I don’t even really know how to start this because there is lot to say. There can sometimes be this stigma around mental illness that there shouldn’t be…but I think mental illness is a lot more common than we would think.
This is something that I’ve wanted to talk about for awhile, because it is important to me and also a big part of my life. At least for me, it really really helps to know that there are other people out there who struggle with their mental health, and that it’s not just me. So, hopefully this post can help someone know that they aren’t alone.
Anyways…lately, I’ve noticed people posting about their mental illnesses more and it’s helped inspire me to write out some of my own story. (And, you know, with this being Mental Health Awareness week at Brigham Young University, I figured, why not now?)
(Andddddd…here we go…)
So, this is me. And I’ve struggled with mental illness for the majority of my life (starting in 3rd grade). Most people probably wouldn’t guess that this is one of my struggles because I don’t often let the chaos inside of my head show on the outside. But chaos there is. Until recently, I attributed my problems to anxiety. It wasn’t until this year that I finally decided to make an appointment because I needed help.
One of the reasons why I was struggling was because I couldn’t read well. I was so worried that I would miss a word and/or not understand every little thing. So I would read, and re-read. Even when I listened to readings online (when available) I would rewind and rewind. I HAD to understand everything. If I didn’t, I couldn’t mark myself having fully read. I had a hard time even doing my work because I knew it was going to take me hours to even read a few pages. This was (and is) really really hard for me, and I’ve been struggling with it for awhile. But it wasn’t getting much better. After making an appointment, I was diagnosed with OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s almost turned into a fad to have OCD. Like, “Oh, I’m a little OCD about this,” type of thing. I didn’t realize it was that big of a problem until it was further explained to me. And I realized I had it. But there is a whole lot more to this mental illness than its stereotypes. For example, my struggle with reading. My obsession was that I had to understand every little thing, and my compulsion was to re-read and try to read every little word and understand every little thing. Perfectionism to the point of imperfection. I still have this problem with reading, but going to therapy has helped a little…you mean I don’t have to understand every little thing? I can just read and if I don’t get it I can just keep on moving on and still say that I’ve read? You guys, I just don’t know how to describe the relief I have felt after figuring out the source of these problems (+ that I don’t have to understand every little thing…I know, it seems silly. Ha. But it’s a very real thing to me.). I’ve told my mom that I just wished there was some sort of scan I could go through that would told me all of the things that were wrong with me. (I still wish there was something like that 🙂 …I think I’d pay big money to go through that thing.)
Now, I’m not going to bore you with some of my other problems. My point is this: You’re not alone. Recently, I’ve learned about a couple other people who have OCD and it’s comforting even just knowing that I’m not the only one. Mental illness is different for everyone, so you can never completely understand someone else’s illness, but it’s nice to know that there are some other people who (to some extent) know what you’re going through. Don’t be afraid to get help. It’s not that bad and if you’re anything like me and your mind races a cajillion miles an hour, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. Really though. Just try going. I’m not sure if this illness will ever go away in this life. It has become my “normal” because I know no other way. But I do know that our trials are given to us for a reason. I’m not going to lie, this has been one of my most difficult trials. One that has required me to learn to rely on my Savior, because I just can’t get through this alone. I know He knows what I’m going through. I just know it. Elder Holland said, “Trust in God. Hold on in His love. Know that one day the dawn will break brightly and all shadows of mortality will flee. Though we may feel we are “like a broken vessel,” as the Psalmist says, we must remember, that vessel is in the hands of the divine potter. Broken minds can be healed just the way broken bones and broken hearts are healed,”. I love this quote. And I know that I can get through anything with my Savior by my side, for He has prepared a path.
Also: click here for a free printable of Elder Holland’s quote. You can do this.