I struggle with anxiety & depression. It has taken me a long time to not only come to terms with this, but to also not feel ashamed of it. Learning that nearly 1 in 25 adults lives with a serious mental illness (https://www.nami.org/nami/media/nami-media/infographics/generalmhfacts.pdf) was a wake up call. Once I accepted my diagnosis & started treatment, the shame shifted. What sprouted in its place? A realization that I could share my struggles and build a community where we celebrate our good days, discuss treatment options, and always remind one another that we are more than our mental illness. #RemoveTheStigma
For me, it was always there. The symptoms. The behaviors. The fear. It was always underneath the surface. I would go through my days, feeling awful, having this heaviness which suffocated me. I didn’t know what it was, exactly... but I knew it was killing me & my spirit. It was easier to ignore it... neglect the cries for help from my body and mind. I wasn't ready to admit that I was suffering. My reaction was always, “Who me?” Sick? Nope. Tired? Nope. As a husband and father, I didn’t feel I could stop... I had to keep going... pushing those feelings down. Until I couldn’t anymore. I woke up one morning and felt the worst I had ever felt in my entire life. I was the most anxious and overwhelmed I had ever been. I went to see my doctor.
After a long talk and multiple tests to rule out medical conditions — I was diagnosed with depression & anxiety. I was sleep deprived. I was exhausted. I was sad. I was confused. My doctor told me to take a week off from work, she prescribed medication to help me relax and get some sleep. I listened. I reached out to my therapist. I have a supportive wife & family. I shared my diagnosis with them. They understood. I’m lucky — I know not everyone has that. I’m a long way from recovery... but every day I wake up. Some days are better. Some are really hard. But I’m here & I’m doing the best I can.
Who me? Yes. Me.