On Friday I decided that I wanted to take Monday off. I needed a mental health day. I am tired, I feel drained and I just need a “me” day. I don’t feel rested and I just don’t feel “right”. I want to press reset and regenerate some energy.
Let’s face it, having a mental illness is exhausting. It’s often hard to convey how I am feeling, especially when I am feeling anxious or agitated. Or when I become overly frustrated when I “lose my words” and someone doesn’t understand why that would bother me so much. It’s not just forgetting a word. I forget many words. It makes me sad and angry because I have an extensive vocabulary, I pursued an English/History Major, and I “have words” but they just don’t want to come out in conversations. All of this reminds me of “memory gaps”. I noticed that I don’t remember pockets of time, or certain people that I used to be friends with, and for the life of me, I don’t know why we aren’t friends anymore. Yet I can remember the exact outfit I wore the day I met my husband, what movie we watched, and I can remember conversations that happened several years ago.
While I have most of my symptoms in check and can function on a day to day basis (and an outsider would not suspect I have a mental illness), I find I always have the most difficulty with managing my anxiety. Anxiety has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. Once I started experiencing panic attacks, I thought I would never be able to travel, have a real relationship, handle anything “big” or work at a “real” job. I obviously proved myself wrong over the past 13 years.
So what have 13 years of panic attacks taught me?
1. I need to stop doubting myself because I can do more than I think I can.
2. I can still lead a fulfilling life.
3. Sticking to a schedule keeps my symptoms in check.
4. I need to pace myself and work at my own pace.
5. I need to set boundaries with respect to how much I can take on.
6. It’s okay to say no.
7. Nothing is perfect so I don’t need to be perfect.
8. Every day is a new day and a fresh start.
Not only is it important for me to learn these lessons, but it’s important for people who support me to learn lessons on how to help me (and others) with anxiety or other forms of mental illness.
A couple articles I recommend in particular are “13 Things to Remember if You Love A Person With Anxiety” and “11 Things Those Who Love A Person With A Mental Illness Should Know” – these seem to give solid advice and I hope my family and friends can benefit from these articles. These articles touch on subjects such as exhaustion, becoming overwhelmed, communication, and how to actually help.
Not every day is the same. Taking a day just for myself is just what I need right now. I need to have some me time and be on my own for a day. Let’s just hope I can actually let myself relax!
About Melanie Luxenberg
My name is Melanie Luxenberg and I am finally ready to live openly with mental illness. I was first diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder in 2003, which I still experience. At the same time, I was diagnosed with Social Anxiety (which I also still experience), and then briefly experienced Agoraphobia. I have had depression on and off since I was 13 years old. In July 2010 I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder II. Shortly after it was realized that I experienced rapid cycling. I can experience multiple cycles in a week. Despite my diagnosis, I completed a university degree and then a college program. I have always held stable employment, regularly taken my medication and regularly attended my doctor’s appointments. There have been times of hopelessness, but I have always found support from my family, husband and 3 dogs. I am a law clerk, social media/content writer and of course, mental health advocate. My Twitter feed is full of mental health advocacy messages. I hope one day to see the end of stigma towards mental illness, because stigma has to stop!