Living with GAD, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder, Samantha’s actions are dictated by her mental illnesses. Through her struggle, she’s learned that it’s okay to say no. Even though we may feel defeated at times, Samantha’s journey reminds how far we can go in our healing.
A truly authentic soul, read Samantha’s story of surviving and thriving through her multiple mental illnesses.
Explain the origin of your mental health issues i.e., what is your mental health issue, how did you realize what was happening, how was it affecting your everyday life at the time?
My mental health issues started mainly in high school. I had severe anxiety and was constantly depressed even though others didn’t see it. I went through all of the motions, but inside I was dying. I cried all the time and contemplated suicide a few times. I was depressed, but I didn’t know it and everyday I was constantly fighting a silent war inside my head. The first time depression was brought up was at a doctor’s appointment in eighth grade. I didn’t know there was a word (depression) that went along with how I had been feeling for so long. I struggled a lot with anxiety and obsessive thoughts to the point of insomnia and exhaustion and it was hard not having anyone to talk to. No one talked about mental health and mental illness.
What was the resounding moment when you decided to get help? What made you do it?
Honestly, I would say I took very small steps in getting help. I was afraid to talk to anyone in my family about my mental health and I think I mainly fought through my battle on my own with the help of my girlfriend. She has been my biggest supporter and with her support, I realized it was possible to get better and feel better. With all this being said, a huge moment I allowed myself the opportunity to feel better was when I finally agreed to try taking medication. I made smaller steps as well to get help, such as using walk in counseling and reaching out to my parents about my previous struggles years earlier with my mental illnesses.
How does it affect your everyday life now? Challenges? What skills have you learned to cope?
I have been diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder and recently, bipolar disorder. My mental illnesses are a huge part of my life and often dictate my actions which is something I am trying to work on in therapy. I am challenged everyday by my anxious thoughts and my depression definitely acts like a huge block of cement that is tied to my feet at all times. Even though I struggle immensely, I am thankful that I have my Instagram account where I feel like I can share and connect with others. I am constantly learning about myself and I think I will be apart of a life-long journey towards recovery.
A skill I’ve learned that helps me cope is acceptance. It’s harder to deal with my anxiety when all I want to do is push it away. It helps to acknowledge the thought is there, to accept how I feel in this moment and to let it pass.
How has living with this mental illness benefited your life? What has it given you?
This is a tough question! Living with my mental illnesses have given me so much resilience that I didn’t know I had in me. I have been pushed to my limits and through all of these challenges, I have become a much stronger person. It has also given me the chance to become a more accepting and empathetic person. Struggling with my mental illnesses has given me a much more open outlook on people; you never know what someone is going through and so it’s important to be kind and authentic to every person you interact with.
What is one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were struggling the most with your mental illness?
It’s okay to say no. It’s okay to admit you’re not okay and that you need some time and space to just breathe. I think in some of my most darkest times I felt completely defeated and like a failure, but in reality, I was accomplishing a lot considering what I was going through. Living with anxiety and depression can be completely exhausting, both emotionally and physically and it’s important to realize that you are trying your best, you are doing your best and that in the end, it will be okay; you will be okay.
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