Being Honest About Your Mental Illness

November 09, 2018

Recovering from depression and anxiety is like going through puberty all over again. It's tough, it's exhausting, it's never ending, it's like high school, pure hell. Mental illness is no joke and although I'm doing much better, my goal isn't to go for "the" cure. My goal is to be able to live healthy and happily alongside my struggles. I was never taught to deal with my feelings, they had to be tucked away for no one to see and having them come out all at once in my twenties has been incredibly overwhelming. It's been a rollercoaster of emotions and a learning lesson not only for me, but also for those around me. Being in recovery has broken relationships, mended some and strengthened others. The relationship that has flourished the most is the one with myself and I couldn't be more proud.

I'm trying and learning new things and I'm actually enjoying it for the first time in my life. Growing up I always felt like I was left behind when it came to everything we did in school. I wasn't a dumb kid but I wasn't smart either. When it comes to my recovery however I'm so incredibly impatient. I want to know and do everything. I finally have started updating my cv, which was about 4 years old and completely untouched since I dropped out of uni. I'm happy that I've wiped off all the dust and it's looking good so far, but I can't quite believe that that nice piece of paper is actually about me. When you have been so used to thinking for years that you have absolutely no value, it's difficult to believe and to see your worth written down in such a manner. I've also been talking about wanting to get my drivers license and attend another language course, like I used to do back when I still lived in Milan.

I'm stoked about my progress but I'm tired of having to respect my boundaries when it comes to my recovery. There are so many things I want to do but my body can't keep up. Almost every single time I commit to something that is mentally demanding I have some sort of hangover either the day after, or soon after. I'm overwhelmed by anxiety, I don't sleep well, I cry, have shortness of breath, headaches and often just fall asleep in the afternoon out of pure exhaustion. When I think about it, it makes me cry because that's not what I want to be doing. Of course, I'll take any of that over being depressed and suicidal - but it's hard anyway because I'm better now - so why can't I just meet people and be fine? Work with people and be fine? See family and be fine? Look fine and be fine? It's almost as if I'm trying to rush to the finish line when I should actually be taking a breather - and then keep on going again.

I realised the other day that the last time I was (almost) in crisis was at the end of January. I haven't felt those raging and desperate feelings ever since - which is a huge milestone for me. It's weird to have changed, to not have all those self-destructive thoughts creeping around in your brain anymore. I guess I've been trying to find a new sense of normal, a new home in my own head. Whereas I used to experience life as something that was black and white, I've been trying to find comfort in the area in between, in the grey zone. I want to refurnish my new space, but haven't found all the right pieces just yet. Ever since I was a little girl, I did not want to live my life. I wanted to die, to disappear, to not have to exist. I was terrified of everything and everyone. I didn't feel at home anywhere and I didn't want to do anything because I thought I wasn't good enough. I wasn't raised or treated like I was good enough. I'm still scared and a little lost but I no longer feel like I'm walking on the edge of a cliff. My pain is finally breathing and there's nothing more rewarding than knowing that I'm healing.

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