Walking with Each Other Through Mental Illness

Can we have an open conversation about mental health? Totally okay if it’s one-sided here, but I think it’s important to have continual, transparent conversations about how anxiety, depression, narcissistic tendencies, etc. can impact our lives.

 

I have social anxiety and up until I incorporated meditation, counseling, and CBD into my wellness routine, I had panic attacks as well. And my favorite response when I share that is when people try to tell me that that’s not possible because I’m so outgoing or because I share my life on Instagram. If only it worked that way.

 

The truth is that I can get so wrapped up in my thoughts and what I feel other people are thinking about me that I can forget to breathe sometimes. True story, I’ve passed out more than once as a result.

 

I have seen major strides in how I carry myself through anxiety attacks, but I still struggle. Just the other day I sat in a meeting where we had to go around the room and introduce ourselves + share an interesting fact. On the outside I’m sure I looked calm, but my heart was racing, face was sweating (my VERY UNFORTUNATE first indication of stress) and that was even after practicing my “Hi, I’m Rachel…” to myself for thirty minutes beforehand.

 

Anxiety and other mental health issues present themselves differently in every person and it’s important for us to recognize that maybe that person isn’t rude. Maybe it physically causes her body stress to open up in a group setting. Maybe she has severe depression and she’s just proud she showered today. I’ve been there!

 

We don’t know! We won’t know if people don’t tell us and there’s two really important points I want to bring home here:

 

For the person walking through a season or a lifetime where you’re struggling with your mental health, you’re not alone. 1 in 4 people in the world will be impacted by a mental or neurological disorder at some point in their lives. I am 1 of those 4, and I know many of my readers are as well.

 

What does that mean for you? As hard as it may feel to open up, try it with one trusted friend. When we can start to have the tough conversations, people are more likely to stand in your corner because they have a better understanding of what’s going on in your head.

 

I cancel plans a lot. I can even get to a restaurant and decide I don’t want to go in. I recognize that I am the flaky friend, but my friends also know that anxiety and depression are two companions that I’ll probably always have in this life in some capacity. Allowing them to better understand my social limitations lets them love me through my cancelled plan and flaky tendencies.

 

For the person unsure how to address our friends who have a mental illness, it’s always a good idea to ask how you can make this person feel more loved and accepted. But there’s another side to that. Offer emotional support before verbal. If I tell you I’m having a bad day or I feel anxious or anything, it’s okay to compassionately ask why. It’s not okay to then offer pointless advice like try to take a deep breath. Or have you tried meditation?

 

Yes, Susan. Deep breathing has miraculously cured my seasonal depression. Thank you for the recommendation.

 

I WISH it worked that way for all of us 1 in 4s.

 

You can show support by asking what’s one thing I can help take off your plate today, and then following through.

 

Learn their love language and act on it. For my fellow gift lovers, you know a $5 Starbucks gift card is like gold to us.

 

Pray for them. Right then and there. Hold their hands and look them in the eyes with the reassurance that they won’t face anything alone.

 

Don’t make assumptions. When I feel anxious, I tend to disengage and clam up. I’m not rude, I’m not stuck up, I’m not ignoring you.

 

I’m nervous. I’m anxious. I’m trying really hard to focus on my breathing.

 

1 in 4 are big odds, y’all. At some point we will either experience a mental health disorder or someone around us will. Let’s keep fighting the good fight to be honest about our emotions and what headspace we are in.

 

I would love to hear more of where you’re at, how you’re coping, and what’s worked for you. For the record, I am pro meditation and essential oils. I am also pro medication and therapy. At the end of the day, I am for YOU. To me, it’s about addressing your mental space, researching your options, and making an informed decision that work for you.

 

I’m with you on this journey.

 

xx

 

RSG

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