Mental Health Awareness Month: My Story

I was aiming to write and schedule this blog post this past weekend, but instead, I am just getting to it (it is Wednesday). My goal was to publish the blog posts related to mental health on Monday through Wednesday of this week. When Sunday night came, I realized we would not publish them back to back as I hoped, which was okay. I was fine with spreading them out and publishing each one on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

On Tuesday night, I began to worry. I was concerned I would not be able to write and share my story from the heart. Every time I worked on my blog post, I would type then delete every word I would come up with. I could not find my spark and struggled to write from the heart.

Whenever I came up with the idea of including my sister’s input for Mental Health Awareness Month, I had no idea what to expect at the end of this. My main focus was to share a good message around this topic and raise awareness on the realities of mental health. My heart was not prepared for the messages I would receive from some of you. This morning, after reading a message, I balled my eyes out. I had just finished editing my sister’s blog post and sent it back for her review. I was a mess of emotions for a few reasons. The main reason was, I was frustrated with myself because my deadline to write my post was quickly approaching and still had nothing. However, after reading this morning’s message, I had an epiphany.

On Tuesday evening, I had lost my confidence in writing an engaging post. I was questioning everything – my blog, the purpose of my blog, the purpose of this week’s topic, etc. It was a moment of weakness. I was overwhelmed with personal stuff and was not sure if I could handle one more thing going wrong. Long story short, this particular message answered every question I had. Furthermore, after my sister’s blog post went live, we were both overwhelmed with the outpouring support from our family, friends, and community. Once again, I was reminded of the reason why I chose to raise awareness on mental health. This week would have not been possible without my sister. Mayra – you are an outstanding and extraordinary person. Thank you for your beautiful insight. Thank you for sharing something so personal, you have touched hundreds (yes, you read that correctly) of people. I could not have done this without you.

That being said, as promised, here is my story.

My battle with feeling like I did not belong in this world started when I was just a little girl. My biological parents separated before I was born, and growing up, I felt there was an ongoing battle between them. If you are a parent, wise up because kids know everything. I did not know the details about their past and had no desire in knowing them. I still do not. Anyway, this emotional pain stemmed all of the questions for my existence. I am choosing not to go into details because I am not prepared to do so. What I will say is, my childhood issues rolled over into adolescence and adulthood. In high school, after a series of events, I did a complete 180 and changed my life around. During a church retreat, we wrote letters describing our pain, burdens, and things that were unbearable to speak about. I poured my heart and soul into this letter not knowing what would happen next. The church leaders asked everyone attending the retreat to follow them outside. We were instructed to throw our letters into a fire pit to signify the ending of an era. I followed suit and felt immediate relief. The weight was lifted off my shoulders. I also felt a tremendous amount of peace and love; a sigh of relief I had not felt during my sixteen years of life at the time.

Needless to say, my relationship with God grew even stronger. Throughout my entire life, He was The One I always had tough conversations with. I challenged Him with a lot of questions. Looking back now, I felt sorry for myself and demanded answers from Him. I knew my place in this world when I came to the realization I had a purpose. I stopped the self-pity and took charge of my life. After the church retreat, I had a strong desire to become something greater. My ambition, drive, and determination was out of this world. I took all of the steps necessary to be where I am today. My story is still being written, but as my journey continues to unfold, I will be open to sharing more about my vision and mission.

Learning to deal with depression at such a young age amazes me. I owe everything to God. He rescued me, He really is The One who saved me. This explains my love for Him and devotion to Him. I will never take all of the credit for the accomplishments in my life. I am grateful for my encounter with Him at such a young age. Because of this early encounter, I have been able to face other difficulties with grace. For example, the anxieties that came with adulthood.

Everyone experiences anxiety occasionally. You may be a nervous test-taker, presenter, etc. However, if you face anxiety for a long period of time and it interferes with your daily life, then you know it is time to make some changes. I will link an overview of anxiety disorders here.

A couple of years ago, my anxiety persisted for more than a few months and took over my life. I was on a worrying spree. I had trouble sleeping, concentrating, and eating. I knew I had to regain control of my thoughts before other disorders developed. I was wrapped up in a cycle I knew I needed to break. I began the process by doing the following things:

  • Listened to personal development podcasts and put into practice the advice given
  • Listened to worship music
  • Read the Bible and spiritual books
  • Journaled thoughts and emotions
  • Called my parents regularly
  • Listened to Drake
  • Attended yoga and group exercise
  • Ran outside
  • Met up with girlfriends
  • Saw a therapist

All of the things mentioned above, pumped me to life again. Slowly but surely, I was sleeping normal, concentrating, and eating well again. One of the major lessons I have learned in my 20s is understanding the importance of putting myself first. My faith, physical, and mental health, must be in check before anything else. In addition to some of the things listed above, here are current priorities:

  • Saying a prayer in the morning and nighttime
  • Staying in a constant state of gratitude – giving thanks for even the smallest gestures
  • Going to the gym
  • Cooking and eating healthy foods
  • Drinking lots of water
  • Spending time with family and friends
  • Going to church

At this moment, I am not seeing a therapist but would not be opposed to seeing one even when everything seems okay. Personally, I strongly believe in the importance of being interested in yourself. Be curious about every idea, belief, and value you have. Every idea, belief, value, fear, dream, phobia, etc. has a root. You can discover more about yourself with the help of a therapist or counselor. It is not necessary but it definitely helped me. Because of my past therapist, I have a better understanding of why. You can begin this process at home too. Ask ‘Why?’ at least five times in order to get to the root of things. I think you will find some answers.

If you are battling a mental illness, evaluate and determine the best route for your recovery. For a general overview of mental illnesses and various resources, you can click here. I want you to know you are NOT alone. You are strong and hold the willpower to overcome any obstacle. I believe in you.

If you find yourself in a place where you will try to tackle whatever it is you are going through on your own, I hope the things mentioned above give you ideas on how to begin taking those first steps. Focus on creating sustainable and healthy lifestyle habits. Make permanent life changes that will eventually become a part of your identity. Do not be afraid to experiment with different ideas. Remember, it is a trial and error process. Also, tell at least one person about what you are going through. It could be your significant other, best friend, mom, dad, sister, brother, etc. Learning from my sister’s experience, the support of loved ones can make a huge difference.

I had no idea how I would begin sharing my story, but as always, God’s timing is perfect. He knew exactly what needed to occur first in order to ignite my soul and pour my heart into creating this post. I feel extremely blessed to have a platform to talk about the tough stuff. I want you to know how thankful I am for you. Seriously, thank you three thousand.

If you feel the need to reach out, please never hesitate to do so. I love connecting and engaging on a deeper level.

If you are in a crisis and require immediate intervention, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24/7.

2 thoughts on “Mental Health Awareness Month: My Story

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! You did it so beautifully. I also have a passion in mental health and I currently am a supervisor at a mental health clinic so this is something near and dear to my heart.

    1. Aww, thank you, Elizabeth! I think mental health is something we shouldn’t be afraid to speak about. I am trying to break down stigmas around it by spreading awareness, sharing my story, and how I overcame my battle with depression. And how amazing that you actually work at a clinic making a direct impact!

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