My Journey to Happiness
A little bit about me: I am person who loves to talk about mental health, but, I am also a person who constantly struggles with it. I’ve suffered and struggled my way through everything from depression to my latest battle: PTSD. My life isn’t the best, but it is not the worst. I’m not writing this to tell you how horrible my life is, but I need to give some context for what I want to discuss: my journey to happiness.
For the past 9 years, my mental health has had its ups and downs. In 2016 I was sexually assaulted by my ex fiancé. After my assault, I was never the same. I went to grief counseling a few days after the incident, however, the counselor I saw victim-blamed me, and I never went back. I tried to hide my feelings, but it seems the harder I tried to seem ok, it made it much more obvious that I wasn’t. People I was close to knew something was wrong, but every time they would ask I would deny it and say I was fine. My mom and best friend knew something was wrong and wouldn’t take no for an answer. I feared that my mom wouldn’t believe me. Looking back, I should have never thought that. My mom has been my biggest support system since my assault, and the fact that I thought she wouldn’t believe me was incredibly naïve.
On this journey, I have some goals, short term and long term. One day I will be able to control my PTSD, and be truly happy again. This journey is not going to be an easy one, but I am doing everything I possibly can to better myself and my mental health, such as going to therapy. My therapist is amazing, and not like the counselor I saw after my assault. She is working with me to learn to control my extreme emotions and PTSD triggers. She has given me a lot of “homework assignments” such as listing people I trust for my support system, learning to be mindful, finding ways to express myself, and so much more. I started my own personal blog, My Heart Beats New Mexico, to express myself per the suggestion of my therapist. I have always loved writing, and when she suggested I do artwork, or anything I can to express myself, I decided to start my blog. I feel ever since I started my blog I have gotten better at expressing my feelings. Writing blog posts has been extremely therapeutic for me. Now, not only do I get to express myself on My Heart Beats NM, but I can share my musings on Cushy as well! Two therapeutic platforms for me to be myself.
My biggest weakness in my journey is remembering to stay positive. Remembering that not everything is going to have a negative outcome is extremely difficult for me. However, my support system has been a tremendous help for me. As I continue this journey, I’d like to offer up some suggestions for anyone dealing with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health struggles, that have helped me on my journey to happiness:
1. Find one positive thing throughout the day and write it down: During my weekly therapy session, we discuss the positive things that happened throughout the week that I wrote down. Doing this exercise may sound silly, but so far, it has helped a lot. Being forced to focus on one positive thing makes my brain see that there is more to life than just negativity. Anthony, (my boyfriend) does his best to remind me of the good in life. We have our ups and downs, but he always knows what to do to make me smile.
2. Lean on your support system: My therapist gives me exercises to work on by myself, and encourages me to show to my support system. These exercises are calming techniques for my extreme emotions. I can’t do everything by myself, so by showing my support system these techniques I learned in therapy, helps when I cannot control myself. I have received a lot of help from my support system, but for a few of them it has been a difficult change. I am difficult to be around when I am experiencing an extreme emotion, and even with the guidance from my therapist some still don’t know what to do to calm me down. I must constantly remind my support system and myself that overcoming this illness is not something that happens overnight. For me, reassurance is key to my success.
3. Do something creative: As I mentioned before I created a personal blog to express myself. I have always had trouble getting my feelings out vocally and writing them down helps. Not only do I write out my feelings, but I can share my artwork, pictures, and videos. Each section of the blog requires different forms of thinking to keep them interesting. For example, for my Food section, I use my personal recipes, but I also go out and look for interesting new recipes to try for myself then share my experience. For each section, I force myself to get out of my comfort zone and try something new.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help: About a year after my assault, I knew I was not okay and needed help. It took a few months to get the ball rolling, but eventually I started going to therapy, and seeking help from my loved ones. I like to consider myself an independent woman, so asking for help was extremely difficult for me. I wasn’t willing to talk about my demons to anybody, but I couldn’t fight any longer, so I decided to finally get help. I love my therapist, words cannot explain how much I love her. She really knows how to get me to open up about my feelings. I feel I have grown so much since I started seeing her. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t started seeing her.
"This journey is not going to be an easy one, but I am doing everything I possibly can to better myself and my mental health"
I may not be where I hope to be in a year or two from now, but I am growing every day. Currently, I am working on being able to talk to Anthony about my feelings, focusing on being more positive, and being more mindful of my emotions. I work on these day by day, and I can say that overall, I feel happier. I may still struggle with my overall happiness, but I do see progress. One day my mental health will be stable again, and I will be the happy girl, no, be even happier than I was before because this stage of my life has made me stronger! Never give up! Your journey may be longer than you expect, but you will reach your goal before you know it!