Hi friends – you might remember me from past #BellLetsTalk posts such as “I’m here for you” and “if you ever need anyone, you know where I am”. And both of those things certainly remain true. If you ever need someone to talk to, I am here. But today I’m going to do something a little different, a little harder. Today I want to share.
For the past few years I have been knowingly suffering from anxiety and depression. I say knowingly because only in very recent years have I known what this is, but if I look back to a much younger self it has been there since at least my teenage years, interfering, holding me back. I didn’t know what it was back then, I thought maybe I was lazy, or I was caught up in some breakup or the various other traumas of a teenage boy. This continued throughout my 20s and into my 30s, I lacked the tools to know what I was actually dealing with and I never would have thought to socialize something so terrible with anyone else. Surely this was mine alone to deal with?
When it comes to any sort of mental illness it’s hard to figure out where you are at sometimes. I have spent the greatest part of my life happy. Certainly on the outside. Even on my worst days if you encounter me out and about you’ll find me smiling, laughing and telling jokes. I like making sure the outside world sees my best foot forward. But some of those days you’ve seen me like that, I’ve gone home a wreck and I’ve hidden under blankets hoping the world would stay far away. Mornings are the hardest for me, I don’t know what it is. There are mornings where I just feel a crushing weight and it’s hard to move. Sometimes, it’s impossible to move.
And I know I’m lucky. I’ve the luck of a great family, supportive employers and employees and great friends. Some are not so lucky. I manage to function 99% of the time. Some are not so lucky.
The point of all of this? I wanted to share. I want you to know if you’re quietly suffering, or if you feel guilty for the weight of that 1% of the time you cannot function, that that’s ok. It took 30ish years for me to realize the quiet thing that was happening inside of me, and more still to slowly identify it and put it in its box as much as possible. As I slowly begin to understand my own issues and slowly start to socialize it with people I begin to understand: I am not alone. Not by the largest of margins.
And I wanted to let you know that if you’re feeling like this, or if there’s some doubt inside of you about whether you might silently be suffering I would strongly encourage you to talk to someone. Start with a friend, your spouse, anyone. It feels good to get it out there. After you’ve done that contemplate taking the big step: talk to a professional. It’s fucking terrifying. You’ll want to throw up as you dial the number or hit send on the email. It’s ok. On the other end of that is the first step towards building the tools and understanding that will help you live a life that is fulfilling.
I must also hold myself accountable. Another thing I will share. I’m awful at getting the help I need. I’ll go long periods without picking up that phone or sending that email, because it is hard. I recently had to crash out hard in order to get back going, and even then I haven’t followed up or kept at it in a way I probably should. It’s ok to fuck this up, but take care of yourself. Bring other people into keeping you accountable, share your successes and your failures. Don’t sweep it under the rug.
You are not alone, and we live in a time where we are enlightened enough to deal with our demons openly. If you push them down it will only raise the personal cost. It is ok to confront this in the open and to talk about these issues. I am certainly here for you.
I love you all.