It’s Okay to Not Be Okay

May 11, 2016

Sunday evenings are the bane of my existence. Just the thought of them makes my heart turn to brick – heavy enough to drop into my churning stomach. The creeping thoughts of the upcoming week cloud my mind with dark storms, for I fear the stress and possible failure that I could face in the following 6 days at school, dance, work, etc. I’ve always hated Sunday nights growing up, but there is one in particular that felt worse than any other.

Now, this Sunday night didn’t just come out of nowhere. There is quite the backstory to it, actually. It’s not an easy tale to tell, but I am going to share it with you now in hopes someone, somewhere, will learn from my battle.

Since I graduated from high school, life has not been “peachy keen”. The summer leading to college, I faced many disappointments, heartbreaks, and far too many goodbyes. I thought these bumps in the road would make me more excited to transition to the new lifestyle of college, but boy was I wrong! The upsetting thoughts from that summer were even more prevalent once I left home, and I found myself unable to thoroughly enjoy the college experience. On top of that, the school I thought was my “dream-come-true” turned out to be quite the opposite.

The truth is, I faced a very dark side of myself when I first ventured off to college. I felt as though there was a dark cloud always lingering above me, and I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I had always prided myself in being optimistic and happy, but every situation I found myself in seemed to me as a “glass half empty” kind of deal. I would wake up disappointed that I had to go on living – failing to see how blessed I was to be alive. I missed who I once was, but I felt hopeless and afraid that I’d never find the best, happy version of myself ever again.

I made the difficult decision to transfer closer to home in hopes I’d find that girl inside of me somewhere else, and I couldn’t be more grateful that I had! Finding my place in a new school was working, and I felt as though the shadow days of my past were long gone.

I never wanted to feel the way I had when I first left home, and I didn’t for quite some time! I spent most of that first semester at UW-La Crosse with a better outlook on life and a hope that I was finding “me” again. Then, sophomore year came around.

With sophomore year came a whole new set of classes, jobs, extra-curricular activities, and worries. Before I knew it, I was spiraling down into a pit of fear. I was so afraid to fail and go back to the depressed mindset I had worked so hard to get out of since I transferred.

I kept trying move forward, but it was like my own thoughts were working against me. My worries and fears would sit in the back of my mind, waiting for the perfect moment to take over every thought and destroy me. I’d be taking a quiz or just packing up my backpack when the fearful thoughts would strike, telling me I was not strong enough to face the day or that I was just one wrong step away from being the sad person I was when I had first gone off to college. They’d cause my breathing to become shallow and my hands to tremble as every inch of me would go numb. I felt as though I was losing control of my own body and my fears were taking over my life.

Sometimes these fears would shoo me out of class to run to the bathroom in tears. Sometimes they’d paralyze me to the point where I couldn’t move off the floor. They were unforgiving, and they never went away. Then, that Sunday happened just several weeks ago.

From the moment I lifted my head off of my pillow, the fears were there. It felt different this time, though. Instead of my haunting thoughts fading as the day went on, they consumed me entirely. I completely shut down. I avoided my friends and spent the day locked up in my room hoping I could cry my fears away or simply sleep them off. I felt hopeless in a way I had never felt hopeless before, and “snapping out of it” seemed nearly impossible. I wondered how I could ever go on in life feeling the way I did, and I despised myself for it.

It was a day of darkness, even though the sun was high in the sky. I chose to spend that day being a coward, afraid to share with anyone how I really felt. The days strung on like this, and I just couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t want to feel this way for a second longer.

Then, I did what I never thought I could do. I mustered up all the courage I had inside me and decided to take control of my thoughts again.

The first step was the hardest, and that was finally asking for help. That moment, calling my mom and admitting I couldn’t do this alone, was the bravest I’ve ever had to be.

Now, my struggle with my fears and thoughts hasn’t stopped, but it’s gotten easier since I decided to be brave and ask for help in facing my struggles. I’d always heard people say “it’s okay to not be okay,” but it didn’t hit home until the people I cared about said it directly to me when I was having one of my cloudy days.

Struggling with a mental illness requires a lot of bravery. Sometimes getting out of bed takes up all the courage you have, and other times it’s admitting you need help. Today, my brave is writing this post and sharing my battle.

Remember, there is always hope and help waiting for you on the other side of your fear. So, take your first brave step today. You can (and you will!) get through this. And, most importantly, know that you don’t have to get through this alone.

I believe in you,