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So, thanks to the power of social media, huge influencing companies, and celebrities, and of course, brave and strong advocates, the taboo around mental illness is starting to be torn down. In fact, since this movement, there are more and more people continuing to come out about their struggles and diagnoses.
But what about those who haven't found that courage or inner strength to face their family and friends? Those who are still fighting in silence?
Hey! It's nice to meet you!
I am, indeed, one of those people. Even here today, I hide behind a fake name, praying no one recognizes who I am. The only beings on the face of this earth who know about my anxiety and depression disorder are my boyfriend, my best friend, my doctor, and my psychologist. That's it. Not my family, not any of my other friends. That's it. And well, of course my fur babies, but the beauty in that is that I don't have to explain myself to them.
I understand the power of words and having a voice. I just haven't found mine yet.
For me, the explanation is exhausting. Like literally, I've written this time and time again and had to give up because I could feel the flashbacks taking over my soul. It's hard! For example: even now, when I can feel it coming on, all I can manage to spit out to my boyfriend is "I'm not feeling very well," but that's okay, because he understands what that means.
I've thought about the conversation I'd end up having with my parents and my friends. It doesn't go horribly, but it's long. It's answering a load of questions—questions that I can't even muster up the courage to answer in my own head, let alone have those words stammering from my frozen mouth.
It's not because I'm ashamed, because I'm not. It's a part of my past and present. It's not "me," but it is a huge part of my life at this point in time. It's because of having to go back to those dark days, remembering what it felt like to have my first panic attack, my eyes getting heavy thinking about how tired and exhausted I was (and am) from this monster.
I'm writing this because I can't be the only one out there battling in silence. I can't be the only one who hasn't found my voice yet. I can't be the only one who has this huge secret. I refuse to believe I am.
I've read hundreds (okay, maybe not hundreds) of motivational, inspiring, hopeful, articles of people talking about their battles—great ones at that! But I've never seen one like this one I'm currently writing. One that talks about the "silent type."
So I'm putting this out there for people like me. Survivors like me. So that people like me can read this and know that it's okay to be a "people like me." It's okay to not want to rip yourself open and relive those moments that are scarred in your soul. It's okay to have this secret. It's okay to stutter to yourself trying to make sense of this. It truly is okay.
I hope one day we all find our voices. Maybe it won't be until we have it under control. Maybe it won't be for another 20 years! No one really knows, but we WILL know when we feel safe. We WILL know when we want to share our stories with others. We will—I believe that.
Now that it's the holidays, many people find it difficult to make it through. Financial struggles, social gatherings, giving the "perfect" gift," the list goes on. It does for me, anyways. My stomach aches with worry, my brain races with imaginary conversations, just to name a few symptoms. So listen to me when I say: the BEST present you can give to yourself is forgiveness. Yeah, call me cheesy, but it truly is.
Forgive your brain for conjuring up thoughts that it doesn't want to think about. Forgive your stomach for making you sick. Forgive your mouth for not saying the words you want to say. Forgive your trembling hands, they want to make you stable. Forgive your lungs for hyperventilating, they want to take deep breaths to calm you down. Forgive your body, inside and out! Even if you feel like you can only forgive yourself for a minute. Do it. It'll be a nice minute.
Stay strong, people like me. And hey! Even if there aren't any people like me, I just wrote myself a pretty darn good letter ❤
Next step, taking my own advice.