It feels like every few months, I have to write a reminder post of some sort. Sometimes, they’re reminder posts about my own mental health journey – reminding myself that progress is a process, and that when I have a bad mental health day, all of the progress I’ve made isn’t undone (even though it feels like it). Other times I’ll write an encouragement post that’s for anyone who happens to come across it, because we could all use some encouragement now and then. So I’m back today with another reminder post to remind myself (and anyone who reads this) that the physical toll it takes to maintain mental health and fight against the stigma has a breaking point – and that it’s okay to hit that point.
My latest depressive episode is the inspiration for this reminder post. Last week was, to put it simply, a lot for me – this month is always pretty difficult, and National Suicide Prevention Week can heighten those feelings. I still remember the first year I started this blog, and I couldn’t write a post for World Suicide Prevention Day because when I sat down to write, my brain went blank and my hands went limp.
Even in three years of growth since then, talking about some of these mental health moments takes a toll on me – I’m not sure if it’s purely physical, mental, emotional or whatever, but at some point, I break. And while I have other triggers for my depression and anxiety, this is the one that is clearest to me. That makes me feel like I should know how to deal with those emotions better, which would mean I wouldn’t have as many depressive episodes, right? Nope – in fact, that makes those episodes and breakdowns even more confusing.
So that is my first reminder to myself – knowing my triggers doesn’t mean my symptoms will go away. What it means is that I can understand the world around me a little better, so when I feel something coming on, I can try to understand why. One of the most difficult parts of dealing with mental breakdowns in the past was a worry and fear that I had no idea why they happened – not only in the moment, but in the days after it was over. Sometimes, that fear of not knowing even extended those breakdowns/episodes. Even if the reason is that there wasn’t one, losing that ambiguity has helped me in the past.
But I still get frustrated and annoyed at myself for putting myself in that position to begin with, and that’s where I want to end today. Because while so much of mental health and our journeys is complicated, sometimes it’s very straightforward. After having my latest breakdown (I was safe and I’ve since made it through the worst of it), I became annoyed at myself. I thought I knew and understood the emotional toll talking about mental health takes on me, but I was still a little surprised when I finally broke. Which is ridiculous – I’ve had far worse breakdowns that are much more random than this. But in the moment, it didn’t matter. It never does. When your brain goes dark and you don’t feel anymore, little else matters.
Then, all that matters is fighting to see it through, to survive the moments, minutes, hours or days that this feeling lasts – getting to the light at the end of the tunnel so you can have enough strength to fight again. And some days, we can’t offer the world much more than that. And in my final reminder to myself and to all of you: that was always okay. That always is okay. And that will always be okay. Wishing you folx all the best for your mental health this week!