Hi! My name is Shannon, and I am very open with my mental health struggles on social media. I have an anxiety disorder, and I’ve struggled with acute stress disorder and depression. While this isn’t my full identity, it is a part of who I am.
I like to be totally open about it because I live with it every day. I am open because I haven’t always been able to be. I am open because there are so many people, my age and beyond, that have similar experiences and feel like they can’t talk about it or admit they struggle. I am open on social media because I want to show that a “normal” happy girl like me can still struggle with their mental health. It is all around us, and more common than you might think. I never want anyone to feel invalidated and crazy like I have felt in my life.
This is why I fearlessly express myself unapologetically. Here is my story.
Growing up, I have always had a strong sense of self. I know who I am, what I stand for, and what my passions are. I have always known that there is nothing wrong with who I am. Despite knowing that, I had people surrounding me that didn’t accept me for who I am, and that can make you feel like you are inadequate. It can convince you that you are unworthy of being your unique self that you know you are in your soul.
I didn’t really know what was wrong with me internally until I became more independent in college and moved away from home. I knew that the things I experienced growing up were not normal, and they had actually hurt me beyond belief on the inside. I didn’t realize that something like anxiety can impact someone so much, and hardly even knew it was a real mental illness that existed.
Because of this, from my first semester of college to now, I have struggled deeply with anxiety. On the surface at college, I looked totally normal. I was at my dream school and cheer team, and had amazing friends and support. But I was not myself. I struggled with my classes and felt absolutely worthless. I felt so conflicted and alone because I “wasn’t supposed to feel this way”.
Since then, I’ve been dealing with obstacles so difficult that it’s been hard to accept that this is my real life. My anxiety became debilitating, and I was so miserable that I didn’t even want to wake up anymore. There have been a few times in my life where I didn’t think I would make it, and that’s a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Mental health is physical health too. As my mental wellness deteriorated, my body felt the consequences. Heart problems, dizziness, and times where I had to sit out of the sport that I love so much are just naming a few. “Can you tell me what’s wrong with me?” is a phrase I’ve used often.
After a long period of suffering, something inside guided me and told me that I needed something more to help. More than my own attempts at self care and supplementing with therapy. I could feel in my heart that I could not keep doing this on my own. I decided to get help from a doctor and a new therapist.
While there are still so many lows, I can thankfully say I’m in a better place than I used to be. Healing doesn’t happen overnight. It’s included having to start a medication for the first time ever, lowering my expectations and doing the best that I can in my academic and professional life, and going through therapist changes to find the right fit.
The best thing I have ever done for myself is to keep trying and surviving, even when life feels so heavy and impossible.
I remain the same girl at heart that I always have been. The girl that has love centered at everything she does. I use my true self and passions to guide my life choices, rather than doubt and hate. I celebrate my accomplishments and try to learn from my sorrow.
This is why I encourage everyone to #lovebig everyday. This includes loving yourself!! When things feel unbearable, remember that you have known joy, you have lived joy, and you will feel joy again. You don’t have to pretend to be okay. Accept yourself in where you are at and go from there. Small steps can eventually make big strides! It’s alright to cry. It’s alright to start all over and begin again.
Stronger is my goal. Ending the stigma is my goal. If I could be so unaware of these issues for so much of my life, I know that someone else still is too. I want to be able to help fix that. That is why I am joining the WeCan Movement!! If you relate to any of this, you are more valid than you will ever know. I’m right there with you #mentathealthmatters