To actually admit it out loud is a little frighting, but it also makes me feel a little relieved. Why you might ask? Well, I have been struggling with my mental health for over a decade and I finally don`t have to put on this fasade anymore. I don`t have to keep pretending to be this bubbly, all around positive person people assume me to be. To be honest I`m not this person, most days are pretty downfalls were I feel sad for no apparent reason. I can literally have the most amazing day at work and later have the most awesome night with friends, but still end up completely mentally drained. It just happens. The best way I can describe depression is like feeling like your being trapped in this black hole and there is no way out. For each sad and terrible moment you are getting dragged deeper into this hole until you can`t see the light anymore. This feeling is terrible and I don`t wish this on anyone. Anxiety is not far away from the same feeling, they are very much connected. My anxiety is a lot more physical. I used to get such bad panic attacks which resulted into my heart rate went up, I started sweating and feeling like I couldn`t  breath. My head was shaking whenever I was moving my neck, it got worse when I thought people noticed. All of it feels like you are about to die and it`s more of a understatement to say the least. 

I first experienced anxiety in summer of 2005, I was ten years old and about to begin in 5th grade. The beginning of summer started out pretty great, but it quickly changed. I was being bullied for 3 years straight at that time and that finally affected me that summer. I could not bare the thought of being around anyone and having them give me dirty looks and making me feel like trash. (The bullying story is for another post.)  So I closed off and made it clear I did not want to go anywhere, oh that was not as easy as I thought it would be. My mom was not having it, she made me go to the mall or downtown with her, even though I rather wanted to stay inside and play Sims all day. This continued for at least closed to 2 years. Although the bullying got quite bad in my last year of middle school, somehow I was not experiencing any anxiety. I was still very much depressed though and felt alone. I remember being able to speak in front of my whole school as one of the candidates for the student council.  But there was still something that felt bad. I cried everyday at school and at home. My depression got so bad that at a point when I was home alone I just stood there in the kitchen, contemplating whether I wanted to keep fighting these feelings or to just give up. It got real when I wondered what would be easier to use; the pills in my right hand or the knife in my left hand. This sounds very morbid and awful to speak about, but this is literally how I felt for years. I never harmed myself, but I wanted to make those feelings stop. Something in my mind held me back from potentially taken my own life or hurting myself badly. I couldn`t go through with it so I continued to fight my inner demons, since then it has still been some highs and lows.    

My second experience with anxiety happened at my senior year of high school in the fall of 2013. This year is not something I like to look back on for many reasons. I was not myself, and frankly I don`t even know how I made it through without failing any exams. I felt like a zombie, I didn`t have control over my own body nor mind. It became more and more difficult to hide my true feelings and people began to notice something was off. I just pretended like everything was fine and that I was only tired or anxious about school stuff etc. Some of them bought that lie, but my close friends and family didn`t. There were only a few people that knew what I was really dealing with, this was not something I felt comfortable sharing at the time. The reason for my anxiety and depression at that time was because of my mom being bipolar which I struggled with since 2008, when I just began in 8th grade. No one was bullying me at school or anything, but I was dealing with verbal abuse from my mom and at that time I did not know she was ill, I thought she really meant all the hurtful and mean things she would say and do. This affected me worse than the bullying in middle school and made me become quite cold and reserved. It`s like if the person who is suppose to be your biggest supporter is making you feel like trash then maybe you are? Those were the things I was telling myself for nearly a decade and has damage my relationship with my mom.  Whenever my mom had another one of her explosions and outburst towards me, I ended up with making up excuses so I could stay in my room and to not hang out with friends. It was difficult. When the time is right I would like to tell the full story of having a bipolar mother, but this just is not the time, it felt good to at least say something about it. 

My depression and anxiety has really affected me trying to reach certain goals and accomplishments I have in life. I had to take many breaks while studying, like I was technically suppose to have my Bachelor degree this year, but that did not happen. It`s not like it`s a big deal, but when you see a lot of your former classmates already reached that point of having a degree like you want to, it`s bitter sweet. I first started as a IT student in fall of 2014, but I dropped out 2 months later because I couldn`t see myself working at this field for 50+ years, and my social anxiety was at it worst at that time. Shortly after, I ended up with working as a substitute teacher which helped me find my passion for working with kids, and also slowly becoming more confident with public speaking and being around many people. So in January 2015, I took a class in Pedagogy (Education) and got right back into studying again. I felt confident, but this didn`t last for long. The next year, 2016 became a not so good year for my mental health when I couldn`t focus on my studies. I ended up with skipping lectures, I didn`t want to be on campus. I ended up with talking to a psychiatrist and he helped me realize I needed a gap year and a break from the things that stressed me out. At that time I felt the most comfortable at work and I just wanted to focus on that. This truly helped and I believe it to be the best decision I ever made. I felt a lot more motivated and clear of the things that were important to me when I began studying again this past fall after the long break. I passed all my exams and now as we are beginning to welcome 2018, I feel ready to keep going to reach all of my goals and ambitions for the following year.

Like everyone else I am not perfect, but I am working on myself everyday to become the best version of me. Like Beyonce has an alter ego named Sasha Fierce, I like to call mine "Powerlady" which I`ve talked to my psychiatrist about. Powerlady is the version I strive to be at any field of my life. Sometimes she occurs, especially at work with the many kids I`m surrounded by, basically where and when I am the most confident. I am working on being this version, a sort of 2.0 version of myself. It is not easy, but I am a step closer. I think we all have versions of ourselves we like the best and would probably like to be at most times. It is a challenge of trying to implement it to different social situations, but once you do, you and up boosting your confidence. My journey is not over yet and I know there will be a lot more for me to accomplish in the upcoming years. I still have those few moments were I feel sad and just tired of everything, but it is not close to as bad as it was months and even years ago. I think I`m on the right track on bettering myself. 

This is my story about my mental health, I wanted to write this to start being more open about these issues and struggles we face. It should not be taboo to have an open discussion about something so precious as our mental health. Let`s talk about it at schools, kids need to know how to communicate and to let us know when something isn`t right with their minds and feelings. It`s important to do so instead of dismissing someone just because you can`t physically see their illness. The worst thing you can say to a person dealing with their mental health is to just get over it or that someone has it way worse. That makes a person life like that what they are dealing with is not as important as someone maybe having a more physical illness or a disease. This is a silent illness, a battle with your inner demons. The best thing to do is to be understanding and to show some support, not to bash anyone. 

Do you have your own story? If so I would love to hear about it. 

 

PS: If this resonates with you in any way or you know someone who will then please share. Maybe it can help somebody.. 

Sincerely 

- Sofia Abdule

Published by Sofia Abdule