Worth Living Ambassador Michele King
Hi! My name is Michele and I am 28 years old. Living with both depression and anxiety, I want to be a positive force of change to help end the stigma associated with mental illness, with hopes that what I share will help at least one person who comes across it.
A Word of Encouragement
About a month or so ago I had a doctor’s appointment (non-mental health related). As I was walking up to the doctor’s office (my therapist and general doctor were located in the same building) I was reminded of when I used to come to there for therapy.
A flood of memories came back. I remember my first time going to therapy. I remember driving to that building, holding back tears, afraid of what it would be like, but knowing it was something I needed and that I would come out stronger and hopefully happier.
There were so many times I would go to that office and sit in my car full of fear because there is nothing more frightening than facing your own shit. I was scared to talk about the past and to be honest with myself and what I would find out about myself with each session. It was hard at first to talk about what I was feeling because I had let so much bottled up for so long. It was also hard to do the exercises the therapist wanted me to do. I had to dig in to my mess and face my demons head on. It was absolutely terrifying.
It got easier though. By the end of my therapy sessions I was coming to my therapist with things written down in advance that I was starting to recognize or that I knew I needed to talk about to help myself feel better. The exercises she gave me became a priority. Of course there were times when I didn’t do some, but I was kind to myself instead of beating myself up. And of course there were days where I didn’t feel strong at all. I felt like I couldn’t control what was going on around me and even had to call my therapist a couple of times to help me remind me to take breathes and calm myself down and see the big picture. Anxiety has this funny way of making you feel like everything has to happen this second and that anytime you “mess up” it is a catastrophe, but this isn’t true.
Once I did the dirty work and realized I was not my depression, I was not my anxiety; I was not my past. I realized I am simply me- a growing and evolving human being who deserves love.
I guess my point is once you get past the mess and the negative thoughts (that are absolutely lies) you realize you are a warrior and possess strength like no other.
When I walked in to that building about a month ago I laughed to myself and saw how far I have come. Of course I have my bad days; the difference is that now I have more tools and confidence to deal with them in a more healthy way. I am now able to give myself the same advice that my therapist would give to me, without actually having to call her or go see her.
So to anyone in the struggle right now I will leave you with this:
You are not your mental illness and you are not weak. It takes a brave, strong person to ask for help and to face their own demons. Don’t ever let anyone tell you different. It does get better. I realize how cliché that sounds, but I promise it is true. Keep facing your stuff and keep believing in yourself. Remember it is about progress not perfection. Be kind to yourself and even laugh at yourself along the way.