"Saving face"

Being worried about what people may think, is an annoying thought that occasionally/sometimes more often than I'd like, pops into my head. Being worried that they think I am going crazy. Being worried that I will let them down. Being worried that I am still not good enough. Being worried that I am a burden on them. Those are the main thought patterns that I experience when I am feeling my anxiety or trying to run from my depression.

I have now been "healthy" again for 3 years. 3 years of battling, fighting, drowning, swimming, running and sitting with my internal pain and thoughts. Resilience and inner strength (my inner ninja) are words that come to my mind when I reflect on how far I have come. Sometimes I forget the journey and can feel like I am right back to where I was 3 years ago. The difference is now that I know who I can trust with myself and know that if I reached out to those special people, they'd be there in a heart beat.

What I struggle with now is, that I don't want to let people down by telling them I am not ok. Telling them that I have no idea why my anxiety or depression in playing up. Telling them that I wish I could run a little bit faster so the depression didn't catch me anymore. How do you find the words to say that to the people you love? How do you find the right words. The words that tell them what is going on inside, but then don't freak them out and worry them.

I think I know the answer to this. The answer is educating people about mental illnesses. Sharing our stories and lived experiences with each other. Learning from the struggles of others. Being truthful to ourselves. Breaking the stigma and self-stigma that can debilitate us. No judgement. By doing all these things, and implementing positive change in our families, friends, communities and society as a whole. We can improve and potentially save the lives of people living with mental illnesses or people who are struggling.

We can never know enough. We can always learn more. We can always share more. We can always listen better. I can't stress this enough. It is simple. Listening to a person who is suffering or who has reached out is key. It can actually be the difference in life or death for them. YOU can help. You don't need to be a Harvard professor in psychology to listen to people. Just be you. If you are lucky enough that a person wants to and trusts you, to share their pain. There is a reason for it.

Live, breathe, embrace.


Tenille Westerhout