I was de-cluttering my bedroom and I stumbled across a notepad. Naturally, I flicked through it. It was essentially untouched, but then I discovered a page congested with a sea of blue ink in the form of my swirly handwriting. Upon the initial glance, it could have been an old essay. My attention was instantly drawn to the shortage of punctuations. I could only observe commas and a lot of them; the lettering was simply a very lengthy list. The list began with ‘forgetting to breathe by subconsciously holding my breath’ and concluded with ‘strong desires to alter appearance’. But it wasn’t truly conclusive, as if this list could have gone on interminably.
It wasn’t necessary to read the entire page for me to apprehend what it was; a list of the symptoms I encounter when my mental health is weak, and the behavioral modifications I endure when anxiety draws out the worst in me. Behaviors that I am not proud of.
Depression and anxiety disorders are so prevalent in the present day and there is still not enough action being taken. There is still a lack of discussion. When it is spoken about, notably on social platforms, mental health issues are regularly romanticized. Nobody aspires to depict themselves in means that could make them susceptible to a negative commentary because regretfully, this can’t be escaped.
The generic symptoms of anxiety are widely lectured, as they should be, but it’s rare for someone to publicly plunge themselves into the gritty mess that comes as collateral damage of mood disorders. We are all affected differently and it can be ugly.
On this piece of paper, I mention physical symptoms such as picking at my nails and rubbing my eyes.
I suggest physiological indications such as ‘heavy physical pressure in my upper body’ and ‘low energy’.
I describe emotional signs like being ‘excessively insecure’ and ‘tearful’.
But how about being ‘needy and attention-seeking’? ‘Snappy and sarcastic’? ‘Defensive?’ ‘Manipulative?’ Do we talk about how we can blame others for our own insecurities?
Not enough, because it does not look admirable.
The truth is, people with mental health disorders are not always easy to be around and this can be difficult to admit. It’s essential that we do.
I know my heart is solid gold. At my best, I am loving, warm, compassionate and selfless. I admire who I am. But this isn’t sustainable 24/7 because I am a human who has bad days and I make mistakes. I have flaws, I possess a lot of them. Yet I have enough confidence in who I am despite my imperfect personality to admit what needs work without letting it define me; I’m merely a good person who is trying to become a better one.
I don’t recollect when I wrote this list or why, but it stung like nettles to read. The piece consists of hard truths that even now I struggle to approach.
Although I can only try to imagine what happened that day, I am proud of the girl with the blue pen. The writing is riddled with a sense of regret as if on that very day, l had permitted my anxieties to consume me and I acted irresponsibly and out of character. The paper is infested with self-awareness and a desire for growth.
So on that note, I have some advice that may apply to all, despite whether your mental health has burdened your mind and soul; If you avoid conjuring up your weaknesses you will hinder your growth. We all have problems and characteristics that we can improve on. We are often so prompt in labeling another person as toxic, yet our pride obstructs us before we would recognize and apologize for our own toxic traits. We all have them.
There is great strength in loving yourself, but there is admirable strength in acknowledging your faults, actively working on them, and loving yourself in spite of it all.