About a month ago, I started counseling for the first time. I knew I needed help and I had been masking a lot of my mental health issues for a while. Although counseling should be making me feel better, I am in a stage where it is really hard. It is exhausting to begin to recognize all the ways my anxiety manifests in my life. I’ve known I had anxiety for a long while but I didn’t realize how many parts of my life were not normal to constantly worry about.
My therapist told me I have extreme anxiety. Different ways this manifests in me is a racing heart and feelings in my stomach. I have dizzy spells in adulthood but I had always chalked it up to low blood sugar or low protein from veganism or dehydration. However, my recent bloodwork says I am extremely healthy and not vitamin deficient. There are a lot of parts of me that I always thought were cute and quirky, like my forgetfulness and how I go on tangents and jump around when telling stories. I called myself longwinded, but again it is anxiety-induced. I could go on and on (as long-winded as I am) on the various symptoms I possess but just know it is vast.
Recently, I have felt my anxiety is getting worse and worse. But frankly, I feel I am just more aware of it. I have suppressed my anxiety using my own symptoms of anxiety: fears of look inadequate and of disapproval. I always thought no one wants to be friends or work with an anxious person. So I buried it deep and masked it with a smile and swore to take care of others above myself.
What if we made it the norm to talk openly about the things we are struggling with. I have a handful of friends in my life that I can do this with; you know who you are and I am thankful for your openness and acceptance of me. However, I also have friends who have ignored me when I tell them about a problem or my mental health. And partially that may be because it is challenging to help others with their issues when you are struggling yourself. It can feel very overwhelming to talk about mental health. I have done this far too many times. When others have talked to me about issues they are having, sometimes all I can do to cope is tune them out and just be a listening board. I’m not saying it is right but I am saying I do understand when others have a hard time hearing about what I may be going through. But it also can feel like an incomplete friendship when it’s completely ignored.
Ultimately, I started this blog and my Instagram to help my coworkers and friends who wanted to eat more plant-based, then growing into helping others with general wellness. But when those tips and habits weren’t enough for me, I needed to find someone to help me. After opening up about my own mental health issues on here, I have had many people resonate with it and reach out to me to check on me, which is extremely challenging. As someone who always wants to appear “good” because of my anxiety, it can be hard when people talk with me about what I write and check-in with me because it causes me to recoil into my old habits. I immediately deflect and put a smile on my face. Some days I am good and some days I feel as though I can’t even handle someone checking on me. For those who have checked in, please keep doing it. If I deflect, I give you permission to hold me accountable.
We often talk about wanting to be seen and heard but how often do we even allow that? I know I crave people to understand me but I rarely let people close enough to do just that. This is something I am going to work on in my relationships: allowing my full, anxious, sometimes depressed, adventurous self to be seen and heard.
Will you join me?
I am not okay, but I am enough.