Mental health is important. It’s everywhere and effects a lot of people. Some people you know about and others don’t open up about it for whatever reason or they hide it. We’ve been talking about mental health more in recent months and it’s something that should always be talked about. There’s no shame in mental health – just because we can’t see it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t take care of yourselves in that sense.
Yet, mental health is a tricky subject. There are still people out there who don’t “agree” with mental health or don’t think it “exists.” This is bizarre to me, but maybe that’s because I have mental health issues myself that it’s hard for me to put myself in someone’s else’s shoes and believe it’s “all in my head.”
Mental Health Monday is a new feature I’m adding to the blog in 2019 that will be posted once a month. I’ve started talking about my mental health more in 2018 – though I’ll admit it was just a handful of times on Twitter (I think). I wanted to talk about it more in 2019 and beyond. I also wanted to add more “personal” posts on this blog and mental health is a huge topic and it’s a huge part of who I am.
Why I’m Opening Up
Like I said, I’ve never really talked about my mental health before. Despite wanting to do more personal posts and letting you guys get to know me more, I wanted to talk about my mental health on the blog – for the whole Internet and world to see – for one reason only.
I have been diagnosed since I was 16 – so it’s been about nine years. If I remember correctly, I was diagnosed in January or February. Needless to say, it’s been a long time. Aside from a few close people who knew, I never talked about it. Even though I had been officially diagnosed by a professional, part of me still wasn’t sure what was “wrong” with me.
When I quit my job almost two years ago now, I’ve done quite a bit of soul searching and – this will sound weird but – I’ve done a lot of research on myself and my mental health. This has led me to become ready to be more open about my mental health and about who I am as a person.
This is who I am.
I don’t know what made me decide to do the research. I don’t know why I had waited so long. I don’t know why I had decided to do it after I quit my job. Maybe it was because I didn’t know what I was doing with my life. I didn’t know how to get from point A to point B. I made a huge decision. I took a big risk. Maybe it was because of that I decided to do some soul searching. Not to mention, a lot of things have happened in my life that was effected by my anxiety. I took the time to finally sit down and figure out what goes on in my mind.
I did the research, which consisted of reading articles from The Mighty as well as going on Pinterest. It was the biggest eye-opener I’ve ever had. Every article I read was me. Everything that was listed in those blog posts were things I think about every day. They were things I do, things I say. Little quirks I have are “normal” for someone like me. It was weird for me to realize that because even though I’ve been diagnosed and I know it’s a common thing, I always thought I was the only one.
It made me realize, this is who I am. This is normal for me. I’m normal, even if others don’t always see that.
I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
I’ll save the diagnosis story for another time, but I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. A lot of people think there’s just “anxiety” and that’s it, but there are various kinds of anxiety. Some get it worse than others, some are diagnosed with different types. I don’t have just anxiety, I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I’ll explain more about what GAD is in the next post.
Until then, I hope you enjoy this series. I’m looking forward to talking about it. I’m ready to open up.
I hope you enjoy this new series on the blog. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.
If any of you follow me on Twitter, I’m sure you saw a couple of tweets from me at the beginning of the month about me being away. My blog was still running as scheduled, but I wasn’t reading or commenting on anyone else’s blogs. I wasn’t answering comments on this blog and I was barely on social media.
I was in Canada for EGLX – Enthusiast Gaming Live Expo – for my other blog, Double Jump, and also for myself.
My sister Kris and I have been wanting to go to a gaming convention or expo for a really long time now. Pretty much all of the YouTube gamers we watch was going to be there. They ran a couple of panels and put on a show. This was an opportunity we knew we couldn’t pass up.
I don’t do anything spontaneous. I’m an organized person, I have slight OCD, and I need to have a plan for the day, the week, the future, everything. I know plans change and things come up and I’m a pretty flexible person, but I’ll admit there have been a few situations where I’ve been agitated or upset because something didn’t go as I planned.
Being spontaneous is a good thing, shaking things up is a good thing. But sometimes my brain doesn’t think so.
I haven’t been on an airplane since I was 3. I don’t remember it and just tell people I’ve never flown before. So many things have changed since then anyway. I also have never been out of the country. I’ve never taken a trip without my parents. Yes, I’m 24, but I still need my mom and dad.
So you can imagine my reaction when Kris burst into our office one day and said, “By the way, we’re going to Canada!”
I should also mention I’ve never really planned a vacation either. I mean, I have, but with my parent’s help or my aunt and uncle’s help from the times we’ve gone to Disney with them.
Kris and I had to figure out how to book a flight, get our passports, figure out money and currency exchange, find our way around the airport, decide how to get from the airport to the hotel, the hotel to the convention center, and back again. It’s a lot. I knew it was going to be a lot but it’s one of those things you don’t realize how much work it is until you actually do it yourself.
But I did it. Kris and I did it.
Why am I explaining all of this even though this trip was mainly for my video game blog? Well, I wanted to explain that we’re capable of doing much more than we think. This trip was a huge eye-opener for me.
I have generalized anxiety disorder. I won’t go into too much detail about it. Maybe someday I will, but for now, I’ll leave you with this: some days I do well, other days it kills me.
Being on an airplane, for example, flares up my anxiety. I know a lot of people get like this with flying, so it’s pretty common.
I’m going to Disney in April where I will have to go on an airplane. The last few times I’ve gone, we’ve driven down there. I’ve been panicking and sometimes dreading going to Disney, the happiest place on earth because I need to go on an airplane.
What if the plane crashes? What if we, for some reason, can’t get home? What if I get claustrophobic? What if I have an anxiety attack in the middle of the flight? What if I have to go to the bathroom or start to feel sick? What if someone else on the plane gets sick?
There’s always that “what if” for everything in life, but now I know what to expect. Now I’m actually excited to go.
I had a great time on the plane. The flight was only an hour and a half and it went by so fast. Yes, I did have an anxiety pill, but I honestly don’t know if I really needed it. I got cookies and apple juice on the flight which was really good. I watched the map and followed where the plane was and where it was going on the way there. On the way back I watched Mrs. Doubtfire and had pretzels and apple juice.
On the way to Canada, I sat in the aisle because I was nervous the window would make me sick. I didn’t want to stare into the abyss to remind me of how high we were. On the way back, I sat by the window and loved watching the plane ascend and descend. I loved seeing the buildings from above. We were also sitting right next to the plane’s wing both ways so that was certainly cool to see as well. I’ve never seen a plane up close before.
I was also nervous about the expo itself. Kris and I were going to be in an unfamiliar place, a large room filled with, what seemed to be, a thousand people. It was crowded. It was loud. There was a lot going on. I don’t do well in those situations.
But I did it. I was fine and I had a good time. Sure, there were some moments I felt claustrophobic, but there were so many things to do and games to play, I was able to keep my mind off it and just focus on the good.
And I did this for three days in a row.
I’ve realized something important about myself while going on that trip. I knew my anxiety was all in my mind, but this proved that it really is just in my mind.
I’ve always wanted to travel but never have because I was afraid to leave my house. I was afraid I’d die on the plane.
It was amazing to see all the art and talent of various people who share a love of video games. It was fantastic to see the YouTubers who have inspired me to do what I do today. (Our hotel room was right next door and across the hall from a couple of them!)
It may seem kind of silly, but even though I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was in elementary school, these YouTubers have changed my life.
A few of them have anxiety and/or depression and talk openly about it which has helped me a lot. Their videos are funny and entertaining that I’ve watched them in the middle of the night a few times when I had too much anxiety and couldn’t sleep. They’re very open, kind, and welcoming to anyone and everyone no matter their race, sexuality, mental health, or anything.
They’re just a group of friends who do what they love for a living and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do – what I am doing.
I can relate to them on so many levels: working from home, doing what I love for a living, my mental health issues, my overall goals for why I do what I do, and more.
I want to inspire people the way they have inspired me. I want to make people laugh. I want to make people feel loved and welcome in this community I’ve been building with my blog (and beyond). I want people to feel safe and comfortable when they read my work or watch my videos (when I get the channel up and running).
I want people to look at me say, “If she can do that, I can do that” just like I’ve done with these YouTubers.
I want to explore the world and before going to Canada I didn’t realize that was a thing I could do. I did it because I wanted to see those YouTubers in person. (And also because Kris was able to pay for me… Thank you, Kris!)
I want to teach myself new things and I have been. I’ve been teaching myself filmmaking and video editing so I can start a YouTube channel for this blog (and also for Double Jump down the road). I’ve been drawing more. I’m not very good, but maybe I’ll get there in time. I want to publish books. I want to create a literary magazine or something similar. I want to create a video game.
That’s not even the half of it. There’s so much I want to do. I want to do it all. Maybe I will, maybe I won’t. But the possibilities are endless and my creativity can go as far as my imagination, which, I’ve come to realize, is pretty endless itself.
Canada seemed to be the first step for me. It opened a new world for me and I came to realize I can do more than what I think I can do.
Maybe someday Double Jump will have its own panel at a convention. No, I don’t want to be rich or famous, but I’d like to make an impact on people’s lives. (As well as make a living off it because… bills.)
Maybe someday my creative works – no matter what form, video, blog, writing, etc. – will inspire and help others.
Of course, I can’t give all the credit to those YouTubers and to the fact I went to Canada. I went to Canada and I do what I do because of the choices I’ve made and the way I’ve decided to spend my time.
I do what I do because there are so many people who visit my blog on a daily basis and actually care about what I have to say.
This is a long post, probably the longest I’ve ever written on this blog. If you’ve read this far and you’re still reading, I applaud you. Thank you for reading this through.
I didn’t mean for this to be so long and corny, but it’s the truth and I felt it needed to be said. I had this realization through my trip and breaking out of my comfort zone, but there was also something else that happened to make me realize this.
The other thing that made me realize all this isn’t a happy story like Canada. It’s gotten me down for quite a while now. Though that’s a story for another day.
I’ll say this though: I’m happy where I am in life. I’m happy with the things I’m doing and the things I’m trying to do. My anxiety holds me back sometimes, but I figure it out. I have a good head on my shoulders (I think so, anyway). I have a good support system with friends and family who love and encourage me to do what I do. I’m a pretty lucky person.
But I guess I’ve rambled enough. Thank you for reading. Thanks for listening. Thanks for being here and taking this journey with me.
Have you ever taken a risk in life? Done something you didn’t think you could? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked this post, please share it around.