Shellbell in the Moment….Denial and Acceptance.
When I first opened up about my battle with depression, and now the occasional battle with anxiety, I was nervous, because that was a side of me most people, including family and friends, did not know. I tried opening up once many years ago to some family, but it was hushed and I was told “we don’t talk about that.” People in my life tried to help me see that it wasn’t something to be ashamed of and that if I continually ignored it, or tried to “handle it” on my own, it could get worse, but I was having none of it. I was fine, I was happy, even when forced, and I wasn’t going to be “one of those people.” I was taught that it is a weakness. It is that backwards thinking that finally lead me to speak up, embrace this mental state of health and get to fixing it.
I have been a user of Social Media for about a decade, in the years before Twitter exploded into what it is now, as well as Facebook and Snapchat. This isn’t a brag though, this is about to make a point very clear. Social Media gives us a platform that allows someone to be who they want to be, good or bad, if they aren’t comfortable being themselves, and for me it was posting the fun stuff, the exciting stuff, things that were enjoyable in my life with my family and friends, so when I finally opened up about my struggles since my teens, people were not only surprised, but shocked. I received messages like, “Oh Shell, not you. it will pass”, or, “But you’re always smiling and happy.” That one I got quite a bit. I opened up on Facebook and only family and friends get accepted to that social media platform, so those responses said quite a bit, because even the majority of them did not know.
I decided to open up during an awful downward spiral in December of 2016. I was contemplating final solutions, I was in a place so dark that even while standing in the light it felt dark, literally. When I look back on those days it feels like looking through a tunnel, but I opened up after a tragedy struck too close to home and I realized if I didn’t get help, I could possibly become a statistic and not the kind that you can fix either, the permanent kind.
My sister talked me into talking to my doctor about my anti-depressants and getting back on them, then a dear friend and my cousin, along with my Sis talked me into therapy and this time I was ready. Therapy won’t work if you are not honest. It won’t work if you don’t put in the hard work. I have blogged about this before, and how therapy broke me into a thousand pieces and how I slowly began to put me back together. I’m still not perfect and I am not striving to be, but being in denial about having depression, became an acceptance and a will to help others who feel stigmatized by whatever form of mental health they suffer from.
Old School thinking will equate depression with weakness, but it is anything but that. It takes more strength to fight this battle than anything I have ever dealt with in my life and now that I am balancing and learning my triggers, it becomes easier to deal with the waves as they come. I have gone from flailing in the ocean of depression to surfing those waves as they arise. Sure, I might wipeout from time to time, but I get back up on that board and just enjoy the ebb and flow until another wave comes along that I have to deal with. (Side note: my therapist loved my metaphors. I always had a different. haha). Accepting depression is what helped me do that.
There are many reasons why we remain in denial. As a single woman, I have thought that it would stigmatize me in a way that no man would want me. I began emotionally eating and now I have to deal with the aftermath of weight gain, but I felt damaged, and spent, and not worthy of someone else’s love, not even my own families and friends’ love. I would push away when people would get to close to me. Trust was a big issue for me. I also didn’t like feeling weak, it made me feel like I couldn’t handle things, and in recent months, I have struggled with the acceptance of anxiety for the same reasons. I am not downplaying it by saying “bouts of anxiety”, because it is just that, another wave to deal with, but fortunately not a consistent one. These are the reasons I opened up a very personal part of my life to the world that sees it, because even if it touches one person, or helps one person, that will mean that it was worth it.
I’m not shy about sharing my personal pains anymore. “Graduating” from therapy was the best moment of my life. I was afraid at first, and it took me awhile to find my footing, in fact, I still trip and stumble, but I was equipped, during those sessions, with the knowledge that I can do this and that every step I take in any direction is my path choice. I may take the long way to get places, but I love myself now, I let my family and friends love me, as much as I love them. I am learning to go have fun completely, and not faking it, and I am reminding myself to be mindful of my triggers, because going back to the darkness is a place I never want to be again. It’s my “Off-Limits” place, like a dangerous mine shaft. Remember, as well, that if you’re not feeling up to something, it is okay to say no, but don’t hide behind it either. Everyone has on and off days, there’s no shame in that and your family and friends need to understand that.
Remember, self-love, self-respect and self-acceptance are important in any healing, and if you need help, please, don’t be afraid to seek it. It takes strength to rise above the opinions of others so that you can take care of your health.
Until the next time here are some warm “hugs”.