In honor of May being Mental Health Awareness month, I have decided to share my mental health journey to the world.
So many of us are privileged to see signs when our physical health is not where it needs to be. If we see signs of something wrong with our health, we, for the most part, will inquire on what is wrong and, at some point, seek medication attention. However, what happens when there are signs that something is not right with us mentally? Do we tend to inquire about what is going on, or do we just ignore it? This year became the year that I had to stop ignoring what was going on with me mentally and start seeking answers to some of the questions I had.
This year has served as more of an evaluation of where I am in my life. A part of this evaluation has also involved taking a serious look at the future towards what I want to accomplish and who I want to be moving forward. I came to the conclusion that I was not going to have a chance to progress to what I want to be until I deal with my mental health. Looking at some of my thought patterns and behaviors, I finally realized that I must seek help to figure out the reasons why I felt like my mental health was not where it needed to be. I am a very prideful person, and thus, it was hard to admit that I needed help. However, thanks to the encouragement of my wife, I decided to set up an appointment with a therapist that has the reputation of providing great work. The first session was an assessment of what I believe was going on. Just in that first session, I felt a sense of freedom that I haven’t felt in a while. It was relieving to be honest with this stranger regarding what was going on with me mentally.
On the second appointment, the appointment that started the official therapy session, I was diagnosed with generalized anxiety disorder. According to DSM-5, generalized anxiety disorder includes “excessive anxiety and worry (apprehensive expectation), occurring more days than not for at least 6 months…..anxiety/worry causing significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.” As I look at my life the past few years, this diagnosis was on point. Since I’ve started therapy, I’ve begun to see some of the roots behind my excessive worry and anxiety. Jordan B. Peterson argued that a lot of mental health issues boil down to the complexity of life, and how we, at times, struggle to handle it. Some of the situations I’ve experienced in 31 years of life have been complex and complicated to deal with. However, I have not taken the time to properly deal with what was going on. The reality of life is that it is complex. It can become so complex that we get overwhelmed and the overwhelming feeling can affect us mentally.
Today I share my mental health journey to encourage each and every one of you to seek help as needed. There is NOTHING wrong with having to admit that you do not have it all together. The truth of the matter is that NO ONE has it all together. It takes A LOT of courage to admit that things aren’t going the way they need to be, but on the other side of your courage is freedom. My mental health journey is one of good, bad, progressive, and ugly days. However, with what I believe God is going to do through me for the rest of my life, I am determined to be in the best shape mentally. Life is rough. As my childhood pastor used to say, “if you haven’t had any rain in your life, just wait awhile.”
Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to everyone who works in the mental health field. Your work is highly appreciated and needed in this day and age. On a daily basis, we see how complex life is. Your service to humanity has been the difference between someone giving up on life and someone pressing forward.
I say one more time: it’s ok not to be ok. If you need the help, do not be afraid to ask for it! Your life is precious, and you deserve to be at your best mentally!