Monday, October 10, 2016

world mental health day

(that cat and those flowers are what dreams are made of)

inspired by my favorite blogger, meg.
and because of world mental health day --

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i'm big on apologies over here on the blog -- partly because of my own awkwardness and partly because of insecurity. 

going into this post, however, i'd like to not apologize for how it might read. i don't want to feel the need to justify myself, or add a cherry on top for the sake of lightening the mood. i also don't feel as if this has to be a depressing conversation. important, yes. some times saddening, of course. but negative or even depressing? i don't believe so.

on many occasions i have alluded to difficulties in my life in regards to my mentality. i've had this blog for so long that i honestly can't recall how far in depth i've gone on the topic. but, here it goes (again?) --

today is world mental health day. 

i don't quite know what "national" and "world" days usually entail, other than a hashtag --
though on my little blog (and i'm certain in other contexts), world mental health day means that i want to talk about something that especially matters to me.

i'm like most people -- i get anxious, fidgety, down and out.

but in another sense, i go beyond just the feeling of nervousness and restlessness and sadness.

so much so that i have to daily choose how i want to feel. some days this is easier than others.

so much so that i oftentimes can't find the words to describe how i feel.
and those watching closely see it all come over me like a wave that they cannot stop. 

and i see them closely. i see the uncertainty in their eyes, how they wonder how to deal with me and this. how they wonder what to say. and that point when they're at a loss. that's when i know i've pulled too deep and far away.

i used to be very afraid of myself. so afraid that i would actually bring myself to tears. as if 
the idea of me was a monster all her own.

i was petrified of growing up and still feeling this way.

now i am grown -- not fully, but enough.

i'm at the age that i used to be so afraid of.

the well and funny thing is that i'm still here. 

i'm somewhat normal -- save for some quirks and a whole lot of imperfections.
i don't have much figured out, and i've been told that i will "deal" with my issues for 
the rest of my life.

in the grand scheme of things, these issues don't have to be defining points. they're valid, and perhaps forever. but they don't have to lord over me -- which is what i believe was so fear inducing years ago.

i didn't realize that light works like a half way point. i learned to open my eyes a little wider and little by little a dim would come my way through this corridor of life, and hope came right along with it.

i also didn't realize that i could come to a place of seeing myself from outside of the confinement of my mind. i usually describe the depression part of my life as a glass box. i'm in the box, watching life happen all around and i want to get out. i want to join everyone else. they see me, and i see them. but there is this wall that i try so hard to break through.

most times i do break it. some seasons the shattering just takes a bit longer than others.

moving to los angeles has been daunting for so many reasons, though one of those reasons is a quieter one: that fear of being by myself;

officially on my own;

alone with my thoughts for periods of time;

impending rejection with the potential to be a trigger for more insecurity, anxiety, etc.

though i'm learning that in life there is always the possibility of something going so terribly wrong, which is why all the good in life continues to exist and contrast anything and everything else.

we go to bed after a horrible day, not fearful of tomorrow but eager to meet it, and confident that it will be better.


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in my therapist's office, a few weeks back, my depression was brought up -- not by me, by her. 

immediately i felt myself close up. i still haven't quite dealt with how to talk about it face-to-face. this is partly because of my lack of vocabulary with the subject when it comes to actually speaking -- for so long i just didn't talk about it. i wrote about it. but words rely so heavily on context and presentation. 

and, also, i feel like a fraud.

feeling like a fraud when it comes to one's own well being and mental state and feeling and emotion and experience is awful, really.

so, i told my therapist that regardless of knowing deep down what i have and am and will struggle with, i don't feel as if i have the right to claim it for myself.

then she told me that in spite of patterns and symptoms, every person ultimately deals with mental illness and mental health in a unique way.

she assured me that my way is neither right nor wrong. 

she told me that becoming acquainted with this part of myself was beneficial. i realize that this is not for the sake of living with depression and anxiety, but rather living beyond it/both.

more and more i know what makes me feel certain ways.
i know what starts and what follows.

i'm familiar with the aches and appetites and haze of it all.

though as i am getting older, rather than fearing myself, i'm learning to love myself more.

i'm learning to face the scariest part of myself with the intent to learn how to tend me, not to it.

by placing myself first every day, and being intentional about life and about even my smallest choices (remember: small achievements), i've found that i can combat a whole heap of what usually feels like the weight of the world, or the glass box i find myself frequently placed within.

so, the things that aid my mental well being include, but are not limited to:

anthropologie candles; lists; crossing items off of lists; films; fresh flowers; fresh greenery; baking a cake; the color yellow; writing; writing every day; literature; taking pictures of those i love; step by vampire weekend on repeat; visits to berkeley; strolling through san francisco; waking early; foggy mornings; stretching; breathing exercises; sleeping with my windows open; chopping fresh fruit; frozen peanut butter m&ms; organizing; any sort of paper; evening walks; city skylines; any time in a coffee shop; iced coffees; hand written letters; phone calls; decorating and rearranging my room; scripture; a good therapist; parking my car somewhere comfortable; photos from architectural digest; white noise on my phone; funeral canticle by john tavener; the voices of those i love most.

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regardless of whether world mental health day is relevant to you, i believe it's important to observe what makes one's own self feel comforted, beautiful, loved, full, joyful.

these things help me feel grounded.
they are a source of joy, no matter how odd or particular.

and, i must say that when i first began to wrestle with depression and anxiety, i couldn't have listed so many items.

it's important for me to have an anchored perspective on my own life, on simple things, for those stormy days.

having even one thing to hold fast to is validation enough of joy,
validation enough of comfort,
and validation that i am not alone.

my life can be about more.

i hope that others can feel hope as well, 
not just this evening, but tomorrow, too.


-M

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