September 30, 2017

"I spent years sweeping my feelings under the rug, because that's what my family taught me is the right thing to do." – Dawn

I grew up in a family where we didn't talk about mental health so all the issues I was dealing with were swept under the rug. I was always told to pray about it because prayer solved everything and I knew/felt that wasn't true. I wanted to talk about it and find out why I felt the way I did or why I hurt myself, physically and mentally, the way I did, but no one in my family wanted to help me with that.

Fast forward to getting married too young and my ex-husband joined the military causing us to move thousands of miles away from everything I'd known for the last 21 years. To cope, I first started by drinking all the time and continuing to ignore like I had been taught all my years living at home. I eventually couldn't cope because it got harder and harder to get out of bed in the morning and be a functioning normal person. It still didn't seem like enough because I still didn't have support or someone to talk to that understood what was wrong and why I felt the way I did.

Medications just numbed me and made me feel like a shell of a person and I went with it because it helped me at least function, but I still continued to drink. When we were moved to Germany I added pot to my life and it made my problems disappear even more, so in a sense they were still being swept under the rug.

My ex-husband and I decided to take time apart from each other, but before the military allowed us to do that we had to go to counselling. It was the first time I became aware of the fact there were people out there who had jobs that revolved around talking to people and helping them, and I was in my mid-twenties. It was insane to realise that I could have gone to talk to someone years ago to help me sort out my problems.

Once I was finally sent home from Germany to my hometown I fell into my old pattern of life. I spent an entire summer drunk every day and basically not dealing with anything because I was back living with my parents and I felt like I was in high school again. I knew I had problems and they should be dealt with, but the ‘prayers is the answer’ was shoved in my face again. I eventually dived into the counselling thing again and it took me a while to find a counsellor I trusted and seemed to help me, but everything was focused on my pending divorce and dealing with those feelings and issues.

Now that I am in my thirties, I am finally at a point where I know I have mental health issues and have found a wonderful therapist who is helping me with that. I've learned what has been troubling me for so much of my life that no one was every willing to address. I look forward to my sessions with her and delving more into things that no one has ever told me I had that were why I felt like life was so difficult.

It is weird to hear words like anxiety and depression or that I have been living with a sleep disorder for years. To finally feel like I am on a path to figuring my life out and have a wonderful support group in my husband, therapist, and friends who struggle like I do. It's great to know there are ways to feel better and know you are not alone.

Due to all the years I spent sweeping things under the rug, because that's what my family taught me is the right thing to do, I tell people what I'm dealing with and am transparent about it.

I don't drink and I tell people why. I have bad days where I don't want to be touched, looked at, or anything, so I tell people why. I don't want anyone to wonder why about me, so I tell them because it is nothing to be ashamed of.

Mental health should not be something we should be ashamed of and talking about it to anyone is a great way to heal. It may in turn help people who don't deal with it to understand those who do and not treat them like they are wrong. Never sweep your mental health under a rug. Tell people about it and find support because in the end it will make you feel stronger and better.

There are so many bad things going on in this world that we need to be loving and lifting each other up. One way to do that is to understand things you don't struggle with. Be supportive of people with struggle and ask them about it instead of putting them down. Love them instead of harming them more. You could be the one to make their day better.

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