Things Friends and Loved Ones with Mental Illness Want You to Know

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Whether your friend or loved one has depression, anxiety, or some other long-term mental illness, there is so much going on in their brain that they want to say to you, but find impossible to say. So many emotions are buried beneath the surface, so much they wish you could know. But when you’re in the middle of these emotions, it’s so hard to tell the people who love you about what’s going on your mind.

Being vulnerable hurts and takes time, especially when you’re confused, hurting, or numb to the world around you. So here are seven things that people who battle with mental illness and mental health would like you to know.

DISCLAIMER: Not everyone with a mental illness will relate with these. I am not a psychiatrist, or have any degree in psychology.

We really don’t know.

We have so many emotions or such a lack of emotion, so we aren’t lying when we say we don’t know. Our rational mind has no excuse or reason for what we’ve done or the way we feel. We wish we could give you a concrete answer, we wish we knew how you could help, how we could help ourselves. We’re afraid to explore our emotions or to poke our dead mind back to life. We’re afraid you won’t believe us or understand. So we just don’t know, and we don’t try to know.

We’re afraid.

So afraid. We’re afraid of ourselves, of failing, of giving in, of giving up, of failing you, of hurting others. We are afraid of waking up and we’re afraid of falling asleep. We’re afraid of letting people see what we’re really like. We’re afraid of how we’ll react to situations that normal people are fine with. We’re afraid that we’ll never get better, that medicine won’t help, that we’ll end up weighing you down. We’re afraid of everything that happens in our mind, and we don’t want it to translate over into our life. At the end of the day, we are afraid.

We’re trying.

You might not like our reactions or seeing us struggle, but think how painful it is to be the one struggling with it yourself. We hate it as much or more than you do and we’re trying so hard. Every day we’re waking up and trying. Some days, it’s more fruitful and we are able to function like you. Other days? Celebrate that we’re out of bed. Celebrate that we’re talking. Be thankful we’re smiling. Because God knows we’re trying.

We try, we take our medicine, if we have some. Or we just sit there, to be with you, when all we want is solitude, all we want is sleep, all we want is to pace around the room and try to quiet our mind as it frantically thinks. But instead, we’re with you. We’re trying, and we’ll keep trying.

We’re tired.

Not only is insomnia one of the most common symptoms of mental illness, fighting your mind and emotions, keeping everything bottled and neatly packed away takes so much energy. But we aren’t only sleep tired. We’re tired of feeling, of not sleeping, or if we’re hyposomniac, we’re tired of sleeping, we’re tired of living like this, tired of being needy, tired of trying to smile, tired of not being believed, tired of feeling guilty.

We’re tired of not being normal, we’re tired of trying to fix ourselves, we’re tired of eating, of feeling, of breathing. We’re tired of hearing our heart thunder in our ears, tired of our breath coming in heaves, tired of a mind that won’t give us relief.

We don’t remember.

When we say we don’t know or we don’t remember, we truly don’t know or can’t remember. It might be something as serious as forgetting what we did at a party, or as simple as not remembering the first half of the day. We don’t remember. And we hate the fact that a part of our life has been swallowed up and dissolved by our minds. We’re sorry that we don’t remember the awesome time we had, or we don’t remember when we first met, or that we don’t remember being hurt or being yelled at. We just don’t remember.

We’re sorry we don’t remember saying something, we’re sorry we don’t remember hurting you. We’re sorry that we can’t answer your questions at the moment, we can’t do our school work at the moment, and we’re sorry we missed another meeting. Someday, we’ll remember it all again.

It physically hurts.

Our head throbs with our heartbeat, our muscles are so tight you could strum them like a musical instrument. Our chest feels like it’s being crushed, our arms and legs weigh a hundred pounds. We’re nauseous way too often. Food is disgusting or we eat way too much. When we say we have a headache and skip dinner, we really have a headache. Every sound, every sense, the air even has a taste. It’s all intensified to such an extent that if we don’t hide, it’ll cause us to explode.

I’m okay.

How can we tell you that we’re dying inside? How can we explain emotions when we’re not even sure about? How do we know if this is what normal people feel like, or if it’s something wrong with us? So we’re okay. Because we choose to press it all down, to hide it for you. Because we don’t want to be that morbid person, we don’t want to weigh you down. We don’t want to hurt you or wear you out. So we’re okay. Because we love you. And we want to be okay.

~~Amie~~

People

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Thoughts have been swirling in me, and I’m just going to let them out. Will I delete half of this post? Probably. Will it matter? Definitely not.

People are important. How can I stress this enough? From my brainstorm partner that brightens my day with her smile, to my friend that pokes fun at me for not having a “guy” but still genuinely cares about me, to the one that I call to have a heart to heart for two hours.

And the people that have burned me. The ones that have caused my eyes to overflow, and stream pain down my cheeks. Those people, they’re important, too.

At one point in my life, I thought I was too broken to heal, too heartless to love, and too hurt to feel. So I pushed everyone away. Those who cared and those who spoke heartless platitudes alike.

Hating humans, blaming them for the pain I felt, and hurting people like they hurt me. Because that’s the only fair way to respond to the pain of life, right? The stronger you are, the heavier your hand, the drier your eyes, the better you are at handling pain.

But that isn’t true.

People help you through pain, they help the wounds heal, help your mind to dwell on things that matter.

This topic is so important to me, because my people are important to me. They make life so much more livable, each adding a different shade of sunshine. And when one tells me that they worry about me, it makes me want to cry. Because it means they care.

Underneath all of our sarcastic banter, underneath me avoiding them for a month, underneath our business, each of us have a heart that needs love. Sure, love stinks sometimes, but it’s so worth it. When you find someone who actually cares, when you finally see that even through the pain, love sets you free.

Let people in. Let people see the you that you’ve hidden underneath layers. Stop trying to be lovable, because when you stop holding up a picture perfect facade, you’ll finally feel free. No longer sweating underneath the layer, you can be you.

And people will love you.

At first it may seem as if no one cares about who you are. But after awhile, God will bring people in your life that care. That want you to live this life to your fullest potential while serving Him.

Please don’t let those who have hurt you, or the circumstances that have torn you ruin the rest of your life. Don’t let them ruin your memories either. There’s always a gem of a good memory, even in the bad.

So take that gem and shine the light on it. It’ll certainly sparkle back.

~~Amie~~

P.S. As my readers, what are some topics you would like to see me write about, talk about, discuss on this blog? I’d love some ideas. 🙂

My Message (+ huge announcement!)

I’ve written a lot on here about mental health. At the moment, mental health and Christians who deal with it are very close to my heart. Why? Because I’m one of those Christians.

Especially Christian teens that deal with it.

I’ve talked to lots of people in the mental health and disability communities. A little known fact about me is that I grew up in the disability community. My favorite people didn’t look like me, and I would grow livid if anyone talked down to them, or hurt their feelings for that reason.

And so when I appeared in the mental health community, I wasn’t sure what to say or do. Especially since I was apart of it.

I’m not an expert. I’m not super smart. I’m just a teenager going through similar things to you, and if you’re just starting your mental health journey, I’m in front of you, extending a hand to help you. To give you hope.

I hate admitting I’m not okay. What are you supposed to say to people? They expect you to be okay, they want you to be okay. And someday you just have to realize that it’s okay to not be okay. You don’t have to carry the weight of their expectations.

This week I found out that apparently I have anxiety, depression, and dermatillomania. I’ve never considered myself an anxious person, but apparently I am?

(Dermatillomania is the repeated picking of your skin, to the extent that you have open wounds on your skin. It’s related to OCD and anxiety, and yes. It’s really painful and really embarrassing and super super super gross.)

I’ve battled with dark thoughts, with losing the person I’ve always known as me. I’ve struggled with things that I would never wish on anyone else. Even though I wouldn’t want people to go through it, other people do go through it, and so the next best thing I can do? Help the people who are struggling with it.

And so I’m doing something huge.

I’m publishing a poetry book.

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One of the ways to express the feelings that I wasn’t even sure I was feeling was to write them in poetry. To express truths and pain in the same poem, so I would know that even if I felt this way today, the truth is that it would be better.

Fifteen will be launching October 23, and it’s a book filled with poems about mental health. About the pains of trying to be okay, but not being okay. It’s filled with hope, because in the end, you don’t have to live with the demons in your head. You can get help, you can get better. It’s filled with the sunshine that follows the tears, it has the lullaby that soothes your fears.

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I didn’t want to publish Fifteen originally. I didn’t want to put this out here, to have to work on this. But slowly, God showed me that this is my message. These poems are going out there to help you.

Because YOU have helped me so much.

Fifteen will also have hand drawn illustrations (and a few painted ones!) depicting the story as well. My prayer is that it’ll reach your heart and help you in your mental health journey, even if you aren’t a poetry fan.

And maybe it’ll help you understand others or still touch your heart even if you don’t struggle with mental health. Even if that isn’t the thorn in your side.

So raise a glass, my friend! Let’s celebrate this news!

If you’re super excited, go to my Instagram, follow me, and share my announcement post on your story because AHHHHHH. IT’S REAL, FOLKS! AFTER SO MUCH WORK.

Also, if you’re interested in being apart of the cover reveal, GO SIGN UP HERE!

~~Amie~~

The Importance of Physical, Mental, and Emotional Health in Art

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If you have been following my blog for over a year, you know that I’ve had a bit of a struggle with my mental health. For months I lived in a haze of depression, and today I still have to battle it daily, along with the impulse to destroy myself due to anxiety.

A lot of my mental health issues were linked with physical health, and so today, I thought it was time to talk about the importance of physical, mental, and emotional health in art. Some of you might have just balked. Physical health? How does that affect art? And emotional health? Don’t we need emotions to impact people in art?

We’ll be taking a quick look at each of the different categories during the post, and what I’ve found to be helpful.

Physical Health

The clock showed that it was one o’clock. Another night of only sleeping five hours. Another night when my brain kept me awake past the time most humans should be awake.

Insomnia has been one of my greatest enemies. It has hindered my artistic pursuits, and my regular day – to – day life. One night I decided that I had had enough. I was going to figure out how to fix this problem.

Physical health affects more than we tend to realize. The food we eat, the amount of activity we indulge in, and the amount of water we drink really does matter when it comes to art.

Art is a type of work that uses primarily your brain, and if you don’t have a keen and healthy brain . . . well, your job is going to be a lot harder. Just as athletes must train, eat healthy, and drink lots of water, I’d like to argue that artists need to do the same.

Personally, to help my insomnia and brain fog, I’ve found that avoiding certain foods my body is sensitive to was the first step. I try to eat high – fat, high – protein meals, as well as a lot of vegetables and fruit. Water is also my best friend. Not only does it (along with avoiding chapsticks I’m allergic to [yes, I have a lot of allergies]) make my lips hydrated and full, it also helps me feel better. XD (Such a lame ending, goodness.)

How do I take care of myself physically? Glad you asked. XD Besides my food, I like to wake up a 6, in order to make time for some “me” time and exercise. Directly at 7 (am. Yes, it’s early), I’ll go on a walk with my dog, and if I get back soon enough, I’ll do a ten minute exercise. I also exercise around 6 or 7 in the evening, in order to tire myself out for bed. If I’m doing a lot of computer work throughout the day (writing, anyone?), I’ll take a break every 20 – 30 minutes and do as many pushups as I can.

I tend to follow the diet that is shown on this YouTube channel

This is my favorite channel for exercise.

Mental Health

I feel like I could also encompass “spiritual” health in this category. (Which is just as important as all of the other things!) Mental health is one of the biggest things in art. If you don’t have the motivation to get out of bed, how are you going to get up and create some art? If you aren’t happy, how can you make people smile?

Eventually the inner turmoil will come out. Perhaps art is your therapy, and if it is, no judgement. I’ve found, however, in my own art journey that it’s so important to at least be aware of your mental and spiritual health as you create. If you’re not, then you’re in danger of a major burnout.

For my mental health, I religiously take A LOT of vitamin C. I know, a strange thing to take for mental health, right? But I’ve found that it helps my brain fog, it helps my joint pain, and it helps my fatigue and depression. My mom can even notice a difference with my outward personality. Now, I’m not a doctor, so I can’t guarantee this to work for everyone, but it’s worth a shot, right?

I haven’t been able to find anything yet that has helped my anxiety. If any of you have a natural suggestion to help me, drop it in the comments. I need help to keep me from tearing off my skin and pacing the house. 🙈

For my mental and spiritual health, I wake up at 6 every morning, unless I’m sick or was sick recently. I light a candle (because I love candles, and it makes me look forward to getting out of bed. 😉 ) and make myself a cup of tea before recording what happened the day before, writing down goals for the day, and reading my Bible and writing about what God is teaching me. I also take time around 5:30 to read more out of my Bible and work on memory verses. If I’m have a particularly hard day, or stressing about something in particular, I will take time to just write a list of either blessings, or reasons I’m stressed, and figure out how to make the day better.

Vitamin C I take: Lypo-Spheric packet and tablets.

Emotional Health

Doesn’t this fit with the one before it?

Hmm. I think all of them intertwine, but I want to take a moment to just look at emotional health. Some days I can have amazing mental and physical health, but I’m just sad. Or I’m just bleh emotionally. Emotional exhaustion is just as much a thing as mental and physical exhaustion.

Emotions are one of the biggest part of art. We are trying to convey our emotions to others, we are trying to play with emotions of those who see/read/hear our art, and so our emotional health needs to be somewhat stable.

For my emotional health, I try to keep myself scheduled, and take time to do things that make me happy. Some of the things I do that make me happy is drink coffee, burn candles, wear outfits that make me feel beautiful, and style my hair. As well as listening to my favorite music.

Everyone has different things that make them happy, and it’s okay to do some extra things if it gives you a little bit of happiness. When I was younger, I told myself that I should just work, work, work, and ignore the little things that I can do to improve the quality of each day. There’s no need to do that. In moderation, a little bit of extra sparkle can make your day much better.

How is your physical, mental and emotional health? What are some things you do to improve those three things? Do you enjoy being scheduled?

~~Amie~~