One of my goals with The Clique Official is to be open about my mental health struggles. Each and every time I have opened up about my experiences it has allowed me to give someone the opportunity to share and open up to me as well. I think for anyone struggling with their mental health, it’s important to know that you’re not alone and that you are not the only person feeling this way. I also think that it is important to have an open dialogue about mental health overall, the bad, the ugly, AND the good because there is good that comes from it.
I will be the first to tell you that I have looked down at myself at times for having depression and anxiety. It is so easy to feel inadequate or like you have something to be embarrassed about because of it. Still, I will also tell you that dealing with my mental illnesses has made me a better person.
My brother passed away my senior year in high school and my world fell apart. I got into such a deep dark place. I never imagined that I would be saying any of this five years later. I thought deep and dark was all there was going to be. I was hoping that someday I would find the old me again or discover a new me and I did. While I would never want to go back and live through all of it again, I am extremely proud of the person I am today because of it. Here is what I have learned throughout this journey.
From my early days in school, I would always get the highest grades on my writing assignments. It was something that just came naturally to me. I also found it easiest to express my emotions through writing. Sometimes I felt like they were emotions I couldn’t express or would be misunderstood. Thus, I would write poetry and journal.
One night after my brother’s death, I opened the Notes app on my phone and I wrote a poem. Though it didn’t necessarily make me feel better instantly, I was able to put those emotions into words. When similar emotions surfaced months later, I decided to start a blog. However, it was just going to be for me. I had no plans of sharing it or letting anyone know it existed. I just started writing and although I didn’t want to share it, I made it pretty. I spent the time to research a platform, pick a theme, images, write an about me, etc. Some part of me knew that I would share it someday.
That blog, Jane Doe Unidentified, helped me get through some of the hardest moments of grief after my brother’s death. Little by little, I had started to share the blog with close family members. Before long, I decided I wanted to share it with everyone.
The day of my brother’s first anniversary, I posted my blog on Instagram and Facebook. I received a lot of great feedback, but the best was from a girl I went to high school with. She said that my blog helped her understand some of her grief after a family member’s death. That one message made me feel amazing. I felt extremely vulnerable putting my deepest, darkest, innermost feelings and thoughts out there for the world to read. It was actually nerve-wrecking, but that feedback I received actually helped with my grief.
This little outlet that I found gave me a little taste of what the world of blogging is like. What I liked most was the impact that my writing and what I had to say had on people. So I started another blog about all the things that I am passionate about and here we are today.
Dealing with mental illness really makes you focus on the small details of your life. While doing talk therapy, we focused on the things in my everyday life that made me happy. Small things such as cooking or going to the gym or writing that helped me get out of my head. I was taught to focus on those small moments of happiness. Through that practice, I learned to appreciate all the good things around me. We overlook a lot of these activities because they are so mundane. However, those are the things that make our everyday life worth living. This practice made me realize that I need to do more of those mundane things that make me happy.
I never truly knew what empathy was until my brother passed. Now I can relate to and empathize with every emotion that my loved ones feel. Overall, I feel that I have become more compassionate and considerate. In all honesty, compassion is one of the main qualities that I require of the people around me.
People can be so cruel. What we don’t realize is that we have no idea what someone may be going through. I have gone through hell emotionally and have had put up a facade that I was okay. People in my everyday life never considered that I may be going through a difficult time or day. I feel that the world expects perfection at all times and we aren’t perfect people. We are all flawed and we are all human beings.
Compassion is an important quality that every human being needs to possess. I didn’t realize how important it was until I needed it from others. Having and continuing to face difficulties, I do my best to extend compassion and empathy to others in my life.
I can honestly say that God has truly tested my inner strength with this recurring obstacle that is mental illness. Even before my brother passed, I had been through a lot of difficulties. I was always able to come out of the other side stronger, but all of that seems minuscule compared to everything I have dealt with since my brother’s death.
Some of it, I honestly can’t tell you how I did it because I genuinely have no idea. Other things, I legit had to fight and claw my way out of. Even so, every single time, I came out stronger. Although my faith has definitely been tested with my brother’s death, I thank God every day. I have everything I could have wanted at this point in my life and I am healthy. In spite of everything I have had going on emotionally throughout the past five years, I was able to push through. There were moments where I desperately wanted to give up and I could have easily been somewhere completely different. Nevertheless, God allowed me to find the strength to overcome all of it.
Losing a loved one really teaches you to appreciate every little moment with those special people in your life. You really learn to cherish the small moments, like watching basketball together and going out to eat on a random weekday just because. Before my brother passed, I feel like I took a lot of people for granted including him. I came to realize all the ways that he added to my life. Now when I really miss him, I think of the little things like what he would think of Lebron’s career moves and the words of encouragement that he would give at a certain moment or the silly jokes he would make at the most inconvenient times.
Aside from my brother, I came to realize all the people around me who are always looking out for my well-being. I have learned to appreciate all of those who brighten up even my darkest days. When you lose someone who you care for, you begin to see the little things that you once thought weren’t so significant. I always tell people to love those around you while you can. Life takes some crazy turns and you never know who will be here tomorrow so appreciate them now. Make sure they know how much you love them now.
Life is difficult. I can honestly tell you that I got emotional and cried writing this post. Depression and anxiety is something that I struggle with every day, but it has also allowed me to grow in ways I never imagined. Having and struggling with mental illness is always so negative and dark and I feel that it’s important to find light in all that darkness, the silver lining.