To Thyself Be True... World Mental Health Awareness Day / by Lauren Rascoe

Photo By  Maxine Wallace

I’m sharing this on World Mental Health Awareness Day, because I woke up with no desire to get out of my bed, today. There was a huge heavy cloud over my head and I couldn’t shake my feelings of sadness.

I cried myself to sleep the night before and couldn’t explain where my tears came from. I felt really small and inadequate and even when my alarm woke me, tears graced my face once more. I was more than tired, but I know I had to shake the feelings so I could get my day started and carry out the tasks I knew this day had in front of me.

Unfortunately, this happens more than I like to admit. I’ve never once been diagnosed, but in many ways I feel as if I suffer from episodes of anxiety and depression. I wonder majority of the time if I’m just being overly dramatic, but on days like today, I recognize that I’ve got to embrace how I feel in order to determine what’s actually wrong. Some days I carry my weight better and on other days — I seclude into a shell wishing I could be unbothered. But today, I felt led to write, so I’m going to share what’s been looming in my mind.

In many ways, the things I’m about to share could be considered my toxic behaviors. Some of you may think, I’m tripping…PMSing maybe. Others of you may be able to empathize. But I’m not writing this for any type of reaction. I’m writing it because I needed to get my thoughts out and maybe help someone else who finds themselves in the same boat. I want you to know you’re not alone.

Three years ago, my adulting journey really began. I started at my full-time big girl job, moved back home and have been tirelessly trying to rediscover myself. I’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, and changed a lot. I’ve experienced so many different things in such a short amount of time, it feels like I’ve been at this adulting thing forever; struggling to get a handle on what life has been offering me. But in reflection, I’ve managed life in the the best way I can and I’m not doing terrible for myself. Although there is always room for improvement and simpler ways to approach what I face, I have to acknowledge that despite what I may feel in my heart and in my head — I’m doing okay. And it’s okay, that it’s just okay and not great because in our 20’s, nobody has it all together.

A few weeks ago, I felt like I was at a really, really low point. One of the many over the years, where I’ve felt like I was being humbled by God and in a darkness that still required I shine my light despite I was going through. The epitome of navigating life’s hills and valleys. The reality is that both the uphill climb and the dark places are both difficult spaces to be in. Both require work, determination, effort, consistency, desire, and motivation to keep moving forward; even if forward is only one small step at a time. Either way, both spaces require you to trust the process.

Now, I must confess, my biggest struggle is trusting the process while letting life happen for me and not to me. And if there is anything that makes me the most uncomfortable about journeying through life — it is certainly the unknown. It is a terrifying space for me because it feels like it opens up an opportunity for me to be victimized by life. And I hate to be the victim. I hate to be blindsided. I hate feeling like I can’t be on top of whatever life throws at me, because being the victim feels like defeat. And I don’t want anyone or anything to make a victim out of me. It’s the idea that if I know better, then I’ll do better and I won’t have to make any excuses for myself, because I had it all together. Essentially always having a back up plan for the back up plan. I attribute this way of thinking to my security in being a strong, independent woman who has it all under control. The girl who never lets you see her sweat. As dangerous of a mindset that I know this can be, it’s a comfort zone that I retreat to.

These are the walls I hide behind often.

These are the walls I’m hiding behind now. It’s paralyzing sometimes. It can be incredibly lonely. And a lot of the time, I’m not okay. But hold on to the hope that I’m going to be okay.

Behind these walls, I am terribly my worst critic. Self-doubt finds its ways through the cracks and plagues my mind. My confidence wanes from time to time, because I’m unsure if I’m really all I talk myself up to be. Can I live up to the expectations that my life and opportunity has created for me. I often wonder how long it will take people to recognize I’m “a fraud.” That I really don’t know what I’m out here doing and discover I’m just winging it a majority of the time. Hoping that whatever goes up will come down better than when I tossed it up. A lot of times, that concept alone feels silly. I’ve found my value in what I’ve been able to accomplish and in my ability to succeed. So much so, that sometimes I allow the success to define my identity, overshadowing the core of what really makes me, me.

I judge myself for feeling. Which is extremely problematic because I feel everything; deeply. My relationship with expressing my emotions is skewed, due to traumatic losses and feelings of not being accepted and received. It’s recently been identified that this is a fear of abandonment. I battle consistently with the need to be transparent in how I feel, while at the same time not making others feel uncomfortable because how I feel can sometimes be too much. So I hold it all in. And I worry about being a lot. I haven’t quite found a balance for this deep appreciation life has developed in me for the little things. My sentiments can sometimes be viewed as over bearing. Therefore, I am always anxious to navigate areas of love and friendship or letting people get real close to me out of fear that they won’t like what they see and leave. It’s happened enough before that I have a tendency to steer clear of the dating scene because I expect people (especially men) to leave me, so it’s just easier for my heart and emotions to be alone. Even though the whole world knows I’m this hopeless romantic and the idea of love to me is everything. Paradoxically, I’m so here for it.

I find myself these days really overprotective of my energy. So much so, that I distance myself from people and become disengaged. In many ways you could say that this is how I run or retreat from things. Sometimes the smallest trigger can set this act off that makes me wish that I could be alone or it’s simply that I’ve overextended my social battery and I am in desperation to go back into hiding. It’s something that I’m working on, but I haven’t quite mastered.

In a lot of ways, I feel extremely complicated. But it doesn’t usually take much to make me smile. I’m working on myself in ways that I didn’t really know were issues until they were pointed out to me. For instance, I had a habit of finding my worth in my accomplishments. My accomplishments morphed somewhat into my identity. So much so that success became an addiction. And failure, an attack on my self-esteem. Busy-ness became my norm and idleness feels like complacency. Just like a lot of young people today, I struggle with comparison due to what’s happening in the world around me. Am I doing enough? Am I trying hard enough? Will I make it? And what’s my purpose and how will I know that I’ve made it? Social media doesn’t make these feelings any easier to deal with, but I deal in the best ways I know how.

To be honest, as I’m trying to wrap this up, I don’t really know what I’m trying to say or prove, but it’s important to be in tune with you. To be honest with yourself about your feelings and allow yourself to take the best care of you. It’s tough, sometimes, but you gotta see yourself through. If you find your struggles too much to bear, talk to someone. You’re not crazy and you don’t have to do it alone. Therapy is GREAT, if that’s something that you feel you’d like to do.

Nothing is impossible to get through. Life is hard. Point, blank, period. We’re all going through something. Big and mall. You’re not the only one dealing with something and whatever your something is, you don’t have to deal with your something alone.

If you or someone you know is going through something, don’t hesitate to reach out to someone. We can all do something to help. The Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.