An Open Letter on Mental Health from Taylor Elliott

Mental health,

I’ve struggled with anxiety, panic attacks, and depression and let me tell you, it can be really scary and lonely. It’s frustrating because you know you’re having irrational thoughts and that those invasive thoughts do not mean much in the big scheme of things, but you can’t get them out of your head. The simplest tasks turn into daunting jobs. My panic attacks take over my whole existence. It’s embarrassing and I end up feeling ashamed. I walk around ripping my hair out wondering when it will stop, I can’t breathe. My chest gets tight. I feel alone. I feel like no one understands me.

I don’t know if I really told anyone about my struggle until a few years ago. I wanted to be a “bad b*tch” who didn’t care about anything and I didn’t want to address the truth about my own situation. I’m not going to lie, coming to terms with myself and admitting I had trauma and mental health issues was hard. It was scary because I didn’t know where to turn. I was embarrassed that my tough outer shell was crashing down around me. Slowly, I started talking to friends and family about what was going on. I started to understand how common mental health/mental illnesses are and how few people are actually talking about it. Once I started my mental health journey and talking about it, I felt slightly more “normal” and a little bit better.

My mental health affects me every day. It’s not going away, but at least I am slowly understanding it and feeling stronger. I have good days where I feel like I’ve almost overcome my trauma. However, the bad days do still creep in and make me feel defeated, and that’s ok. That’s the biggest lesson I have learned so far – It’s ok to feel that way.

I’ve noticed I have a lot of triggers – my main one being social media. It makes me feel like a failure and consistently tells me that I’m not good enough. I’ll start to feel anxious and if I don’t try to take control of it I’ll have a week or so of panic attacks. If you have ever had a week long of panic attacks, then you know it drains every aspect of your being. When I say take control, I mean deep breathing exercises, yoga, not drinking, sleeping when I can, and using grounding thought techniques I have learned. I’m still figuring out what works for me. The process is a learning experience full of trial and error. I am trying to be more forgiving to myself and am trying to break the chain of negative “self-talk.”

I think the biggest thing about mental health is normalizing the conversation. I don’t mean just sharing on Instagram to “check on your friends,” which is a great start. Let’s have those difficult conversations. Let’s show up for people in little ways: bring them food if you know they are not eating, tell them you are proud of them, tell them you SEE them, and really take the time to listen. Show up for them in big ways If you can. If you think someone is really struggling or spiraling out of control, don’t leave their side no matter what. Mental health crises  are scary for everyone involved. If they are willing, take them to a clinic so they can get real help and be there for them when they get out. Tell them how deeply you care about them and how proud of them you are. Show up for people anyway you can, big or small. Let’s normalize that we are all struggling and it’s okay not to be okay. We all have dark days, but I think together we can make this crazy world a little more comfortable for everyone.

If your reading this I care about you, I love you, I’m proud of you.

-Tay

 

If you are in crisis and feel you have no one to turn to call,

Mental health online resource – https://www.mentalhealthishealth.us

National suicide prevention hotline – 800-273-8255

Sexual assault hotline – 800-656-4673

Domestic violence hotline – 800-799-7233

Substance abuse hotline – 800-662-4357