The Hunt for Healing in Life with Mental Illness

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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

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