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An Open letter On Mental Health


Please read the prologue to this letter
Read ME
So here’s a letter to myself, my brother, my cousin, and anyone who needs an advocate.

Dear YOU,
I know how you feel, (I know … we’re not supposed to tell people that because it’s insensitive,) but I’ve spent my whole life being overly sensitive and I just need to break that rule. People need to feel like they aren’t suffering alone. You aren’t ALONE.

Of course I don’t know exactly how you feel. I can’t fathom the places you’ve gone and the exact amount of pain on a scale; I can’t hear your thoughts or know about your particular type of aftermath. But I can know that how you proceed—from now on—should be up to you. Your health is yours, as is your future. It should not be chosen solely by a doctor or statistic or range. How you prefer to feel should be up to you, and there are professionals with integrity out there who will help you achieve that.


I had to learn to love myself, it was a process. It was the biggest, scariest, value add I've ever known. To anyone, lost, tormented, confused or struggling out there, if you stumble upon this letter, know, I will be your training wheels. Like a favorite library book, I am here for you.  I'll say it until you can say it without me. I love you so much ...  and I will do everything in my power to make that love matter. If this is how I can show up for you, I will. I am here. If you let me, I'll send you a letter, a lifeline, I'll cheerlead.This is important.

Think about this: There are people who have been told they will never walk again, yet they have walked. There are people who have been told chemotherapy is the only treatment for their cancer, yet they have entered remission by other means. There have been people who have been told they have 6-weeks left to live, yet they have lived much longer. It's fair to say that not everything we are told by the medical professionals we trust is the absolute truth; there are always exceptions and mistakes and there is always hope. Take charge of your treatment, care about yourself, and find an avenue that works for you. Speak to your doctor, ask questions, and decide you’re important enough. You have to want it the most.

I chose me, I committed to me. I refused to believe I was a failure (looking back: I wasn’t a failure) but despite that truth, every single fiber of my being felt that way. I felt a heavy emotional pain and pressure on my chest. My self-talk, my thoughts, my fears, my hesitation, my reflection in the mirror, everything that I felt, saw, and knew confirmed it. I was depressed. It hard to explain depression but its such a real force.

Medicine helped me not feel anything, which I preferred, for a while; I enjoyed the break from me.  Being me is a tall glass of water, the kind that gives you brain freeze.
Over time, I came to see that feelings and emotions and my overactive, overly-sensitive brain was what made me capable and brilliant and it’s what held my potential. I just needed to protect it and harvest it. I had to love and accept me in order start that journey. I needed to live with balance and not allow my lifestyle choices to thrust outside of that.
For me too much caffeine, too much sleep, too much food or too much emotion are not productive. I learned that excessive behaviors and the “too much” factor were my catalyst for offsetting things. I have to practice awareness and balance. I need awareness and balance. I write, I perform, I express, I cherish my creativity, but not excessively.
For me Depression  was easy place to go and hard place to leave. It’s also a place that some people can’t relate to, for them it appears to be a state of self-loathing, something to be snapped out of. But it's not.  

This incredible journey I have been on, it has been a selfish one, and I don’t regret a single minute of it. Because NOW, I love myself, and I know my actual weaknesses as well as my full source of strength; NOW I am capable of loving myself and others the way they deserve to be loved. I haven’t felt depressed in 15-years and I have done that all without a single pill, this isn't to say my story should be anything like yours. The thing about illness of the mind is, effective treatment is subjective and what works for me may not for you.  If standing on your head relieves your depression, then go with it, if you think it helps -- it does help.

I've learned, you can treat your symptoms or you can treat the underlying problem, the choice is your; but if you choose to fix the problem, like I did, then you have to accept it exists. This is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. But denial enabled me to stay lost and in pain with triggers threatening my everyday life. 

Being a performer has allowed me to siphon emotional energy into my work; my job makes it ok for all that extra syrupy stuff to have a space, I’m not saying everyone should be a performer, I’m not saying being a performer saved me, I’m just being candid and telling my story. 

I believe we all have something to contribute and until I do give something great to this world, I will keep trying. Please share this post with someone who needs to be related to—with someone who is someone like me and maybe you. ♥ xx



If you or someone you care about is struggling with the reality of having, coping with or adjusting to the presence of mental illness, please reach out!

RESOURCES:

IN THE UK
08444775774
AnxietyUK

IN THE US

CALL THE NAMI HELPLINE

National Alliance on Mental Illness
1-800-950-NAMI 


How should we talk about mental health?
-F, 10 AM - 6 PM ETFind Help in a crisis or Text "NAMI" to 741741

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