When Mental Health Doesn’t Look Like You Expect…

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mental-health

Let me tell you all a little story about mental health.

It is part horror story, part romance, a little drama, with a dash of psychological thriller.

Everything started with these flannel pajama pants.

I put these bad boys on, slipped my prickly legs in their warm and cozy softness and instantly knew the day had promise…

That was three days ago.

Three.

See, we all have preconceived ideas of someone who is mentally well or unwell.

Maybe we assume someone who is depressed is hidden under the covers for weeks at a time, unable to function…

or perhaps someone riddled with anxiety is constantly worried and frazzled and strives by a never-ending strand of yeses and people-pleasing.

And those aren’t always untrue.

But, for me, mentally well can look a whooooolllle lot like when I am barely hanging on…

because I’ve had decades of practice making sure others think I’m okay.

“How are you?”

“Great!” I reply on autopilot.

Not ‘fine’ because fine can sound suspicious and I need my mental illness to fly under the radar, soaring past those who are on high alert.

Friends, I didn’t receive a single diagnosis until I was well into my 30s and it was only a result of our extreme child’s diagnosis that I ever realized the physical pain, discomfort, sleeplessness, spiraling, and a million other feelings that had been my normal were actually NOT normal for most people.

I. Was. Floored.

HOW had I lived so long without knowing I was clinically insane?

Because I’m not.

But here is what I am:

I am a wife, a mom, an extreme parent, a writer, an advocate, a teacher, a grad student, a homeschool parent, a balancer of ALLLLL the things…

and I also have anxiety.
I battle seasons of depression.
I have PTSD and c-PTSD.

And none of those make me less of a human being, less of a ‘good’ person, or less worthy of kindness, gentleness, and understanding.

My anxiety doesn’t always look like worry or fear.

It more often looks like rage cleaning, emotional overwhelm, and outbursts of anger.

My depression looks less like being bed-ridden and more like forgetting to eat or eating too much and not coming out of my flannel pj pants for days because a shower seems too exhausting.

My PTSD and c-PTSD don’t cause me to react to the sound of fireworks with flashbacks but they give me night terrors and a constant feeling of dread–the knowing that something is wrong with the inability to pinpoint it.

These things converge as hypervigilence–the need to constantly be aware so my body is prepared to fight at the first signal of danger.

It looks like constantly saying “I’m sorry” even when I did nothing wrong.

It looks like hyper organization, endless two-do’s, and self-worth entirely based on performance because I just can’t make sense of anything else.

It looks like caring for everyone else and sometimes forgetting even my own most basic human needs.

And, friends, THAT’S. OKAY.

So, if you spent waaaaaayyyy too much on Halloween because 2020 kicked your whole a*s and you just needed some kind of good memory with your kids…

or if you are watching Elf and putting up your tree today, even though you previously swore to never erect your tree before Thanksgiving because you HAVE to hold on to any glimpse of hope right now with the election and Covid and everyone’s brand of crazy swirling around you.

Here me when I say: DO. IT.

Put on your flannel PJs, drink coffee all day, and do what makes you happy.

Because, guess what?

The dishes, the laundry, the school work, the job assignment, the endless to-do list will still be there tomorrow.

I promise.

So, today, just for a moment, let’s support each other. Flannel pants solidarity because mental wellness looks as different as mental illness and none of it–and none of us–is wrong. 💜

-B. 

*Grab the mug pictured HERE.

**Follow me on IG @themamaontherocks

*Snag my books and resources.

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