Pushed to the point of complete breakdown, it was an emotional conversation with her father and best friend that led Soraya to make the decision to start her journey with therapy.
Centered and motivated by the power of humanity, this wonderful, gracious soul teaches us a lesson in meeting our fears.
Read Soraya’s bold, beautiful story below.
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?
I was worrying a lot! Anything and everything was a disaster. I remember not being able to feel my fingers and thinking there’s this annoying bass beat in my head and I wish it would just shut up so I could think! I was driving down the freeway and was so flustered I had to pullover. I rang my dad and started telling him my problems and he was patiently offering solutions and I was pushing them all back going round and round in circles. I was the prophet of doom. By the end of it, I was in a fit of tears and he simply asked if I was in a rut. I think him saying that finally gave me the ability to admit to myself that I needed help. I have since been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.
Looking back, the signs were always there – progressively getting louder until I was forced to listen. In the weeks leading up to that event I was having severe lapses in concentration, my heart would race so much that I would wake up in the middle of the night and most mornings I could barely get out the door without crying. I could recognize beauty and good, but I couldn’t feel it. I would burst into tears if I saw a rainbow because I wished something so beautiful would stop causing me so much pain. It was ridiculous!
What was the resounding moment when you decided to get help? What made you do it?
It was that conversation with my father. That finally gave me the courage to firstly admit to myself that this was not normal. Being able to say out loud that I was NOT okay. At that point, I really did not care about myself but I thought about the pain I would cause if I were to do something stupid. So, I went home and I told my best friend. God sent me an angel because she listened without judgement and booked me an appointment with the doctor the very next day. If that hadn’t happened, I probably would never have gotten help. Mind you, I still thought – I don’t need to do this. This is silly. But, she took me to that appointment and waited to make sure I went in.
How does it affect your everyday life now? Challenges? What skills have you learned to cope?
Anyone who has a mental illness knows that it is hard. It probably never goes away, but you do become better at managing it. I feel like I’m standing on a cliff, overlooking the ocean. You always have the cliff’s edge at the back of your mind. Some days you stand there and you can appreciate the view and how beautiful it is. Other days, the wind is howling and you are afraid you will fall. Some days, you feel completely alone. But most days, you realize you aren’t the only one. There are others with you. Some just as scared as you are and others holding your hand enjoying the view, willing you along.
The greatest challenge for me was acceptance. Once I accepted I will have good and bad days, I no longer wished rainbows didn’t exist. This is why I love your blog. I think we are all Works in Progress. And that’s ok.
How has living with this mental illness benefited your life? What has it given you?
I have so much more patience, empathy and capacity for love (both for myself and others). It has taught me gratitude and not to be so cynical. It has made me realize how very fortunate I am. I’ve been given so much support and kindness from my friends and family. Something I took for granted before. And I have made a lot of new friends along the way. I have been more open and I’m constantly surprised at the power of humanity. I am constantly blown away by the strength that others find within themselves and the greatness that can be achieved out of so much sadness and despair.
What is one piece of advice you would give yourself when you were struggling the most with your mental illness?
Practice guilt-free self care. Cut yourself a little slack! It’s ok to slow down. I find that meditation helps. Also just let it out. Talk. I write to myself, I talk to God, I talk to others. Put it out there to the universe. The moment you feel “off,” put it out there to the universe. Tell it your fears. Ask for help. Ask for whatever you want. I promise you will feel different.
Are you a work in progress? Share your story in the comments below and you may be featured on the blog!