and paranoia. Some of it is genetics. Some of it is from my life thus far. I would like to say that it doesn’t matter how I got my mental health issues. But that would be a lie. Lying is not my forte. Genetics are hard to blame. People however, they can totally be blamed for some of it.

Fear and worry often consume me. Even while I write this I can feel the fear and panic rising. I keep going back and deleting things I’ve written. Worried that I will be to all over the place because my ADD meds are wearing off. What if my writing isn’t good enough? What if no one reads it? What if no one cares? There are so many “what if” thoughts. My brain keeps sending up a stop sign telling me not to do this. I want to though. So I’m trying.

Two weeks ago, during therapy, I finally said something that I never really said and since then I keep thinking about it. I live in fear. I fear that my current relationship isn’t real, that she is just pretending. I can’t shake the thought that people who say they are my friends are just saying it because they feel sorry for me. I’m afraid to even try making new friends because I worry that they too will be lying to me. I get scared that I am talking to much or not talking enough. I over analyze conversations I had with people. I hold conversations in my mind before I do it out loud in hopes that I won’t sound weird when I finally do talk.

There are other fears, but mainly they revolve around people. All those things list above are because of someone hurting me. My husband was one person when I married him and then the switch flipped. I didn’t see the manipulation or hear the verbal abuse. When I was in middle school my best friend told me she was only being my friend because she felt sorry for me! Who the hell does that?

My therapist says that given my history with people the fear is understandable. He also said I will most likely live with this type of fear my whole life. As long as I have genuine people in my life it will get a little better. BUT… I will always be fearful of the switch in those people flipping.

Since I have no control over that fear, I’m going to take control over other fears. Starting here. I’m going to overanalyze everything I write and second guess myself every step of the way, but I’m going to hit submit.

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?

Different Types of Panic Attacks

This is not a scientific post. There are no references cited. This is solely based on my own experiences. Depending on my mood, emotions, and sensory stimuli, I never have the same kind of panic attacks. There are many factors that combine to bring on an attack. There are other instances where the same situation causes no panic. It’s unpredictable. Even which kind of attack I will have is unpredictable. I have identified three kinds of attacks I’ve had, each one a different form of panic. There could be more, but these are mine.

Normal Apprehension as Panic

These are the normal things that cause anxiety for anyone. Things like stage freight and public speaking, talking to your crush for the first time, or doing anything for the first time. On occasion, I get so worked up I can’t do the thing. Sometimes, forcing myself to keep going works and I get stuff done. This doesn’t always work, and I abandon all hope until the next time around. Not everyone has issues with this sort of anxiety, but those of us with anxiety disorders struggle a little more than others. This is the easiest type of panic from which to come down and doesn’t ruin your day.

Fear as Panic

Anyone who feels their life is in danger will have a slight panic attack. This is a normal reaction to danger. What do you do when you’re lying in bed, nothing is happening, and your heart starts racing? What do you do when you feel like you’re in danger, but there’s no danger around you? This type of panic attack is the most unpredictable because it can happen anywhere, anytime, and with no probable cause. This is also the most difficult panic attack to get over. I think it’s because the lack of a cause creates more anxiety.

Anger as Panic

This is the one I struggle with the most. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s never fun when it does. Usually, when my senses are overwhelmed, and I have less control than I’d like, I get frustrated. When this happens, I have to move around and handle things within my control to calm down. When I can’t do this, and I feel things are not being done the way they should, I get angry. I snap at others or have an attitude when I don’t need one. It used to be a lot worse, but as long as I don’t allow myself to get frustrated, I can avoid this kind of panic.

With all three of these panic attacks, I have the same symptoms; pounding chest, the shakes, irritability, and the need to avoid all humans. Sometimes the attack and symptoms last a few minutes where other times they can last for hours. I’m still learning about mine and figuring out how to avoid having them. I try to avoid stressful situations. Easier said than done. If I can’t avoid them, I focus on things I can control, even if all I do is rearrange furniture. It keeps me focused and I can avoid getting too angry or having to leave to catch my breath.

Why Do We Do What We Always Do?

I’ve been a little down lately.

For anyone who ever feels the effects of depression, that’s code for: crying sporadically, feeling worthless, and avoiding people in general.

On the plus side, I’ve been doing some thinking. How? A detached, more logical human often steps aside from the involved, emotional creature on the floor and studies her like an anthropologist.

Here are some of my observations:

  1. When feeling bad, I try to feel worse.
  2. I really just want someone to love me, so I hurt anyone who gets close enough to even talk.
  3. Although self-care and routine would help, I intentionally do not sleep and avoid cognitive behavioral therapy-like activities.
  4. I often think nothing will get better, though a hormone shift completely alters my perspective.
  5. Despite knowing to avoid vices, I dive right in.
  6. I tell myself mean, cutting, disparaging, rude, abusive, sarcastic, reproachful, cruel phrases that I also say are all true. They’re not.

In short, mein patient, I haf observed that I not only shoot myself in the foot; I also get the arm, gut, and a hopeful shot near something vital. Why?

Fear. Self-protection. Habit.

Fear? I fear change and the unknown so much that I sink back into habits and negative feelings because they are more familiar. I do not know the outside.

Self-protection? What I do know of the outside is painful. People are rude and hurt me, even by not paying attention –especially by not paying attention. Things I hope for will not come true, I will feel sad, and the world is full of disparity.

Habit? Besides those reasons, I do not have enough motivation to believe that the small steps others (including myself) recommend will make a positive change. I inch a toe out just a teensy bit toward a better habit, see little or no difference, and crawl back to my mud.

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So what’s a person to do?

In actual practice, I repeat my ingrained cycle over and over. I avoid self-motivation by constantly blocking ways that might help. I deny outside help, even shutting the door on physical interventions as simple as a hug. I’m not sure what I’m waiting for in doing this.

Yet, occasionally, the outside observer and the person on the floor become one. I blink, look around, and realize this isn’t such a great place to be. Others may have this happen the morning after a night of drinking or doping, the moment sedatives wear off, or at that terrible time of early morning when you still can’t sleep and know any effort to try will not be enough.

No wonder we’re depressed.

I believe what I’m waiting for is an outside intervention. I’m hoping that a knight in shining armor will show he cares enough for me always, perfectly, consistently. Motivation is his noble steed. His blade is The Real Truth, and his shield The Defender of All Who Might Hurt Me. He never gives up, never takes, “No,” for an answer, and is never distanced by the rude things my inner voice says.

And, until he charges up to little, fat, depressed, muddy me; I am determined to keep up the bad habits.

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This expectation is not reasonable.

So, what’s a person really to do?

*Sigh* I think I need to cut out the crap. In some cases, literally; like not giving into unhealthy vices. I also think I need to really commit to the cognitive behavioral therapy stuff. I talk about it, endorse it, and encourage others to do it. Then, I …don’t.

As a New Year’s resolution this November day, I am going to check out some free resources and get on it. If you might possibly relate to fear, self-protection, and habit-driven behaviors, I recommend coming along, too.

I am worth better than this, and so are you.

Let’s keep fighting.

Procrastination, Another Word for Fear

Everything you’ve ever wanted is on the other side of fear. ― George Addair

fear pic        Photo by Pixabay

Most of my life I have been plagued with anxiety, and while suffering from it has been difficult, hiding it has been much easier. On the outside I would come off as maybe a little intense or excitable, but not anxious. However, inside, I was a wreck. My mind would be racing while my heart would follow. I would feel as if there was a storm that I couldn’t control internally shifting me for reasons I couldn’t explain. On top of the emotional chaos, anxiety has a way of playing tricks on my mind, and for a very long time, I allowed it to dictate my thoughts and ultimately my actions in this adventure called life.

While there are many reasons behind my anxiety, fear is the most profound. Fear of spiders, natural heights, massive crowds, my laundry pile, gloomy weather, unfamiliar places, losing someone I love, or one that kept me from truly living for so many years, rejection.

Rejection, not meeting up to someone’s expectation, or being left out, is/was (I’m working on it) paralyzing for me. Was it a learned thought process rather than a born one, I would answer yes, aren’t most fears learned at one time or another? When did I learn it? I may tell you that it was the 2nd grade when I was completely embarrassed for blowing my nose from a cold in front of the class and they all laughed, or because I was almost six foot tall in middle school and towered over not just the girls, but the boys as well, but honestly, I’m not sure exactly when I learned it, and maybe it was a progressive compilation of many moments, but no matter how it happened, or when it happened, it scared the hell out of me.

As with my anxiety, I learned to hide this fear by pretending all was good, life was grand, and that every decision I made I made with upmost, pigheaded confidence. I would be so convincing to others that I began to convince myself. Although I never realized it then, lying to myself became the norm and along with lying as a defense mechanism for my fear, I recently learned that procrastination was a sneaky “characteristic” that not only kept me from facing that fear, but gave me the ultimate excuse. It was part of my personality, it was who I was.

I look back and I am beside myself to think of all the times procrastination either delayed a blow to the ego, avoided frightening confrontation or kept me from rejection all together. What I wasn’t seeing back then was that eventually it all caught up with me, and if I would have just dealt with the situation in the moment it wouldn’t have been so difficult later.

I’ve only recently admitted these facts about my personality to myself, because only recently have I realized how prominent I use this mechanism in my life, and only recently did it truly click why. My revelation came when I was asking for universal guidance and then questioning my own actions in the process. As I’ve said in many of my previous posts, my true path is to inspire, and my goal is to do so as an author. Funny thing is though, to be an author, you have to write a book.

I have the ideas, I have the words, I even have the outline, but for some reason I cannot get myself to start page one. In this moment, I thought about all the reasons I haven’t begun, like I’m too busy at work, I have too many obligations, I feel blocked, I need to meditate instead, I have to binge watch Netflix, it’s too nice outside, I have to prep dinners (which I absolutely never do, but it’s been an excuse), and the list goes on and on, and then suddenly the light bulb went off in my head, it finally dinged. I am terrified.

Being on a solid stretch of self-discovery and sharing my journey, and what helps me along the way has opened my eyes to who I really am, and to the lies that anxiety and fear have been telling me for so long. I am procrastinating. I am so afraid I either won’t finish, or I won’t succeed that I continue to make excuses to not takes steps toward my goal. This frustrates and angers me, but most of all, it saddens me.

In so many aspects of my life I have taken incredible leaps and bounds toward my truth, and encourage others to do the same, but for this, my ultimate dream, I’m so scared of it disappearing, I’m paralyzed at the notion of trying. Even right now, I should be writing Chapter One, but instead, I’m writing about how I’m not writing.

With these new-found revelations, I decided that it is time to take my own advice. While I’m nervous typing these words, I am consciously aware why I am standing still, and consciously aware that I need to get over it. I will write my book and I will start now.

As we walk our paths within our true selves understanding that we are here for a reason, we cannot let fear hold us back. I know this, and I now know more than ever that it is my choice to stay where I’m at or step toward my purpose. Today, I choose to take that step, I hope all who read this do too.

Much Love,

Lisa J

As a side note, when I began blogging, I was also terrified, but today, I am truly grateful for this platform as without it and without the opportunity to share my thoughts, I may still be paralyzed by fear. Thank you for allowing me to share my story and thank you for reading. ❤

Son, I’m Sorry I Gave This to You

I am a 41-year-old mom with three children. I suffer from generalized anxiety disorder. My mother also suffers from anxiety, and she revealed to me that my grandfather was also known to be an anxious man. It’s in our family, we pass it on to the next generation, like some diseased baton in a relay race. The person in front of us reaches back accepting the gift without even looking behind them. I didn’t volunteer to hand this over to anyone; I’m sure my mom didn’t hand it over to me with ease either. I couldn’t prevent this from happening – well I suppose I could have chosen not to have children. That idea makes my heart ache.

A few weeks ago school started, and we started to see my six-year-old son becoming tearful at night. He asked me if he could be “absent” from school the next day. After some digging in it appears his new teacher (a male) is a rather tall man with a big voice. We believe my son is intimidated by him. I jumped, not brushing this off, and I spoke with the teacher and the school counselor. Both were receptive and helped to make plans to follow up with my son. All parties are seeming eager to understand my son’s feelings of “being sad and nervous” at school. I felt really good about the first step I took. I felt like we were making progress just by opening up lines of communication. I felt like I had given him this ugly scar that he will have to try to hide from others for the rest of his life and I don’t know how to help him because I so often don’t know how to help myself.

He had a soccer game on Saturday, leading up to the game he doubled over in the back seat, crying and telling me his head and stomach hurt. He didn’t want to play. I talked him into sitting on the sideline with me to watch, hoping he would want to join his team when he was ready. Thinking ahead, I brought his gear, and he changed his mind and played. He played with enthusiasm too! The process of leading up to getting him on the field was his first panic attack, at least the first one I have witnessed. He did overcome it, but I know what it is.

My husband and I deliberate for hours after the kids were in bed. What are we doing or what are we NOT doing right? What can we change? What can we do better? Will the other two children be like this too? Surely it has to skip at least one of them?

I know people will read this and say I shouldn’t apologize, but I am. Pardon my writing while I switch to talking directly to my son as if he (a child) could understand everything here.

I’m sorry, son. I know. I know what it’s like to want to do something so badly, but fear holds you back. I know what it’s like to think you can be something great, yet being the center of attention is terrifying. I know what it’s like to feel like no one wants to play with you, and you are too shy to make eye contact or ask others if you can join them. I know what it’s like to lay awake at a sleepover and beg the sunlight to pop through the window so you can feel like you belong with the other kids again. This is a lonely and scary road ahead. I’m sorry.

I’m sorry I haven’t figured out how to dig myself out of the deepest crevice I threw myself in years ago. I am more than halfway out, I have overcome so much, but I’m not stupid, I know there is more. There will always be more.

I promise to you that I will be here for you to shake in front of, cry, throw up, or feel like you might poop your pants (yeah, isn’t that one fun). I will be here when you feel like eating in front of people is difficult, so you don’t (that phase passes I promise). I will hold your hand in long lines, tell you it’s okay to take a break and it’s okay to walk away – that’s not all true though.

You see, sometimes you have to shake alone, lose your breath alone, and let your mind race around one topic, alone. Sometimes you have to eat before you go out to dinner, sometimes you have to face the long line (or order it from Amazon), but most importantly you CANNOT always walk away. Sometimes you have to face it head on, and it will suck. It will be hard. It will be harder for you than it is for others and no one (but me) will understand how hard it is.

Seeing you torn up over a school day or a soccer game has stirred some triggers in me. I have sensed this early, so I promise you that I am going to help myself and help you. I am going to look for answers for both of us. This is new territory, but I know there aren’t always going to be answers. When that happens, I will lay in bed with you and read you Creepy Carrots and talk about Lego and Nerf guns. You are a kid. It’s not fair that you feel this way already. I’m sorry that you do. I’m trying to help. I want to get you the help I didn’t get myself until I was older. When you wait to get help it feels like the darkness of anxiety settles in your bones and it’s harder to shake. Maybe there is hope that we can get ahead of that happening. I’m not sure. Right now I want to make this easier for you. I don’t want you to suffer like me. I love you so much. I’m sorry I gave this to you.

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Photo Credit Pixabay

When Fear Cleared I Found Anger

Fear has caused me to avoid certain situations, like long lines in the grocery store. I feared a panic attack and being stuck with no way out. Trapped. With therapy and self-awareness, I have started to realize a lot of the fear was attached to learned responses. My brain says “Holy shit, man! Panic! Something bad is going to happen. Get out now while you still can!” Truth is, I’m just waiting in a really long line that is moving slow. I have not had a panic attack in years, yet the feeling is still fresh. It is horrible and debilitating – and embarrassing. I learned that losing control like this feels like I’m dying; therefore I concluded that the potential risk of having a panic attack is good enough reason to avoid anything that could result in one. However, that fear is dissipating.

Previously I wondered what would replace anxiety when I was “cured.” Let me be clear, I do not believe that you can CURE anxiety. I do think you can relieve yourself from its grasp and live a productive life full of joy and sorrow and anger, all that ordinary life stuff without flipping out. Anxiety is low these days, but it will always be a part of me, even if it’s lying dormant. With fear at bay, I am discovering anger and frustration. Now, when I’m in line at the grocery store and no one is moving; the thoughts that rock through me are full of straight up hate: What the hell is taking so long? How stupid can you be? Just scan the friggin item and put it in the dang bag. Move people! Move! I have better places to be.

This recognition came as a surprise to me. The lid of fear is peeled back; what little prize do I find inside – anger. I wonder how fear and anger are connected? When I see my temper is rising, I try to suppress it, but it leaks out in shameful ways. I am short with people I care about. My husband, my kids, my family, friends. Self-care starts to suffer, I eat horrible, drink less water, don’t exercise, go to bed late and then don’t fall asleep, a dull headache plagues me for days.

Hello, internet. Seems there are a few things I can do to get ahead of the funk. Supplements, eating better, avoiding excess carbs and alcohol, be more active, taking breaks when life gets too stressful. All solid advice, easy to read, not so easy to put into motion. I think the most beneficial thing I have learned from therapy is that you don’t have to conquer all your vices today. It’s the small steps (sometimes microscopic) that have ultimately lead to success.

So, today I am drinking more water and setting a bedtime for myself. A time for bed with no excuses. I have recognized a direct connection between treating my body well and my mental health.

I’m even joining the gym – I hope I go.

Inner Fears – A Guest Blog Spot

How to deal With Your Inner Fears

I write this blog post using my own personal experience. I am not a psychiatrist so tread lightly.  First of all, if your fears put you in any kind of danger then I would seek professional help immediately.  Medication plus counseling is the key. Counseling helps you talk about your fears and gets to the main cause of those fears.  Knowing the cause empowers you to heal.

I speak of fears or inner demons.  Fears to go out of your home fears to interact with people, fears of places or things.

The first thing to do is to analyze whether your fears are real.  You can do this by listing your fears and then rate them from one to ten.  With one being your weakest fear and ten being your strongest fear.  Then list the lowest fear first and so on.  Now beside each fear write down if it’s real or not.  You can challenge your fear by questions like the following.

  1. Has this happened before in the past?
  2. Does this happen all the time?
  3. Is this real or is it just in my mind?

If your fears aren’t real and are only in your mind then it’s time to seek professional help and medication.  A psychiatrist can help.

But even if your fears aren’t real you may need help to face them.  I know of a way that can help.  You take one fear at a time to work on.  Use the list you made above.  Make a form for the first lowest ranking fear.  Then you rate your fear on a scale of one to ten.  Then you think of the negative belief that fear.  For example: they’re going to get me!  And you write down the negative belief and rate your belief in it on a scale from one to ten.  Then you think of a positive counter statement.  A positive statement that will help you deal with your fear and that negative belief.  For example:  They’re not interested in me!  Rate the belief in this positive counter-statement on a scale from one to ten.

If your belief in the positive counter statement is higher than your belief in the initial negative thought then you are winning already.  If it doesn’t continue to work on your fear.  With time it will get better.

Rerate the first negative belief after you think of your positive counter statement.  It should have dropped.  Then write down what you are feeling after facing your fear and rate it on a scale of one to ten.

As you go out of your comfort zone to face your fear, this positive counter statement will bring down your belief in the negative thought and bring down your fear!  The more often you go out of your comfort zone to face your fear, the more chances that the positive counter statement will slowly bring down your fears.

But remember to work on one fear at a time. As I said, start with the lowest ranking fear for practice.  This should take a couple of months at least.  Daily facing your fear will bring the initial feeling of fear down as well as the belief in that initial negative thought.  We are working on that initial negative belief.  We are also working on increasing the belief in the positive counter statement.

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Once your belief in the negative thought is down to one or two out of ten you can consider that you have succeeded in challenging your fear.  Then work on the next fear on that initial list.  Again create a form where you can write down each time the rating of your fear, your belief in the initial negative belief, your positive counter statement, your belief in your positive counter statement and the subsequent belief in the negative thought.  Then write down the emotion that you are feeling and rate it.  For me, it was always a relief.

Good luck in facing your fears! Remember that if at any time you feel overwhelmed, take a moment, breathe, relax and stop.  Go to your safe place at home or stop for a coffee and relax. Take a deep breath and concentrate on your breathing and relax.  Don’t face your fear again until the next day.

Good luck!

Author: Miriam’s Art

Photo Credit:

unsplash-logoLeio McLaren

The Long Road to Betterment

As human beings, regardless of our backgrounds, we’ve become conditioned to evaluate our success in life based on the monetary value of our material possessions. The impact of this trending train of thought has become detrimental to our society, and is especially toxic for those of us who already struggle to find our sense of selves, our true value.

This shift in humanity, in my opinion, grew exponentially with the rise of the technological era. While it’s existed within us for several generations, it’s much more prominent in the last few. And while recently there has been a small faction bringing minimalist living to light, currently more than ever we have become obsessed with the idea of owning the best and newest things.

This has been a difficult post to write because of my own current struggles on the topic. Where is the line between valuing possessions over what really matters, and yearning for a sense of security you’ve never known? There’s obviously financial security in the way of assets, and then there’s having a stable life. Who’s to say when we’ve taken it too far, and how do we separate the wants from the true needs?

I was raised as a welfare baby, my mom on social security, section 8, food stamps, and I’ve had government provided health insurance for my entire life. My mom still survives on the programs, and now I’m raising my daughter on food stamps and free health care as well. It’s not a choice, because while my husband works, it’s not enough, and I can’t bring in enough money with my disabilities to make the pain they’d cause worth the while.

I’m sure my mother wasn’t proud to need all that assistance to raise me, and I’m certainly not proud either. We recently began trying to apply for home loans, as we’ve both lived under mostly slum lords for our entire lives and we want better for our daughter. Long and painfully disappointing story short, we got denied this week and it broke me.

This switch has gone off inside of me, making me feel guilt, inferiority, and judgment towards myself. I swore I’d never raise my child on welfare, but this was before I knew of my physical restraints. Despite my lack on control in the matter, there’s a certain self resentment that comes with that, a sense of worthlessness. I thought I’d found the perfect home for us, actually allowed myself to get excited for once, and now someone else’s family will fill the home.

It’s been an incredibly trying week, with tensions always escalating and tensions always rising due to our current crappy living situation, and I haven’t felt this defeated in a really long time. Especially for those of us with mental illness, stability is incredibly imperative to our success, and it’s my firm belief that if I can finally achieve stability, maybe I can finally begin my journey to betterment.

What I thought was one step closer turned out to be two steps back, but I must still press on. I have to believe that there’s more left in life for me than just the current chapter, that the book will have at least a relatively halpy ending. Here’s to everyone else who’s had a disappointing week or felt broken by something outside of your control. Life gave us lemons, so I guess we’re making lemonade, no matter how sweet or sour it tastes.

PTSD, PPD, and Parenthood

My first mental illness diagnosis was given at age 3, and while I don’t have many memories of being in therapy at that young of an age, I’ve always felt as though it defined me. When you’re told something about yourself your entire life, things from before your earliest memories, it’s sometimes difficult to reconcile it within yourself. From as young as I can recall, I’ve been told about these tragic and devastating events that I can’t remember, but I wasn’t even old enough to recognize how truly terrible the things happening to me were.

My current combination of mental disorders is PTSD, major depressive disorder, avoidant personality disorder, agoraphobia, and OCD, with a dash of bipolar disorder. The collective adds up to be more than overwhelming most days, and sometimes, it’s downright unbearable. Despite all of this, though, I do not take any medications, attend counseling, or pursue any of the conventional treatment styles. After 15 years of being in therapy, once I turned 18, I decided that I wasn’t putting myself through it anymore. I went through more therapists than some people do friends, and still couldn’t find anyone that I could actually trust and connect with.

I thought I had everything under control for a few years, using things I loved to fill the voids of emptiness within myself – mostly with music and writing. It seemed as though it was helping, focusing purely on what I love, trying desperately not to give any thought to the things in life that brought me stress or extra anxieties about the future. I got pretty decent at living in the moment, being present in the now, enjoying the life I had while I had it, and I had stopped obsessing over the future, at least somewhat temporarily.

One day, after finding out that I was unexpectedly pregnant, I found myself crumbling apart again, all the walls around me crashing down one by one, leaving me exposed, vulnerable, and completely terrified of what life would become. Would I be able to manage, mentally and physically speaking, and if so, would my genes ruin the poor kid’s life before they’ve even breathed life? I had always been plagued by mental illness, almost constantly tormented by my own thoughts for as long as I can remember now.

Knowing how much I already struggled to keep it together, I knew ahead of time that with this pregnancy and the fear, anxiety, and stress it entails, that I would most likely suffer from extreme episodes of postpartum depression. Just what I needed, something else for my negativity to harness and turn into something that consumes me so much more than it should have. I worried about the kind of mother I’d be, would I be capable of helping her through hard times when I can’t even help myself?

Despite my reservations, my fears, and my lack of self-confidence, from the moment my daughter was born, I was in love, in awe, and completely overwhelmed by feelings that I’ve never even witnessed, let alone imagined that I would ever get to experience. She’s taught me patience (as much as any mother can have with a 3.5 year old), and she’s given me motivation to learn so much more about myself, and to push myself to try and pursue new things, to seek out any small semblance of joy from any given daily task.

Many people doubted my abilities to raise her, myself included, and one of the most fulfilling things I’ve experienced in life thus far, is feeling satisfied in the fact that I love her more than I thought possible, that I would do anything for her, and that I want nothing more than to protect her from any and all pain, and be her best friend. I’ve far surpassed even my own imagination as to how this whole thing could have gone, and it’s one of only two things I’ve accomplished in my lifetime that have made me feel proud.

It’s never going to be easy, but as they say, hardly anything is ever easy if it is also worthwhile. As for being a parent and trying to learn and grow as you go, nothing in life could ever be more worthwhile. For any other parents out there struggling with mental illness, just know that you can love just as fully as anyone else, and that it doesn’t make you any less worthy of having that love returned back to you tenfold. Give yourself the benefit of the doubt every once in awhile, you might just surprise yourself – I know I did.