My wish for those suffering with mental health issues is peace.
We are smack dab in the middle of Mental Illness Awareness week. I think it's safe to say we are all aware of mental illness, but you may not be aware that people you know suffer from it. I am one of those people. In fact in the past few weeks after I had written a post about my struggles with depression and anxiety I had someone I've known for many years say they were surprised to read that. They had no idea. I will admit that compared to many people my struggles have been minor. I have never required medication or hospitalization, but I have spent time in a therapist's chair.
I do believe there was a point where things could have spiraled out of control if not for the early intervention and the determination of my mother. Believe me when I say my Mom is good people. Love her. I admit to carrying my own baggage regarding mental health issues. I tend to play my depressive/anxiety cards extremely close to my chest. It's not hard to imagine why when you have the shadow of your father's mental health issues and subsequent suicide looming over you. In fact even Mike rarely knows when I've had a dip or a down period until after it has passed. I have often referred to the first year of Abby's life as both the best and the worst time in my life. It was an incredibly hard year for me to get through... almost the most amazing. The first time I said that out loud Abby was well into the toddler years and Mike just about fell off his chair. I guess I'm a high functioning depressive. I had another down time about two years ago, that passed unnoticed by most people. Fake it, till you make it is, apparently, my motto, but it's not a course of action I would recommend to anyone. This practice comes from my own issues, see above.
I feel like I have lived most of my life in some state of anxiety. Social situations were almost paralyzing. I know in many situations I can and have come across as bitchy, stuck up and/or rude. It is not something I enjoy about myself, but I felt physically unable to change it. Friends and family have told many people many times - Oh Shannon's just shy, but to be truthful it went well beyond shy. I find it hard to adequately explain exactly what it does feel like. Mike and I were talking recently about how I continued to suffer from back to school anxiety long after I was finished school. He wasn't able to understand how I could just not be anxious about it, that knowing I wasn't going back to school should have been enough, but it wasn't. At all. My life was filled with situations like that.
These days I live anxiety free. I don't know how it's happened, but it has. Shannon of before never would have run on the trail by herself. She wouldn't have signed up to run in a race by herself. So if you happened to see me cross the finish line and burst into tears in the arms of my family that would be why. It wasn't a simple race to me that day. It was so much more. The Shannon before would have attended Meet The Teacher and stood silently by while Mike initiated the conversations with the teacher's only then would I chime in. Shannon this year visited the classroom's by herself. I also stopped in to welcome a teacher (not my kids') back from mat leave and to thank another for signing up for council duty. The Shannon before wouldn't have been able to do that. Shannon this year is Chair of Parent's Council at the school. Not co-chair... chair. There is no one to hide behind, I have to run the meetings. I have to do the talking and I'm looking forward to it. The Shannon before would of had a sidekick for the fair to help out with the social media. Shannon this year wandered the fair by herself, stopping to chat with all sorts of people instead of keeping my eyes on the ground and praying people didn't see her.
I've lost 33lbs so far and people keep saying, you must feel great and I feel so great, I can't even begin to tell you and it's so much more than just smaller pants.