Mental illness is a silent killer, taking the lives of its’ victims with very little warning. It forces the victims to stay silent because of a stigma, a shame that is attached to a diagnosis that very few understand.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at me or talking to me that I suffer from Anxiety Depression. I have learned how to mask my issue so that only those who are close or who have the same issue as me know what’s really going on. In a way I have become a sort of chameleon, adapting to my surroundings so that I can better blend in and hide. I remember asking my mom a couple weeks ago if I was anxious as a child. She said I was very anxious and I worried about everything and anything, but it comes with the territory I suppose. Most of my family have some form of mental illness or depression, genetics can be a bitch at times.
I didn’t start dealing with my Anxiety Depression in a healthy manner, because well first off I didn’t even know that’s what was wrong with me. I pushed my feelings down and tried to ignore the thoughts that seemed never ending in my head. I thought I was crazy because normal people don’t think the way I do, they don’t map out every little bad thing that can, will or might go wrong. They don’t have a constant worry of abandonment combating with the urge to just disappear. I was afraid to tell anyone about my thoughts cause mental illness has always had a stigma attached to it and I just wanted to be normal.
So how did I deal with all the crazy going on inside my head. I started cutting, I would allow the thoughts in my head to have power over me and they won everytime. But when I would cut the voices would stop I had control no one else. I felt like I was controlling my own pain, but I was only making it worse. Then when I thought about telling someone I would hear comments like people who cut are weak or just do it for attention and I would immediately shut down. Was I really weak? I hid my scars so no one would find out so how did I want attention?
It wasn’t until my younger brother witnessed me cutting that I decided to stop. He was comforting and didn’t judge what I was doing. He could see that I was in pain and helped me by letting me talk out my issues. He was my light in that moment and that’s all it took to stop, but that darkness never went away. His words kept me from picking up another blade yes, but the want never stopped.
It wasn’t until I got into lifting, specifically powerlifting that I started to feel happier and more confident in myself. I found something that finally made the voices in my head stop without harming myself and I was thrilled, but what happens when I’m not under a barbell in a squat rack or focusing on my form in my Bench? The voices, the darkness it finds its way back in and then it all comes flooding back like a bad dream. I had become someone who I didn’t recognize anymore. I always tried to be this embodiment of strength, a woman who needed no one. When in reality I needed something, someone to save me from myself.
So at this point you’re probably wondering what’s the point of my story. Well after years of ignoring my issues I did something about it, I was a mom and a wife and I needed to be strong and I needed to be well. So this past January I saw my doctor and she diagnosed me with Anxiety Depression and put me on Zoloft.
I’m not a fan of medication and I was terrified of not feeling anything, of being numb to every emotion. If anything the medicine in combination with powerlifting has helped steer me in a direction where I can better deal with my anxiety depression. When I’m feeling anxious I no longer allow it to consume me, I’m able to take a breath and focus. The battles I never my head are no longer won by thoughts of falsehoods and my focus on powerlifting has never been better.
I believe now I’m no longer a victim to my Anxiety Depression, I am a fighter and one thing powerlifting gave me was the mental strength to deal with any obstacles thrown my way. So if you’re battling with any mental illnesses don’t be afraid like me, seek help and know that it’s ok to be different. Normal is in how you define the word, not in how society labels it. So go be your own version of you and write a story of truths instead of one of masks and camouflage.
Your Resident Barbell Goddess