Mental Illness

‘Till it happens to you, you won’t know how I feel.

I had a particularly low couple of days, especially after I missed out on a substitute day because I was in the bathroom. Lesson learned, take your phone with you EVERYWHERE you go! Take note fresh substitutes. Even if you’re showering, take that bad boy with you. I know I will later.

Yesterday was an extremely hard day, both with a combination of my depression and anxiety. Somedays it is easy to fight the negative thoughts. Other times, like yesterday, I couldn’t. Even cleaning mine and Zack’s house didn’t help. I remember I was sweeping the floors and I just had to stop. I just sat on the step to our living room and let my mind go into a frenzy. Usually on days like this my anxiety takes over and I have crippling thoughts that throw me into a panic attack.

But not this time. This time my thoughts were more depressive, more dark. I remember sitting there and thinking, do I really want to be a teacher? (This was after I missed that damn phone call). Or do I have the strength to be a teacher? I know I end up missing a lot of work days with my illness and if I start to go into a panic attack I have no choice but to go home. If the panic becomes to unbearable I have no choice but to take my pills and then I become a hazy zombie for the rest of the day. So, I mulled over being a teacher. Whether this is the right profession for me? Should I do something else with my life? What if I spent all this money (Hello Student Loans!) and realized I’m not in the right profession.

Then the thoughts turned darker and I thought, what if I never find something that brings be that extraordinary joy, even on the bad days. I see Zack come home from work as a car salesman, and even on days customers tells him to shove it, he still comes home with a big smile on his face; excited and anxious to tell me all about his day. What if I never find a job that brings me that much joy? I know my ultimate goal in life is to become a published author, and believe me I’m working my ass off to try to become one, but what if I’m not successful? What will I have then if I have no other dreams left?

And that is just a taste of what my bad days can look like. Yesterday I was lucky because I didn’t have a panic attack. I didn’t need to take any pills to calm my heart. That is a success in my books. But while the anxiety is hard, I find the days with dark, haunting thoughts the hardest. It’s easy for anyone to beat themselves down. Add a mental illness on top of that and it feels like your fighting a world war, where your fighting yourself and there is no winner.

Those days are the hardest.

At least the Blue Jays won right? (Go Batista!)

Despite still being in a gloom when I woke up this morning, I mentally kicked myself to pull myself out of bed. I knew if I had three bad days in a row I would have to pay for it, in the form of night terrors or another depressive episode. Both I dread facing.

So I finished cleaning the house, blaring my iTunes playlist on full blast (Sorry apartment tentant that lives downstairs) and I cleaned. When I found the dark thoughts creeping into my head, I blared an Aqua song or some dance anthem and threw myself around the living room, yelling the lyrics. (It works sometimes!).

So as I sit here in the living room, waiting for the floors to dry so I can cook supper, I’d thought I write a blog post. (You’re Welcome.)

Even when the bad days are bad, I know there are good days around the corner. And today wasn’t too bad. Zack came home to visit me for lunch, I had snuggles with my cat, and I even ate lunch (something I rarely do). Today was a good day. And I’m going to see “The Martian” later so I’m excited for that.

That’s why I love the quote (my life mantra): “Take a deep breath. It’s just a bad day, not a bad life.” When I look at how far I have come in the last four years, I feel unbelievable. Four years ago I was having panic attacks two-to-three times a day. Now I have one, maybe two, panic attacks a month. Milestones. While my depressive episodes are unpredictable, much like my panic attacks, I know they are becoming few and far between as well. Four years ago you wouldn’t catch me dead celebrating getting through a few bad days on my own. Instead, I would have curled up in bed, shut the blinds, and let the darkness take over.

Yesterday was just a bad day.

It’s not a bad life.

So for those of you out there who are going through what I am, believe me, it does get better. It’s just a slow progress. Everyone deals with their own issues differently, but I know you will eventually overcome your darkness too. Just take a deep breath and find away to combat the darkness.

To those who have never had a mental illness (which I would never wish on anyone, not even my worst enemy), or have never know anyone who has it, take heed. Like’s Lady Gaga’s new, powerful song states: “Until it happens to you, you won’t know how I feel.” And that’s the brutal honest truth. Do me a favour, and many others who feel the same way, don’t pretend to understand it. And don’t just simply say “Things will get better in time.” It’s not that simple. There’s more to it. If you want to offer comfort to someone like me, especially on my bad days, just be a presence in my life. Don’t turn your back on me. The biggest and most powerful thing you could do to support a person with mental illness is to just LISTEN. Even if you don’t understand it or can’t offer words of wisdom, still just listen. Sometimes we need to rant just to get the anxiety out of chests and the dark thoughts out of our minds. Just listen. It means everything.

Yesterday was just a bad life.

I have a very good life.

Until next time,

-Amanda

#fightingthegoodfight #sicknotweak

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