I saw my first therapist when I was 9 years old. I didn’t want to. My mom pretty much had to drag me there. It was right after my parents told me that they were getting divorced. I guess at this point, I had been fed up with bottling everything inside and started to act out. I’ve always had anxiety since as far back as I can remember. When I was 4, I would climb into my brothers crib at night just to feel as if I wasn’t alone. I didn’t have the easiest childhood, but people had it worse than I did. Therapists told me that I was predisposed to anxiety and depression given my genetics. It doesn’t really make you feel better or help you cope.
Anxiety is something that has always been present in my life. I’ve always been anxious and feeling as if I can’t help myself. The easiest way for me to describe it is that someone is sitting on your chest, and you’re stuck. And you can’t relieve that feeling no matter how hard you try. The worst part is, there really is no reason for this feeling. It’s just there.
I had my first depressive episode after I retired from gymnastics. I would say it was more of a downswing. I was about 17 years old And I wasn’t making the best choices. I was always very responsible, but I guess you could say I was trying to fill a void That really wasn’t there. I had gone this long without a depressive state because gymnastics distracted me from how depressed I really was. I had an outlet to avoid addressing the emptiness that I felt inside. In a matter of seconds that outlet was stripped from me And I had to figure out how to cope. As if being a teenage girl wasn’t hard enough.
When I was in college, my anxiety got so bad I couldn’t function. It was causing my depression to spiral because I felt so alone and so distant from everyone else. No one understood what I was going through. The stigma around mental health was still there. “Oh, you’re being dramatic.” “Why don’t you just relax.” “You need to stop worrying.”
These are statements I constantly heard whenever I tried to express myself. I decided to make a decision. For myself, and for others like me. I put myself back in therapy, voluntarily, as an adult.
For me, making this decision was the first step in learning how to cope. Along with my therapist I was able to find new outlets to manage my anxiety and depression. At this point, it was purely therapy I was using to cope. honestly, therapy is great. You can talk about literally anything, anyone, and they cannot say a word! Some sessions were pretty intense, I would cry the entire time, possibly not go to work after because I was so drained. And others I felt empowered, and ready to conquer whatever was ahead of me.
I still wasn’t cured, I was maintaining, which at this point in my life was fine.
Everyone identifies their own traumatic experiences. A traumatic experience for one may not be a traumatic experience for another. You cannot compare and contrast trauma. I’ve had multiple traumas in my lifetime, all of which I have addressed through therapy. However, about 2 years ago something happened in my life that pushed me further into depression than I had ever been before. After this event I maintained for about 6 months by going to therapy and choosing how I wanted this next chapter in my life to be.
April 2018, I had hit the lowest point in my life. When you get to that point, it often feels like you don’t have a choice and I almost didn’t. I sat on my bedroom floor, contemplating whether or not it would be easier I wasn’t here. I didn’t want to continue; I didn’t feel as if I had the strength to or if anyone wanted me here. I just wanted the pain I was feeling to end.
While I was sitting there crying, my cat Mogli came over and sat on my lap, snuggled in – purring away and staring at me with so much love. He was just so happy I was late to work so I could snuggle him more. I’m sitting here, deciding if and how I am going to end my life, and this little fluff has his own idea how this morning is going to go. I called my mom.
I asked for help. I straight up told my mother what I was feeling and that I needed help, and that’s exactly what she did. It has been over a year from that moment and I have been on medication to regulate my anxiety and depression since then. I have never felt better. Yes, my cat at that moment showed me I was loved, but it also made me think. So many people commit suicide every day and are successful because no one is there to help them. They don’t have a little reminder that someone (or something) cares and why they are here. Mogli may think I am only here to feed and snuggle him, I mean let’s be honest – that’s pretty much why.
Our society makes it seem as if something is wrong with you if you have to ask for help. Having a mental illness does not make you less than anyone else. It does not make you a burden, it does not make you weak. It is okay to be in therapy or on proper medication under the supervision of a medical professional. Sometimes it is temporary, sometimes it is a life-long solution, BUT EITHER WAY IT IS OKAY. There is help out there in many different varieties – one that will fit your needs. There are people that care, there are ways to cope. You never know what someone is going through. If you need help, I’m here. If you need advice, I’m here. No judgment, I promise.