When I had someone ask me to write a blog about this, I honestly got a bit of that “impostor syndrome” feeling. Why would I get impostor syndrome? Well, to be honest, it’s because I never really felt like I had a “personal journey” with mental health.
But let’s be honest, who hasn’t?! Now, while I’ve never had a “major traumatic event” happen to me, or ever formally struggled with anxiety or depression, I have become more aware of my own mental health journey over the years.
I would say that I’ve always been really interested in the introspective side of life. Maybe that’s because when I was upset at a young age, I would run through the corn fields to get away from life and sit hidden in the stalks until I felt satisfied with myself and the world at large. I’ve always been interested in learning what’s going on inside. Mental health is one of those things that most people don’t think they’ve dealt with until it’s “formally diagnosed.” I’ve got news for you – we’ve all dealt with it. It doesn’t take a formal diagnosis of depression, or PTSD, or anxiety, or whatever else to determine you need to take care of yourself mentally and spiritually.
Just like when it comes to our physical health, it doesn’t require being obese to go to the gym or finally see the doctor about your heart. Taking care of my mental health for some reason (maybe shear discernment from the Lord), has always been important to me. I’ve always been a person to think proactively. My dad always taught me, “prior proper planning prevents poor performance.” It’s real.
Now that we’ve established that I never really had too much of a “personal interaction” with the mental health world growing up, that doesn’t mean I’m out of the woods. Over the last couple of years I have developed more anxiety than I’d like to admit. Most of this is related to the immense amount of major life changes that have happened for me.
Life gets in the way, until you get in it’s way.
Over the last 3 years I have: changed jobs 3 times, I’ve gotten engage & married, bought a house, moved from a home I lived in for 6 years, experienced friends getting pregnant, friends moving away, started my own business, and faced physical health realities of my parents.
When I don’t take time to be intentional about my weeks, prepare myself, set aside time for me, or rest, I get the anxiety bug. Usually it comes on a Sunday night when I’ve already gotten in bed. Usually my heart races, I feel restless, and I have to take mega deep breaths. Other times the anxiety hits when I feel overstimulated by noises, feel too crowded, or too trapped. Sometimes my anxiety results in irritability, or distancing myself from the people who care most.
A therapist for the therapist…
I guess this is what lead me to finally get my own therapist for this therapist. I knew I needed proper time to set aside for myself to process, and talk, and learn deeper (making connections I can’t always make on my own).
To be honest, I feel extremely blessed to have never “needed” a therapist up until this point. The only real reason for this however, is because I have ALWAYS had some level of a mentor/spiritual guide in my life. I’ve always been involved in church, I’ve always been in a small group setting where I could talk about things, or I’ve always had really good intentional coffees with older/wiser individuals who’ve shown me the way. Even in my work, I always had weekly supervision, I always had a supervisor to turn to, and I always had support groups to attend.
That was what worked for ME. I never really needed more than that, because those times allowed me all the intentionality I needed to navigate the rough terrains. However, with my recent life transitions I was losing this time. I no longer had weekly supervisions, I no longer had intentional coffees with friends (because life took over everyone else too), and I no longer had these support systems because I was branching out on my own for my own business.
That’s when I saw my need. So, I took the time to finally find my own therapist. It only took me 27 years, but I did it! After being in the field for 5 years, I finally made my way to my own therapist. And let me tell you, it’s been great! It gives me that much needed individual time to process, to deal, think deeper, and be challenged.
Symptoms, not a Cause.
Something important to remember: anytime we are dealing with mental health, we are dealing with SYMPTOMS, not a CAUSE. Just like when you go to the doctor and they point out you have a rash – you don’t all of a sudden BECOME your rash. You have a rash, and it’s caused by SOMETHING. You have a rash, you are not a rash. Just the same with mental health. You are dealing with SYMPTOMS caused by SOMETHING deeper usually.
My anxiety is not a cause of anything, its the result of not being intentional about my week, or about being prepared, or not being rested. My symptoms are: heart racing, intrusive thoughts, irritability, and shallow breathing. Now all of these symptoms could cause further physical health problems, sure. However, it’s super important to remember that because I DEAL with anxiety sometimes, does not mean I am Anxiety…. (Maybe this is all a tangent for another topic of a blogpost later: incorrect diagnosis, and marketing ploys)
My journey with mental health have involved my own struggles, witnessing the struggles of those around me, and obviously working deeply with my clients. Over this time I’ve learned so much about patterns of behaviors, deep rooted causes, how to process and understand these deep rooted causes, and how to free people from their labels.
Mental health is a journey for all of us. It’s not until we recognize this, that we can become free from it. Mental health is about taking care of your mental health. We all have mental health issues, some are just at a more intense degree than others. Some are labeled officially, some are not. However, we are ALL in this together.
We’re all in this together.
We’ve all interacted with someone who’s struggling a little bit harder than us, and have all probably struggled at some point. Let’s give each other a little grace. Let’s support one another getting help. Let’s support one another going to a professional who’s got skills/tools/different framework than maybe our bestie does. Unless your bestie is a therapist, then listen to them!
We don’t need to only talk with individuals who’ve been through the same thing. Reach out to those who are KNOWLEDGEABLE, and can give you what you need. Don’t just go to a surgeon who’s had the same surgery you need, go find the best one that’s been in practice and can actually offer you help. Same goes for your mental health. You don’t need a practitioner who’s experienced your same trauma. You need someone who can empathize, be compassionate, provide knowledge and truth, and usher you into healing.
If anyone out there has any further questions about my personal mental health journey don’t hesitate to reach out!