“All it takes is a beautiful fake smile to hide an injured soul and they will never notice how broken you really are.” — Robin Williams

The pain in your chest – You can’t decide if it is a vice grip being turned tighter by each ticking second or an elephant sitting on your sternum. All you know is that it is hard to breathe. The bigger the breath you try to take, the harder it is to push this invisible weight away. Clutching your sides, bending over and screaming. So loud are your screams, you go to cover your own ears, only to remember you’re standing silently in a room full of people. How can you feel so alone and be surrounded by others?

Some days it seems like you are in a bubble, able to see the world passing by, but not able to participate fully. One part of you is dark and sad – unsure as to why, when to the “world” you seem to have it all together. One part of you is questioning why you are feeling this way when so many others have it “worse” than you. Another part secretly craves to have others there for you, almost like being back on the playground and not wanting to be picked last for the teams in recess, but all the while still isolating yourself. You suffer in silence as to not be a burden to those around you. You take care of your loved ones and give to others, but what is left for you?

The seemingly insignificant suddenly becomes Mount Everest, and only continues to grow until you can’t see the light anymore. The bubble you were in turns into a long, dark tunnel surrounding you. You want to scream for something, for someone, anything but your voice is silenced. Silenced by fears brought on from past experiences and trauma, not to mention society. Who would understand anyway? Why would anyone else care when they have their own lives to live and issues to handle? Does everyone feel this way? How do you find the light when it is gone?

I am YOU. Is it you too? I am this way for many reasons – mental health issues (anxiety, panic attacks, and sometimes depression), the product of my raising (most everyone bottled up their emotions), trying to keep others happy, and pretending everything is ok. I was a total Disney kid, so I am placing some blame there too. (Slightly a joke, but if you know you know. Haha!). I’ve been working on myself and trying to make sure I don’t get into the dark tunnel again. It is not easy and is a constant battle, but for me I want to keep fighting. I want to keep fighting not just for myself but for YOU. I am in no way an expert, but do have some things that have helped me over the years:

  • Can you CONTROL the situation? I try to focus on things I can control, everything else is going to find a way to work out or not. You can control how you react, not the actions of others.
  • Find an outlet. Walking, yoga, meditation, writing, painting, etc. Find something that is just for YOU. Make time for it, but do not put too much pressure on yourself about your outlet.
  • Realize you are NOT alone. There are so many others that have similar issues, and it is ok to not be ok. Give yourself some grace. Take time to feel what you feel and then come up with a plan to improve the situation.
  • Talk to someone. A professional is always an option, but if you are not ready for that just yet, talk to someone you trust. You need a judgement free zone.
  • Decide when you are talking to someone if you want solutions (their help/opinions) or just to vent. This will go a long way in you being able to open up more freely.
  • Seek professional help. When I finally talked to my doctor a few years back, she let me know that I did not have to “white knuckle” through life and situations. Also, if you have a family history of mental illness you are more likely to have issues as well. So it is OK to seek help and even take medicine if needed. I do and am so thankful as it helps – it does not take it all away, but gives me a better ground to start on.

Mental health is a topic that is still a bit taboo to discuss. This needs to change. I share my story in hopes that others will see it and know they are not alone. That sometimes even the ones you think have their shit together are falling apart too. I usually end my posts with “Practice random kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” I’m going to end today with – don’t be so quick to judge others, you truly do not know what they are dealing with; life can be hard and it does not cost anything to be kind. If you can’t be kind, keep your comments to yourself and move along.

Thank you for allowing me to share a small part of my journey.

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