A Battle is not Without Casualties | A Look into My Mental Health War

March 6, 2019

“Your battles inspired me – not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead.” ― James Joyce

I came across the above quote a few days ago and it has been rolling over and over in my mind ever since.

Well, hello…

It’s been a while. To be honest, I haven’t written on this site since November because I had nothing to say. For so long I have used this website as a way to just get my thoughts out. I knew not a lot of people were reading it. Hell, I didn’t think anyone was for a while. And sure, there may not be any reading now, but I have always felt that this blog was more for me than anyone else.

My mind has been full of so much these past months. However, I think I am slowly getting a handle on all of it. At times I think I am a machine and each cog is slowly spinning out of control or rusting to the point that it takes so much strength to just turn it a few millimeters. Though, this machine may just be loosening up just a bit.

On February 14th of this year, I finally made the first step into handling my depression and anxiety by speaking to my doctor. This appointment was six years in the making and I wish I would have done it sooner. I have been on my meds since that day and I have noticed a small change. Nothing too drastic, but it’s going to be a long process. I also have decided to do a few things that scare me this year.

This Sunday I am going to go to a movie theater for the first time in four years and I am pretty nervous, but also incredibly excited. I’m going to see Captain Marvel so that is the prize at the end of all that nervous energy. My fear of public spaces may never go away, but at this point, all I can do is handle the side effects of my anxiety and not let it consume me.

I am 21, unemployed, never been in a relationship, and to be honest, I am incredibly lonely. My mental illnesses have destroyed so much of my life and I don’t know how I am going to rebuild anything or get anything started, but I’m starting by taking these few small steps.

There are so many people in my life who don’t know the extent of my anxiety and if I’m honest, I think if they did know, it would frighten them. The thoughts that course through my brain at all hours of the day are full of horrible and unrealistic things. The oppressive thoughts that surround you as you try to live out your normal life are suffocating. There is a reason why so many people who struggle with anxiety develop depression.

My anxiety came first and then the depression followed because I felt as if I could never function as what I considered normal. I used to be so outgoing and happy and willing to do things that absolutely horrify me now. Something so simple as going to lunch with friends has turned into a heart-pounding, palm-sweating, thought-provoking experience that ruins the entire moment for me. I cannot think of the last time I enjoyed myself while being with friends. Maybe when I was 14?

And that is not even the worst part. Because when you are dealing with all of this pressure and mental poison, you get so good at lying. I have perfected the whole, “I’m fine,” response and made my smile so convincing that people around me have no idea how much I am struggling inside. A part of my illness is that I don’t want to put the pressure of it on other people even though so many of them have said that they want to help me, but it is not that simple.

Because to truly help me, you need to understand and unless you’ve experienced the things that run through my head, it’s difficult to offer the right kind of help. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love that people are so willing to help me and be there for me, but it makes me feel guilty when I have to talk about all of this with them. Which, of course, is all a part of the disease.

For years, I have played all of this off as typical teenage depression, but now? Now I have come to realize that me being unable to walk up the street with my dog is not a small problem. And the craziest part? I actually want to do these things now. I want to go on dates and I want to have happiness and light in my life. For years, I didn’t care about getting help or seeking treatment because I didn’t see the point.

How could someone or some kind of medication fix this? How could something so horrible like the things I constantly think about just magically go away? Well, they don’t. And nothing is going to be fixed. I have discovered that mental illness, in my personal experience, is not so easily defeated. We can compare it to war, which is what I have been doing a lot lately.

In a battle, there are two sides. Both want to win and both are willing to fight and destroy the other. However, when it’s all over, some may think their side has won, but in reality, there is loss across the board. Nobody can really win because you will lose something no matter what. I know that I can’t take a magic pill and I will be like I was when I was 14 again. What I can do is pick up the sword again and keep going even if the battle seems unwinnable. Each day is a new fight and six years later, I am willing to put on my battle armor and start to kick ass because I have decided that I am not going to live like this anymore.

This wasn’t something I decided overnight either. Keep in mind that I have thought about seeking help for months. It took many nights of crying myself to sleep and daydreaming about my future to get me to realize how much I was already missing out on.

I stopped working in 2016 when I lost my job as a dance teacher. I was let go because my boss wanted more for me, but I was happy in that job. And yes, I could have gone and gotten another teaching job, but that was one my main comfort zones and it was taken away. I spiraled moments afterward. I got drunk and cried for hours because I lost a piece of myself when I was let go. it wasn’t my proudest moment, but I look back on it now and realize just how far gone I was at that point.

2016 was the year that everything got worse. I stopped trying and I worried my entire family and it was a dark year. 2017 and 2018 were even worse and over Christmas in December, I promised myself I wasn’t going to go through another dark year. There is already too much damn darkness in the world right now and if I could make it a bit brighter for myself, I’d call that a win.

For years, the only thing that kept me somewhat sane was dancing. I loved it. The only time my mind was unbothered was when I was in class or on stage. It was everything to me. Now, unfortunately, I don’t do it anymore. For many reasons, but mostly because if you’re not in college or in LA, there aren’t many dance opportunities for adults where I live. And when I lost my dancing, I thought that was it. I would never find anything that I loved more than creating art through dance and music. Until I realized the one thing that I have always loved was right in front of me.

Writing.

I’ve always loved to write stories and even when I was dancing six days a week, I found a moment to get something down on a word document. Whether it was horribly written fanfiction or my original stories or that short time I attempted poetry (never again), I always made sure to write. That is what has kept me going through all the darkness in my life. As long as I can write beautiful and kind and carefree worlds, I was okay. And I truly believe that my writing is what made me get my ass in gear and finally ask for help.

Artistic expression can be in any form. Whether it be through dance or writing or singing or even painting, it can be transformative. They say the pen is mightier than the sword, but I think they are one and the same. My pen is my sword and it allows me to continue the battle raging in my mind, one I intend to win while accepting that there will be casualties.

But I won’t be a casualty myself.

I am going to live.

I am going to get through this no matter how long it takes.

Mental illness does not have to be your vice or your death sentence. It can be your never-ending battle that is fought with pens and swords. And while there will be hardships and days that you want to give up, know that you’re not the only one on the battlefield. We may lose people, but we will never stop fighting.

I hope you will join me in this battle.

I’ll talk to you soon.

Best,

Haley.

Author: My Thoughts are a Blog

21. Blogger, Star Wars, Marvel, and Book Enthusiast, Over-thinker, Aspiring Author who hates everything she writes, and mother to Gracie & Ghost.

One thought

  1. This is powerful Haley and I understand everything you went through. I’m so glad you got help and that you can see a change. I’m very proud of you and what you create and I know you’re going to go from strength to strength now! 2019 is your year! Go get em! ❤

    Like

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