Today's truth, Tomorrow's story

January 10, 2017

I'm writing this post as an 'everyday' category because this is what I go through on a daily basis.

I battle with depression, anxiety and bipolar. Altogether also known as 'manic depression'.

These are labels that I have struggled to come to terms with. It wasn't an easy diagnosis as there are so many blurred lines and symptoms that are shared between all 3 categories.

When I was initially hospitalised, I was diagnosed with severe depression and anxiety. I can confidently say that if I had gotten medical help earlier, I would probably have been diagnosed with a milder form of depression and anxiety which may be associated with symptoms such as fatigue, sadness, irritability and lack of motivation.

There is a whole lot of stigma which surrounds the idea of 'Mental Health'. This stigma was what made me hesitate getting help in the first place. It made me think that if I asked for help, I was weak. That this was just all in my "head". If I could just snap out of it, everything would be better. All those motivational quotes on Pinterest telling me that this was all a "mindset" - Change your mindset and change your life.

I am sure that there is an amount of truism in all of that. Though, perhaps the way things were phrased in the past were too simple to be associated with the complexity of mental health.

The more I tried to tell myself that I need to be better, I need to pull myself out of this dark pit, the more my mind tells me that I'm truly pathetic, I'm weak, I'm worthless, and worst of all - "I'm never going to get out of this". That is depression and anxiety talking at the same time.

I cannot emphasize how critically disabling it is when both anxiety and depression go hand-in-hand. Depression tells you that you're unable to do anything, yet anxiety tells you if you don't do anything about it, you're basically doomed for life. Depression further enforces your lack of self-esteem, while anxiety reaffirms your failures.

It is a mental sickness that cannot just be snapped out of. It has become a state of mind that has somewhat inhabited and plunges deeper with each thought. That is, if help is not attained.

Just like if you were to break a bone. Say, you break your arm. Sure it may heal on its own without any medical treatment or a cast, though it may not heal right and you'd be left with a less accessible arm than before. Continue applying pressure to your broken arm without rest, you'd never heal. Getting the right treatment and sufficient rest allows your arm to heal correctly. 

Just like mental illness, even though we can't see the physical damage that the brain has undergone from this sickness (and we definitely haven't got bandages around our heads though it would be much helpful for people to understand if we did), it is there. It is real. And it is affecting 1 in every 3 people.

If we fail to acknowledge the reality of this sickness, we'll continue using this unhealthy organ without giving it rest and correct treatment, leading to an organ failure. 

The process of HEALING takes time. The healing process differs between every individual and the types of therapy differs based on the type of injury and severity.

For example, a broken arm may take 6 weeks to heal. Depending on how severe the fractures are, it may take up to 10 weeks. Younger children heal quicker at 3 weeks. 

People with the ability to accept traumatic past events may have a higher rate of healing from mental sickness. People who are more ready to accept change and learn new ways of thinking can heal quicker. There are also people who require more time to understand why they had to go through what they did.

To question someone on the amount of time they need to heal is literally insane. As a stem cell scientist, I couldn't predict the amount of time it would take to grow an organ. It depends on so many little factors like the cell types, the cell environment, the amount of nutrients, the environmental factors that have affected the patient's cells. It's just absolute nonsense to question time. And this of all stigmas, infuriates me.

I'm not going to hide from the truth anymore. I believe I went through what I did in order to better understand myself, and for me to share my story to help others.

Today, I blog about my battle with depression and anxiety.
Tomorrow, I will help others with my story.

Rachel W.
Celebrated my 25th birthday with my family and my favourite cupcakes from +Wondermilk :)
I've made it this far because of the huge support and love from my family.

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