Mental Health Awareness month is so important to me because I struggle so much with mental health. It is so empowering to me that so many other people around the world struggle with the same things I do and I am so grateful to live in a time where speaking about your mental health is normal. 

Perhaps I am lucky because I grew up in a household where mental health struggles were normal. Whenever I was feeling sad, anxious, or just out of sorts, those feelings weren't pushed away. Because my family members understood what I was going through my feelings were taken seriously and they pushed me to get better. 

I've been extremely open with my issues on the blog and social media over the years. I have never been ashamed that I have anxiety and depression because I have never felt shame around it.  The last time I gave an update was in May 2021, aka the last Mental Health Awareness Month so I guess we're making this a tradition.

What Has Been Happening

Since August I've been struggling a lot. Work was burning me out because I had taken on too much and then that spilled over to other areas of my life. My social anxiety had skyrocketed and I hated leaving the house. 

By the time Christmas rolled around, I was in a bad place; not as bad as November 2020 but still, I didn't feel like myself. I was having daily panic attacks, waking up incredibly anxious and staying that way through the day, and not being able to function on a daily basis. It was really bad and scary.

I made the decision to go off birth control in January 2022 because my doctor informed me that if I was having intense migraines (which I was) that I shouldn't be on birth control. No one has ever told me that before so I got nervous. I also thought that maybe birth control was contributing to my anxiety. I had been on it for 8 years and don't really remember my anxiety being this bad before I was on it so why not.

After The Pill

Well, coming off of birth control sent my body and mind into a spiral. I was a basket case and it honestly concerned me. My daily panic attacks were up to at least twice a day, I felt like I was crawling out of my skin and I just couldn't handle the slightest bit of stress. I kind of shut down and became a recluse; I didn't want to see anyone and just wanted to lay in bed.

I finally saw my psychiatrist and she said what I was experiencing was normal but we upped my medication one level and within a few weeks I was feeling like my normal self again. Medication is a beautiful thing when you suffer from mental health issues and I will never turn my back on the thing that saved me from myself.

Now, on a daily basis, I'm fine. I still have the occasional bout of anxiety but it is manageable and I'm able to function. However, when I am about to get my period my anxiety and depression heightens like you wouldn't believe. I become a shell of myself and need to just be alone with no responsibility. It is the worst feeling and I wish I could help myself but nothing really works. I just have to rid of the PMS scaries.

What Else Was Happening

The other thing that was happening while I was experiencing this debilitating anxiety and depression was that I was extremely confused and foggy. I felt totally overwhelmed with what I wanted to be doing vs what I was capable of doing. I was weirdly putting too much pressure on myself to put on this persona, to identify with a specific aesthetic, to act a certain way because maybe if I was being someone else I would be happy. I would be where I wanted to be but obviously, that wasn't the case.

I felt like I couldn't focus on any tasks, I was constantly distracted and was falling behind in all areas of my life. Eventually, that passed after a few months and I'm feeling like I can manage things again but that didn't come without work.

How I've Been Coping

I previously spoke about how one thing, my habit tracker, has helped me and it still is. I'm trying to up my game a little because I want to try to incorporate new habits and really form a routine. I do well with routines and the predictability that comes along with them so I'm currently reading Atomic Habits and hoping that kicks my butt into gear.

That being said, I have a pretty solid nighttime routine and way of doing things to help me really unwind, relax and have a little me-time. It helps me connect with myself and just tune out the noise. 

I still journal every night, go to therapy weekly, meditate, exercise daily, drink water and try to practice daily gratitude. 

Right now, I am ok. Well, as I write this I had a bad day but I am doing my best to not let one bad day ruin any progress I've made. That is something I need to get better at... but all in all, 

Below are a few other things that have been helping me be at peace and keep anxiety at bay by taking back a little control in my life:

  • Saying no to social events when needed but then also pushing myself through anxiety. My anxiety doesn't control me, I control it.
  • Staying organized but not overly organized; I was getting into a bad place earlier this year when I was using too many physical and digital planners, making too many to-do lists, and just setting unrealistic expectations for my daily tasks. Once I limited myself on what can get done, I felt like a weight was lifted off my shoulders. I am just not someone who can handle a lot at once, which brings me to my next point.
  • I stopped apologizing for who I am and started accepting myself more. I was never someone who disliked myself, I've always had good confidence and self-esteem but I get very hard on myself when it comes to feeling like I should be acting a certain way or I should be doing something, just because that is what society expects. I do not like to stay out until 3 AM nor do I like to go out during the week. I can't do something during the day if I have to go out at night and I can't put too much on my plate. When I started accepting and leaning into that, I felt so much better. There is nothing 'wrong' with me, I am just different. 

And here are the things I want to start doing...

  • I'd like to have a better morning routine where I meditate, practice gratitude, write daily affirmations, and don't look at my phone.
  • I'd like to create daily habits for myself where I am setting aside specific times for specific tasks (like writing!!)
  • Reducing my screen time, especially at night, so I don't get caught in a never-ending scroll binge.
  • Getting outside at least once a day, even if it's a walk around the block. Being outside makes me feel good and I always forget it does.
  • Tracking my moods so I can be mindful of what triggers me and when I'm experiencing an anxiety attack
  • Keeping a list of things that make me feel good so I can reference them whenever I'm having an anxiety attack 

Mental health is ever-changing and it's so personal, what works for one person might not work for someone else and that is ok. I just hope we can continue this upward trend of being open and honest about our struggles because no one should suffer in silence.


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