Over the last four years, my life went down a vortex that I could never have imagined occurring. My life was safe, comfortable and reasonable in every aspect until I turned 30. I would wake-up with a clear head, planning out my day ahead as I woke up. Catching up with friends for evening outs, hitting my workouts daily and enjoying my downtime between work and these events. Never looking over my shoulder or feeling blanketed in fear.
To start the downhill slide, I was in a long-term relationship with someone I cared very much for. Yet, unfortunately, she was dealing with her issues of being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). She had brought it up as soon as I met her and was completely honest with me, and I was not impacted by it until I was at a point where I needed to end the relationship due to other reasons.
Within a short time after breaking up with her, the BPD took full effect and the actions that occurred for the next 12 months left me with PTSD and other mental health struggles.
During this time of trips to the emergency room, phone calls at 3 a.m. telling me I was the reason she was about to end her life and attacks on my business, my father informed me that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease.
The diagnosis was not much of shock as I had seen him change in many ways over the past years; now, it just gave a reason to it all. However, the digression of his health and ineptitude to fend for himself shook me immensely as the months passed.
For the last 6 months of his life, I would go home and see him and my mom once a week. As I rode the bus out to their place, I would mentally prepare myself for the inevitable change that would have occurred over the last seven days. And on the bus back at night, I would completely shut down from any feelings I had about what was happening to him. That shut down feeling would last for the next 48 hours.
I had a bit of a mantra during that time that went like this:
Prepare for a shock.
Be the son I needed to be for Dad and Mom.
Wall off any feeling for 48 hours.
Finally, a hidden growth of cancer inside of Dad ended all of this. That resulted in my complete walling off of feelings for the next year.
I allowed myself to wallow in sorrow for two months then realized that if I was going to be able to move on in life, I needed to start doing things in my days that could eventually fix all that was going on inside me.
I started working out again six days a week.
I created a morning routine to create some structure in my life, even if it only lasted for 45 minutes of my day before it all fell apart again.
Meditation, yoga and journaling became things I attempted more frequently.
Yet the most significant focus was on continuing to see my therapist, now with a new mindset of not being ashamed about it. The place where I tested this new and scary honesty was through social media.
Social media had been a big part of my life before all of this. I used it to create a platform that could help grow my business.
I felt that it would have been a poor representation of my life and integrity if I just disappeared when in a low mood. Only to appear when I could show some positivity in my current day to day.
One night, as I was lying on my bed, curled up into a ball and staring at my bedside table, (which had become a regular thing in my day), I pulled out my phone, opened up my Instagram stories and hit the record button. There was no getting myself prepared or worrying about how I looked with my face was half in my pillow and eyes red from crying. With no idea where I was going, I started talking; I just wanted to show that life sucked at times and that was OK.
I talked about how much I missed my Dad and how it hurt, yet I realized I was not the only person in this world dealing with this exact feeling at this time. I voiced how I wanted people to see this side of reality and me, hoping that someone watching might be able to relate and not feel alone.
The feedback I got from the story was all positive. I even had some people who I didn’t know reach out to me and thank me for my honesty because they too at that time we’re feeling down, and it became such a positive thing to see that I was able to push forward. It gave them hope that they could too.
My fear of showing myself in times of weakness changed that day.
I started using my social media platforms as my outlet for what was happening to me. Twitter became a tool where I could say what was going on at that exact moment, with no filter or desire for fine-tuning. Once tweeted, there were quick replies of positivity and others relating to what was said.
Instagram Stories I found as a useful way to talk to my second therapist: my followers. Talking about what made me sad at that time become therapeutic for me. The second use I found was the ability to show others what things I was implementing at that time to help me feel better about the future.
I was being able to show what foods I was eating and why.
I gave my workout for that day including explaining how to do each exercise.
I recorded my step-by-step actions taken in my morning routine.
Months passed, and so did the interactions on each post; the positive feedback from others who were taking notes of what I was doing was growing.
This inspired me. I wanted to create a space where I could give a full step by step insight into how one could achieve mental health, why you might do it, and what is possible to get out of it in the end — giving birth to my blog.
All of these posts and creations of content originated for the sole focus of doing something to help myself. The bonus from doing such came in two forms: one – I could show others who are battling the same things as I was in the mental health realm my areas of success and areas of failure; the second is far more valuable, though – I found a way to have a therapist with me daily.
My act of speaking so vulnerably to those following gave me a space to vent.
It also gave me a space to get feedback from someone who may be able to look at things from a different angle than me.
But most importantly, it has given me a way to analyze every single thing I do and then look back at it later in a new space of mind when possible.
I have become far more analytical of how I feel, what I think of it, and what I have done in the past to address it.
Mental health is a fluid realm where no one thing activates the on and off switch.
We are in this together, so use those around you who can help.
Remember that you are Never Alone.