My Mental Health Journey

I’m sitting here in Melrose, Scotland, at the local pub’s beer garden, Pimm’s in hand, enjoying the dry weather while it lasts. Reflecting on the past few months, I have realised how far I have actually come. Although the journey I have been on this year may seem to be filled with mainly physical accomplishments (losing weight, focusing on physical fitness, and taking care of myself physically), majority of the reason that I have gotten to such an amazing place in life is because I have finally prioritised taking care of my mental wellbeing. After years of being on a complete mental health rollercoaster, filled with extreme highs and lows, I decided to make time each and every day for bettering my mental health, and it has definitely proved to be well worth it.

Dealing with depression and anxiety has been the most extreme challenge I have, and probably ever will, face. It’s something I’ve dealt with from a very young age and has been a part of my life every single day. Even though I had many periods where the state of my depression was subsided, I always knew it was just around the corner. Even when things seem to be going well in life, depression can creep out of nowhere and take over once again. The state of depression engulfs you and completely takes control over your life. It can drain every ounce of life out of you and make you forget the purpose of your life, or even that there is a purpose at all. Paired with anxiety and having extreme fears of the world around me, my mental wellbeing has suffered for a big chunk of my life. I have never had a clear sight of myself, who I am, and who I want to be. I didn’t have any dreams or goals for my life. I had no hope or expectations for the future. My depression and anxiety completely stole these abilities from me. All throughout high school and university I wasn’t living with a purpose. I didn’t think I had a reason for living. I was so unsure of myself and my capabilities, which turned into me living every day like a zombie, drained of life.

Through my mom’s position as a psychologist and the knowledge she has, I always had amazing resources at my fingertips. I had so many opportunities to focus on bettering my mental wellbeing, yet this never happened. I found it so difficult to even admit to dealing with my circumstances, let alone talk about it with someone. Every time I attempted discussions about my mental health, an anxiety attack would occur or I would just break down. It seemed impossible just to say “No, I’m not okay and I need help”. So I continued on for years, not addressing this paralysing problem that was present in my life. And this was my biggest mistake. I somehow believed that I would eventually get through it, one day. One day, in the future, I’ll make an effort to better myself. One day I’ll put the resources I was given to use. But not today. “I’m too exhausted today”.

After experiencing my depression at its most extreme point, I decided that I need to change. If I would continue living my life the way that I had been up to that point, I would completely lose my light. I knew that if I crossed the point I was currently at, I wouldn’t be able to get better. So, what started out as forcing myself to work out 5-6 times a week, slowly turned into a new appreciation for my body, and myself as a person. Not avoiding mirrors, thinking positive thoughts about myself, and setting goals for myself, all became a reality. It took several months, but I finally began discovering who I am and what I want out of life. After pushing myself out of my comfort zone over and over again, I have learned so much about myself. For the first time in my life, I have found an amazing feeling of empowerment and a desire to really live. And even though I don’t know what may be around the corner, I am fairly certain that the future holds only the best for me. The hostile thoughts which had filled my mind up to this point, were finally being changed to neutral and even loving ones.

I’m not claiming to be at a flawless and perfect place in life. I’m quite certain that, as it always has, depression will make an appearance in my life again. And I know that I’m not done having anxiety or dealing with anxiety attacks. But I am slowly becoming a stronger person, making it so much easier to deal with these mental illnesses. With this newfound mental wellbeing, I will no longer be held back by depression and anxiety. I will travel and experience everything this world has to offer. I won’t be fearful to try new things. I won’t feel dependent on others or on the metaphorical bubble that surrounds my bed. And I’ll continue pushing myself out of my comfort zone. Because I’ve heard that life truly begins when you step outside of your comfort zone. And for once, I am certainly ready to live.

*Note: Here’s a link for a TED talk discussing how to deal with depression without letting it take control of your life. I found the concepts discussed very useful and helpful, and hopefully you will too.

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