I lead a highly social life via what I want everyone to see. On social media, my life looks like perfection to most. I post about attending all these sporting events and getting to travel the country and the world. I get paid to model bathing suits, clothing and use fitness apparel, but what appears on the surface can sometimes be fleeting and misleading. I’ve been wanting to write this article for a while but it just never felt right. World Mental Health Day seemed like an appropriate time to share my inner struggle.
I battle high functioning anxiety and depression daily. Sometimes my days are a mixture of puppies, unicorns and fairytale dreams. Other days I wake up in a black hole and feel like I haven't seen the sun for days. And then there are days that are a mixture of both.
On the surface, I appear calm, cool, collected, successful and like I have my sh*t together. I smile when needed, I strive to succeed and excel with presentation, I am always willing to help and my social life seems to be packed. Underneath that successful life I lead, lays a nervous, overthinking, procrastinating, mind racing, not feeling good enough, mentally fatigued inner self. I battle it daily. No day, hour or second is the same. I could be fine one moment and then in the next have fleeting thoughts on something being a mistake. I would never back out of a commitment but I would make myself almost sick trying to achieve the ultimate success and not let other people down. I sometimes go through my day getting my daunting to do list done but in a fog. I am not present in my day. I do not see the beauty that I normally would see. I am simply, moving numbness. In my mind, I am sometimes simply not enough.
When the depression gets bad, it freezes me mentally. I still function daily and get things done that I am required to do but there is no purpose to me and without that purpose, there is no drive. The pressure becomes overwhelming almost like you are drowning. You feel it in your chest and closing in on your head quickly to slip under the surface. There is an internal pain that is associated with it that is unlike any physical pain I can imagine. I don’t wish it upon anyone and I feel for anyone who experiences this despair. In the darkest regions of despair the painful pressure gets so mad that you find yourself seeking ANY sense of relief. I have battled these thoughts my entire life. Some call it being a perfectionist or type A but imagine if your inner self could only be quieted by the thought of cutting (no I have never done this and no I do not intend to. I am simply expressing a thought process). It has something to do with the pressure being built up so much in your body that you imagine a release for it. I let my mind go there and it quiets it for a bit when things are really bad. I don’t condone it but I understand why people take their own lives. It’s a sad epidemic and I hurt to think of the pain they were feeling in their final moments. It is unimaginable. I want to be VERY clear that I have 0 thoughts on suicide. I thank God (yes I am a believer and it’s fine if you are not, we all can falter and struggle from the same battles) that he has made me as strong willed and minded as I am, but there are many people out there that don’t have that same willpower against the quote unquote “demon” in their mind.
I haven’t told many people about these thoughts so it might seem odd that I chose to write this. I am bad with expression of true feelings and I can be socially awkward when feeling hurt. When I DO trust people it is to the fullest and when they betray that it can be blindsiding and hard to recover. Writing has always given me an outlet through the fear of rejection of life. I write to share with you a true battle that we all face. You would never know someone is going through it from the outside but always remember to check in with your loved ones and just ask how they are doing in life. Sometimes their answer back may surprise you.
Since entering my 30s, I have learned to ask for help when overwhelmed. I am not admitting defeat, but I know not how far my mind can bend mentally. I recently was tested to the absolute limit and I am thankful for a strong support system of a few people in my life. Without them, I honestly don’t know what this situation would have done to me.
To anyone out there that battles any part of this, always know this:
Never be ashamed of your thoughts, nor judgement. Your thoughts are your own and they are there for a reason. The key is to understand them and their triggers and to learning to stop your thoughts from spiraling out of control. Taking that deep breath, closing your eyes and see that stop sign in your head can make the biggest difference in your day. Sometimes you need to speak up and tell a loved one that you NEED them to call you and check on you. I did this recently with both my mom and my dad who always have thought of me as being the strong one in our families. People often assume that the strong are not ever weak, but the truly strong rise from the ashes of their weaknesses.
Socially Smiling and Raising Awareness