Because I grew up with the label of shy instead of anxious, there are a lot of things I didn’t realize I do because of anxiety, and no one ever recognized them as anxious behaviors. It took me reading about them somewhere else or hearing someone else say them for the lightbulb to go off.
Recovering from Mental Illness
This year will be seven years since my cat died, and I’m still not over the pet loss. My cat was a part of my life for 17 years, and it doesn’t seem big enough an expression to describe her death as something that rocked me. Will I ever get over it? I have no idea, but I’ll highlight a couple of reasons preventing me from getting over the loss of my pet.
Do you know that saying that other people’s opinions of you are none of your business? As much as I try to keep that in my head, that’s easier said than followed, and other people's perceptions of me trigger negative thoughts.
Advocacy burnout is a real thing. I once thought of mental health advocacy as a vital component of my recovery process. Being able to speak about things I’d kept silent for so long—depression, anxiety, excoriation (skin-picking) disorder—was freeing. It allowed me to find communities of people who understood and empathized instead of downplaying and stigmatizing what I felt. I would never have imagined I’d get burnout from mental health advocacy, but, truthfully, that’s where I’m at.
I think about diagnosis a lot—mostly because I live with undiagnosed mental illnesses. Even as a child, I never received any diagnosis for the struggles I faced, and, as an adult, all my diagnoses are self-diagnosed. I know there’s a lot of stigma attached to self-diagnosis, but I want to discuss self-diagnosis, being undiagnosed with mental illness, and their roles in recovery.
I’ve never described it in these terms, but I hacked my skin-picking disorder. Excoriation disorder used to control every aspect of my life—physically and emotionally—and I was certain I’d suffer forever. Today, I can share with you that this is far from reality. I might have skin picking disorder, but it doesn’t have me.
Have you ever had a moment that makes you question every bit of recovery you’ve achieved to that point? I have—recently, I questioned my skin picking recovery.
I’ve always been the kind of person that gets anxious about taking mental health days off work. Some of that, I think, is due to the lingering stigma in society that it’s not a valid reason to take a day off, but I’m here to say let’s ditch that. Let’s ditch the guilt of taking a day for our mental health and ditch feeling guilty about how we spend it.
Have you ever considered a mental health self-care tip and thought, "That’s not for me?" I know I have. Those kinds of tips used to make me feel even worse about myself because, gosh, how broken was I really if those didn't appeal to or work for me? The secret is that I’m not any more broken than the next person. I just had to find what works for me, even if it’s an unconventional self-care exercise. Doing that really helped me make strides in my recovery.
If the title didn’t give it away, I’m a millennial, and mental health is important to me. In the same way millennials are a generation within a space of pre- and growing technology, I see us as existing in the space of pre- and growing mental health conversations. I’ve been thinking about what that looks like and what that means.