Hand in Hand: My Journey with Mental Health

Trigger Warning: Hey guys I’m going to throw a trigger warning in right here. The following is my experience with mental health and will include things like anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and rape. Please do not read if any of those make you uncomfortable or bring you to a low point in your life. I am aiming to talk about my mental health not to trigger someone else’s. 

I sit on the bed as thoughts race through my mind. It’s always the worst scenarios but something in me makes me think that it’s the only scenario. My stomach hurts, sending sharp pains all throughout my body, I feel nauseous. Then comes the throbbing in my head, like nails being hammered straight into my skull, each negative thought making the nails go deeper. The world starts to spin around me and I feel dizzy until finally I get up only to make my way to the bathroom to get rid of the nausea.

This is what it feels like when my anxiety begins and it only gets worse from there, sometimes these can last seconds, sometimes hours, and sometimes the effects linger for days. It all really depends on the day and the situation. This is not how everyone experiences anxiety, it isn’t even how I experience anxiety all the time. It is however how I experience anxiety most often.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, let’s go back to the beginning, to when it all started. I was seven years old when everything took a turn in my life. My father, the man who was supposed to protect me from all the evil things out there became that very evil thing. He rapped me, something I have always found hard to talk about. It didn’t just happen once and yet I remained quiet, scared of what might happen if I told someone what was happening. Even my mom had no idea what was going on when she wasn’t in the house. I held onto the burden for years, all the while beating myself up, making myself believe that I deserved it, that I did something to bring it on.

It wasn’t just sexual abuse with my father, it was also emotional abuse, there were so many times he would tell me that I wasn’t good enough. It got to where I believed the words he was saying. I truly believed that I wasn’t good enough and I wasn’t ever going to be good enough. no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t live up to the expectations I set for myself. Because you see when you start believing you aren’t good enough you look for reasons why, you begin to create them. I set goals I knew were too much, goals I knew I would always fall short on. It was an endless cycle that just brought me deeper and deeper down into a depression I didn’t know I was falling into, all I knew was I wasn’t good enough.

So I started to put all my focus into school, nothing else was as important as making sure I achieved those high grades, those goals that I set for myself. School was that one thing I was good at, that one thing I seemed to have control over in my life and no one but myself could take that away from me. My standards were high, a lot higher than everyone else around me had for me. I can remember the first time I got anything lower than an 80%, I came home devastated and informed my mom that I had failed. She asked me what my grade had been and I sadly told her a 75% as if it were the end of the world. Of course she told me it wasn’t a fail and it was in fact a very good mark but I didn’t believe her. My whole life had been focused on honor roll and this wasn’t an honor roll mark.

Looking back on moments like I realize how much having the high standards I had were setting me up for failure. There were many moments just like this one and each and every time the result was similar. Sometimes it was a sense of failure, other times anxiety was added. It was a hard thing to deal with and yet I put myself through it each and every day. It came to the point where before doing something new, spending time with someone new or even going somewhere I had been a million times but knew there was going to be a lot of people I would have an anxiety attack about it. Life had become not as fun as everyone was telling me it was.

In fact high school was the worst four years of my life. Not only was I bringing myself down but others around me were finding everything they could to bully me for. Life truly seemed to suck and that would bring on more anxiety. I was a mess of anxiety mixed with depression I was trying to silence. Many days I was low but I would put on a happy face, after all in a small town such as the one I grew up in anxiety and depression didn’t really exist. Everyone seemed to know everyone’s business and this was not something I wanted other people to know. It was during these years I found some ounce of courage and was able to tell my mom about the abuse I was facing. She immediately took my siblings and I before leaving. She called the cops and my dad was arrested, he was later sentenced to two years less a day jail time.

There were many times over the course of my life where I thought about suicide, thought about just taking that way out, getting away from it all. Thankfully I had my mom and she always let me know how much she loves me, I believe this is part of what has kept me alive. Two years less a day my dad was released from jail, his suffering was over and yet mine was still present. I was still living with the anxiety and depression, the aftermath of it all. Why was he able to walk free while I was a prisoner to my mental health? This is something I don’t think I will ever understand.

Life was hard, everything seemed bigger and worse than it should be but I was holding on, if only by a thin thread. It wasn’t until my mom also fell into depression that something in me changed. While she was low I was there telling her that it was going to be okay, that she was going to make it through everything. I was helping her wherever I could. That was when I took a look at my own life: If I could say those things to my mom why the hell couldn’t I say them to myself? It was that realization that had me thinking. It was from that moment on I took a second look at everything, at myself and started telling myself the opposite of what I had been telling myself all these years.

So what does all this mean? Why am I writing all this today?

Well because I know there are so many other people out there who feel the same way, who think the same way I do. I want all of you to know that it can get better, you can love yourself. I am currently on my journey of self-love, I make sure I participate in self-care because it is something I deserve. It is something we all deserve. Self-love can be the hardest thing in the world to do, and yet I believe it is the most important thing. Yes there are lots of days where I hate myself but there are some days where I love myself, and that is more than I can say for my life growing up.

I still go through life with the anxiety and there are a lot of times where I hit my wall of depression but there are good times and smiles to even those out. Yes when I’m low I’m low but low isn’t my daily state anymore. The road I’m travelling is a long one, there are so many twists and turns but I believe I can make it to my destination and you can to. Everyone is unique, but that doesn’t mean something bad. Just like each flower is unique we all have something that makes us beautiful. Something that makes others want to pick us to have in their lives. We are all special in our own way and damn it we are so worth all the good things that are coming.

Keep you’re head up and believe in yourself because you are stronger than you know. And when you don’t believe in yourself just remember that I believe in you, we can do this. It’s not going to be easy but it is going to be so worth it in the end. I’m always around if you need someone to talk to, someone to brighten your spirits. If you don’t have that support in your life I’ll be that support because each and every one of you deserves it. You are worth it, I am worth it, We are worth it.

In the words of Christopher Robin: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

Keep on being you!

Lyndsay

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Mental Health Conference; Day 2

Hey everyone,

So day two of the conference was just as powerful as day one and I’m sorry this has taken so long. Work got really busy and I hit some hard anxiety that took some time to work through. Day two began with a talk from keynote speaker Kat Singer. It was very powerful and they shared some of their art which was very moving.

The workshops for the day were to follow the keynote speaker. The first workshop was presented by Subata Khalid and Susan Chen and was titled Reframing Body Image. They spoke about body image and changing it from negative to positive. It really meant something to me and I am so happy I got to experience it. The two of them were very knowledgeable and inspiring.

Another workshop was presented by Tyler Sarry and was titled Outside In. Tyler spoke about not only being physically fit but also being emotionally fit. He shared strategies about mastering ones mind and body. His workshop was a lot of fun and everyone seemed excited to be there. The atmosphere in the room was very uplifting and this was a very enjoyable workshop. I had the pleasure of speaking with Tyler outside of his workshop and he is a very positive and uplifting person.

The third workshop was titled Healing Through Yoga and presented by Marlee Liss. She focused on using yoga as a tool for healing. She was also one of the vendors at the conference with her book titled Re-Humanize. It is a very powerful, thought provoking book that I will be doing a post on at a later time. Marlee is an inspiration and someone I am so happy I got the chance of meeting.

The final workshop was presented by Shaila Khan and focused on using movement for self care practices. This was an interesting workshop and I had a chance to participate in some of the activities. I really enjoyed it and it’s something that I would recommend to others. She introduced different movements to deal with stress.

The final keynote speaker was Jennifer Poole who is a professional within the mental health field. She brought a different perspective to mental health and it was a very interesting talk.

Also on day two was the living library which I had the pleasure of being one of the books. There were “books” standing around the room and people were able to go and “read” them. I spoke about abuse and it’s effects on body image and I believe that it went really well. The living library was a new concept to me but it was also a very powerful one. It is something I would do again if given the chance.

Day two was a success as was the entire weekend. I am so proud to have been part of it and it is something I look forward to being part of in the future. I hope that everyone who attended walked away with something they were looking for or something they didn’t know they needed.

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey

Bell Let’s Talk Day

Hey Everyone,

So I want to talk about something that a lot of people don’t talk about: Mental Health. I personally have some mental health diagnosis including anxiety but there are some others. I also know a lot of people who also live with mental health. First it is not even close to something that is easy to live with and it is considered taboo to talk about which makes it that much harder to live with. People are afraid to express the things that are going on in fear of the repercussions that come with it. I was fortunate to grow up with a mother who is very supportive and has made herself approachable with topics such as mental health and I am forever grateful for that, however not everyone has that in their lives.

In fact many people live in an environment where mental health is seen as having something wrong with you, something you don’t talk about. This is one of the many reasons Bell Let’s Talk Day is a good thing. It promotes talking about mental health and taking away the stigma that is attached to it. I really hope that we can achieve this and make it so that many other people are willing to talk and find the support that they need. My wish is that we some day live in a world where talking about mental health is no longer taboo, where seeking support is easy. A place where everyone can be accepted whether they live with mental health or not.

However of course with the good also comes the bad as with every situation so here it comes. Having one day where people are showing their support isn’t enough. Having one day where people say “I stand with you regardless of mental health” is not enough. This needs to happen each and every day. Furthermore there are those people who will support Bell Let’s Talk Day and then turn around and make mental health taboo. People who will be the first to tell you there is something wrong with you because you suffer from mental health but will also be the first to #bellletstalk . This is the kind of thing that needs to change. If you stand with people living with mental health you have to do it year round, not just one day.

Living with mental health is not an easy thing to do. Nor will it ever be 100% easy but with the correct support and no stigma attached it can be easier. Let’s all do our part in making the world a place where everyone is accepted no matter what. Sometimes it’s as easy as listening to someone needing to talk, sometimes it must go deeper. Regardless on how it happens the important thing is that it happens. “Alone we are all unique but together we create a masterpiece.” -source not known

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey

New Year… New Me…

Hey Everyone,

So to start I know this is the whole new year new me thing is very overdone but I’m jumping on the band wagon to talk about it from my perspective.

Let’s talk about 2017 to get that out of the way. 2017 had a lot of ups and downs, there were points where I was very down in the dumps and points where I was on top of the world. Starting out I was in a job that stressed me out each and every day. I would get anxiety in the morning before leaving and would sometimes cry on the way home. I wasn’t the only one feeling like that but that is all for another post. I hated the person I was and there were a lot of things I wished that I could change about myself. As the year progressed there were a lot of times that seemed like things weren’t going to get better. I was stressing out about everything thrown my way. It was like bad things were happening one after the other. It was a really low point of my life.

Then things seemed to turn around. I got a new job and right away a lot of stress and anxiety was lifted. I was already happier and people around me were noticing it. This change in mood seemed to change a lot and life started to get better. It was strange to think that one small change made such a huge difference in everything. I came out of my shell a little more and started talking to people which isn’t something I would have done before. I had a little more confidence. Over the year there have been a lot of things I am happy to say that I have done. I’ve escaped from escape rooms, made new friends, spent time with friends and family, visited my family that I haven’t seen in a while, gone to Cuba and just gone on some awesome adventures. Don’t get me wrong there are still times when I’m down even since getting the new job. There are times when I still hate myself but that is something I am working on. I can’t say that 2017 was good or bad because it was a mixture of both.

Now for 2018 and what I hope the new year brings. First I want to feel better about myself and that involves taking care of myself. I am going to be eating healthier in the new year, this is something I started a little at the end of 2017. I’m hoping to lose some weight but I want to do it in a healthy way. I might even track my progress here, who knows. I have also been getting into bullet journaling and that is something I want to keep up. It keeps me organized and being organized helps with my mental state. One of the biggest things I want from the new year is to find a way to alleviate the amount of anxiety I have. I’m not sure how I’m going to go about doing this but it’s a work in progress. Most of all though I want to love myself. I’m on a path to liking myself and it’s a hard journey but I want to get there. I want to see myself how my friends see me. 2018 is the year of big changes for me and hopefully it’s the year of self love.

Whether you make resolutions or not it’s a new year and there are new things to try each and every day. Make the most out of each one.

Talk Soon,

Lyndzey