I'm going to be doing some talking about mental illness on this blog because it effects me and a lot of the people I love. I've heard that my generation suffers from more reported cases of anxiety and depression than any other before us. That might be because psychology is a relatively new field, but still, that's a lot of anxiety and depression.
When I was 16, I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Dysphoric Disorder (mild to moderate depression for a period of a year or more). With therapy and medication, I was able to kick a lot of bad psychological habits, and pretty much overcome my depression. I still have issues with anxiety that regularly affect my life, and of course I still get depressed sometimes, though not often.
The hardest part about my anxiety has been accepting that it will always be a part of my life. It's like a ball and chain that's permanently shackled to my legs, holding me back from things that would be easy for other people. I can do things to strengthen my legs, but getting over those hurdles is going to be tough no matter what.
There's a mentality in our culture that we should be able to just overcome whatever mental illness or issue we might have, as though my anxiety disorder can be cured with some positive thinking and maybe exposure to things that scare me. But the only thing this mentality has gotten me is a lot of frustration and self-loathing. I'm constantly struggling with a cycle of anxiety, where I feel anxious about something, then I feel frustrated that I'm feeling anxious again (and often feel like it's something I shouldn't be anxious about), ignore and/or suppress the feeling, start having insomnia and/or getting really tense and experiencing headaches and other pains, then feel more anxious because I feel like my anxiety is getting worse, plus often depression and self-hatred because it seems like I will never be able to get better.
This cycle will continue, spiraling downward until I finally start doing something about it. And that something is NOT simply exercise or eating right or some combination of vitamins. Those things may help a little, but they are not a cure. Trust me. I've been disappointed time and time again by remedies suggested by people who don't have anxiety.
The only thing that works is practicing self-love and acceptance. Acceptance of my mental illness. That it's not my fault that I get anxious over little things. It's okay, and I don't need to be "cured" to be happy. I'm not bad for feeling anxious. I'm not bad if I backslide into the anxiety cycle again. I'm not bad if I can't sleep at night because my mind and heart won't stop racing. I'm not bad if I get anxious over little things like calling the Thai food place or getting to a casual social event on time. That's just the way my brain operates. I have an illness, it's not my fault, and there's nothing wrong with that.
I guess this post was inspired by today's featured Tumblr blog. I want to let everyone know about my illness and how it works, but I also want to reach out to those who experience the same thing. I believe you have an anxiety disorder. I believe you when you say it's hard just to call people or go outside. I believe that every day is a battle for you. I believe you when you say you can't, and that you're not just being lazy or weak. I believe you're stronger than most people, because you manage to get through the day with that ball and chain on your legs.
And it's not your fault. You didn't put that ball and chain there. You didn't do anything wrong.
Anyone who wants to talk about their anxiety or any other mental illness will find support here. I don't have formal training, but I will always be here to remind you that I believe you and it's not your fault. You are still an awesome person, mental illness and all.