The Hunt for Healing in Life with Mental Illness

Mental illness is a topic I research pretty often. I have struggled with anxiety and depression all of my life. While searching for answers, I found one I didn’t know I needed. I was struggling with focus, not getting anything done and my thoughts ran in circles, every thought was like a clock cog clicking, a new thought rushed in at every tic. ADHD is a match to all the things about me that others brushed off as “crazy.” I fed into that; when you pile trauma and leave it for later, later never comes and the snowball starts rolling down the hill. I had lost the ability to hide it.

I suffered in silence and beat myself up mentally. I would get 7 tasks away lost in distraction. It felt like I started 10 things and I’d be folding clothes, look down and see I need to vacuum and all the while my shower is running upstairs. I turned on the water and walked away to get a towel and my mind took a 30 min detour. This is obviously something I will have to learn how to live with and maneuver around. The “stuck” part is hard, it’s like falling asleep during a thought with your eyes open. I had such a false sense of what ADHD was, I never even considered it. It shows up very differently in women vs. men and I am doing my part to learn and put the information out there. It is not a shameful thing; it just needs to be integrated into my daily routines. I use art, writing, and photography to calm me when I feel overloaded or overwhelmed.

I have always seemed to attract others who, like me, suffer in silence not fully knowing or understanding what’s wrong. I think a lot of my mental issues heightened after my daughter’s father became abusive during my pregnancy. She is manic bipolar and I see how it affects her and I see him in her when she is manic. Mental illness is not easy to talk about. There is this sense of shame and I want to pick away at that. I am extremely vocal about it now, and I use my social media to open up and start conversations about topics that are relevant to women and our everyday struggles. I had PTSD and postpartum depression fused together and never dealt with any of it. I dove into work, having two jobs as a single mother, and adding college to the mix led to burnout. I still feel I have not fully recovered. I am not who I was, I developed into someone who knew that if I didn’t figure out why I keep falling into depression I may someday get stuck and not return, I had to search for the answers. The realization that some things are hard for me yet seemed very easy to most. 

I may have started gathering information when I didn’t realize why. All my classes were by my own choice, geared toward Psychology. I was debating changing my major and never got the chance. I want to return and finish my degree and find a way to advocate for others. I have a strong voice and a message that needs to be heard. I started thinking about how to use my talents, to get my journey underway. From fighting a nasty battle with my employer, losing my job, losing my car, friends, and my passion for life, I knew I was part of the problem. I spiraled into a deep depression waiting for unemployment to kick in, dealing with my daughter and her bipolar issues, a bad breakup, on top of my mother going through cancer for the second time.

It was time for a change. I felt so sick and tired of feeling sad all the time. When my unemployment finally came through I had already surrendered my car, so I had a choice: get a new car and make all the same mistakes, or isolate and start my own website. I have always wanted to write professionally, and here was my chance. Investing in yourself isn’t an easy thing, but I noticed I seemed to be prosperous. Every article, poem, and product review seemed to be working. I got some of my photography and a few poems published and it felt so rewarding. I am ready to move to articles. I have so much to say and I deliver my message in a way that people relate to. Real is always the most magnetic vibe. I am who I am, my scars are invisible, but I am finding creative ways to bring them to light. If there was something I want to be remembered for, it would be for how I shared my experiences to help others feel safe to talk or just know they are not alone. There is no shame in having a mental illness, it’s a shame that the way it’s dealt with in this country promotes the decline of someone’s mental state more than it provides safety and help.

I am pushing myself harder. I want to find a remote job that will afford me the time to get out in the world and meet people, make connections, do random acts of kindness, and experience life! I call it “The Hunt for Healing.” I want to make a connection in all 50 states and find the people who live with illnesses that don’t have a spotlight. I want to break myths about what they entail and how they show up in men vs. women. 

I will reach out to professionals and eventually try a podcast where I can invite people from the project to come and speak openly about their knowledge of their particular disorder. It’s time to break the silence.

Photo by Joyful on Unsplash

About the author: Regina Hunt
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