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Thoughts During Mental Health Day

A Quick Personal Story with an Important Message

Steve Johnson (Pexels)

When I was six I was diagnosed with GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) and OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), among a few other three letter abbreviated thingamabobs that played a background role to the two things above. I’ve always been hesitant to talk about my mental illnesses, not from shame, but from the fear (ha, fear, that’s ironic) that it could be used against me. That some evil doer out there somewhere could use it against me. However, as I got older I came to realize that living in fear, in any way, is a way of living I can’t afford.

I was lucky. I had (and still do) a mother who never took no for an answer. It didn’t matter how many times she was told it was impossible for a child so young to have this disease (because it is in fact a disease). She never faltered and was, and still is my pillar of strength in the shadowy abyss.

Years of counseling, medications, and a subsequent discharge from said counseling and sabbatical from medication (two years and counting) say I’m a healthy contributing member of society. I find that to be a bunch of bologna quite frankly.

I still struggle, I’m still terrified at times. If you were to ask me why I couldn’t give you a direct answer. I’d tell you because I am. Because it’s a part of me. An integral part of me that I am not ashamed of. My irrational fears have led me to some of the most amazing things for fear if I don’t spend my life counteracting those years of solitary confinement in my own head I’ll never make it up to myself. Maybe that’s why I dress the way I do, or have the hair color I do, even the number of tattoos and piercings I do. I’m sure someone could analyze that up the wazoo.

Maybe it’s why I don’t ever back down. Why I refuse to take no for an answer. Why I push back. Why I demand to be heard. Because living in fear for so long has to some extent left me with no cares left to give. Now before I obsessively read this ten times for clarity (sorry what can I say) let me say that there is no shame in your truth. No shame in throwing up in every bathroom of every restaurant in the greater area in which you love as a child (maybe that one’s just me.) No shame in asking for help, and no shame in medications. No shame. None.

I’ll leave you with the quote I put on my grad cap when I graduated with my first degree (admittedly I quoted it wrong, but I’ll leave you with the correct version).

Follow your fear ~ Tina Fey. 

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