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my mental health story

Before anxiety was talked about (still not enough), I struggled in silence and with feelings that something was wrong with me. I would have panic attacks as an adolescent and into my twenties and believe something was wrong with me. I would struggle to breathe and often times, I would have outbursts of anger because I had NO idea how to deal with my feelings.

In my middle and late twenties, mental health was not something you talked about. But, reaching out and getting helped changed my life. I started therapy in my middle twenties and it was the key that unlocked a door. But, it wasn't something people talked about. Apparently letting other people know you were HUMAN and had struggles wasn't cool. Instead, you were encouraged to put on a brave face and say you were "fine" and go cry alone in a closet somewhere. Because, feelings are messy and some people don't like messes. Those are not your people. I don't care if they are friends or family.

Newsflash: If your circle is not supporting you through the hurricanes, they have no right to be in the sunshine with you.

Counseling helped me control my anxiety and anger, but more than that... it showed me the WHY behind so many of the things I felt. For me, this enabled me to dig deeper and do the hard work. It wasn't until I was past 30 and I changed my physical habits that I truly grasped why mental health was so important. Working out was my outlet for my anxiety - I cut out a lot of negative things (and people) from my life, I did things that nurtured my soul (like blogging and writing!), spent time in nature and with friends, and continued counseling. I was practicing self care before that was a hashtag!

In 2017, I got married, left my hometown and family and friends to move to a new city, moved away from my counselor, bought our first house, left a job, started a business. It was more than I could handle at one time. What should have been a joyful and happy season was hard. I fell into a dark period of not just anxiety, but depression. I would lay on the couch for hours. I would wake up and wish I hadn't. I cried all the time. I had no desire to work out. My sweet, new husband had no idea how to "fix" things.

It was my husband that encouraged me to seek out counseling in our new city and get back into yoga. Once I got back into yoga and counseling, I could slowly start to feel myself coming back to life after 5 months of feeling less than alive. I went to yoga every single day for months. If I tried to skirt out of it or say I was "too busy", my husband would look at me in the eyes and tell me I had to go. Finally, the fog lifted. There were other things that attributed to that season of taking care of my mental health - new, trusted friends, travel, rest, reading.

The truth is - we are all a little messy in our own ways. Life is harder than ever. We often feel pulled in so many directions we don't know which one to go in first. Mental health should never be a stigma, it should never be a whispered phrase. It should be talked about with love, encouragement, and understanding. No one is above the struggle. If you feel like you are struggling, reach out. Find someone you trust and begin the journey.


patty lauren


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