Guilt and Mental Illness

I seem to always feel guilty about stuff. Whenever I make a mistake or mess up in some kind of way, I am overcome with guilt and anxiety.

This happens on a weekly basis. I neglect to do something or I say the wrong thing, my stomach gets tight and my heart sinks to my feet. I lose focus on whatever was going on previously, the feeling of guilt starts to swirl around my head.

Recently I told my best friend from uni that I wouldn’t be going to her party where a bunch of our friends from school would be. Ones we haven’t seen in a long time. I said, no for many different reasons but I felt horribly guilty about it.

I felt like a bad friend even though she had been incredibly toxic to me. I felt like an ass for telling my friends who I haven’t seen in 3 years that I wouldn’t be there, like they didn’t matter to me which isn’t true.

I’m a professional at ruminating on negative thoughts. If you are too, I see you. So for days I thought those things over and over until my stomach began hurting.

Anxiety and depression love to team up and remind me how nobody likes me, I’m a terrible person and all of the shit they’ve said to me since I was a child. Do I believe them? There’s a part of me that really does. Then there’s another that says, “Well Megan, maybe that’s not 100% true.”

Today is the day of her party and I’m writing this blog post from the comfort of my bed. I’m feel a little guilty still though if I’m going to be honest. Instead of ruminating on the guilt, I’ve been enjoying my time off doing whatever I feel like. I’ve let the day take me wherever it may lead, it’s pretty awesome!

So if you’re feeling guilty too, I understand where you’re coming from. If possible try to relax or distract yourself with a coping mechanism. Do something that makes you happy even if you don’t think “you deserve to feel happy.”

Stay strong, my readers! — Megan

Be Alright

I love Ariana Grande. When I was at my lowest point two years ago I could play her music and feel better. Her songs improved my mood, her lyrics lifted me when I needed it most.

The name of this blog, Be Alright, is named after her song “Be Alright” from her album Dangerous Woman. If you haven’t heard it, check it out here!

The chorus is what always gave me strength. The words, “Baby don’t you know, all of them tears are gunna come and go. Baby if you’re gunna make up your mind, we decided baby be alright.”

Those lyrics helped me to see that the state I was in would eventually pass. She also helped me to understand that I can choose to be alright (well kinda). It made me feel like Ari was cheering me on and telling me that I can survive this and eventually I can be alright.

For a long time I wasn’t into pop music but after being severely depressed, it was what kept me going. I’m going to make a playlist on YouTube and Spotify of the pop music that encouraged me to continue existing.

I hope you, my lovely reader, will be alright. –Megan

P.S. Here are some other encouraging Ari songs: “No Tears Left to Cry,” “Breathin’,” “The Light is Coming” and  “Break Free.”

Feeling Understood

In my last post, I wrote about how difficult it can be to feel misunderstood when you confide in somebody about your mental health situation. It’s painful. I found it difficult to open up to others because of how many people could not understand depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or self harm.

But sometimes people do understand! That is the best feeling when you tell somebody what’s really going on and they don’t call you weird or crazy. Even if they don’t understand what it’s like to experience a mental illness, they are still there as a support system.

Oddly I found support in a former coworker. She knew I had been sad but did not know the extent of my suffering until we had dinner together one night. We were having a delicious Mexican dinner to get us through the final hours of our shifts in the newsroom. I’m not sure how it came up but I told her that I was going to go on antidepressants so she asked if I thought that was the best choice. I told her yes because my depression is severe. Then I said it, “I want to kill myself.”

Tears were streaming down my red cheeks as the waitress is asking if our checks were together or separate. I couldn’t believe I showed my heart to her. What amazed me was that she didn’t run away or stop speaking to me after I confessed that to her. She was the best person to have in my life at that point in time besides my therapist.

We took walks together, we had a sleepover once and I even called her when I could not get my suicidal thoughts to shut up. We talked about random things so I could calm down so I could go to sleep.

I’m so appreciative of her as a friend. We don’t see each other very often anymore since I have a different job now but I look back on those memories and am thankful for all of the times we had together.

I hope you, my lovely reader, have somebody who is there for you. If not, maybe it’s time to try and open up to a safe person in your life.

Stay strong survivors! -Megan

Not Everyone Understands

It’s frustrating when someone who you trust does not understand what it’s like living with a mental illness. I’m sure I’m not the only person who has family members and friends who couldn’t/wouldn’t comprehend what it is like to live each day mentally exhausted.

During my lowest point I confided in one of my best friends from college who I thought I could tell anything to. I thought she would be able to encourage and help me through this difficult time.

I was totally wrong.

I told her about how I started self harming again, how severely depressed and anxious I was and that I was considering taking my own life. I bore my soul to her but I did not get the love I was hoping for. She did not listen when I spoke. She continued to tell me about her short term experience with anxiety four years ago instead of shutting up and being there for me.

Time and time again she would not attempt to listen or understand where I was coming from. So I stopped telling her about my mental health struggles and she never asked about them again.

I told another friend about how severe my depression was and he asked, “Can’t you just go in the woods and meditate?” Uh, no.

I confided in my brother because I needed to tell someone who could take me to an in-patient mental health facility if my suicidal thoughts took me to that point. He could not understand why I would want to kill myself. “Megan, you have so much going for you. There are people out there who are really struggling.” He could not understand.

My mom had seen me so horribly depressed and she did not grasp how I could lay in bed for hours every single day. “Are you depressed every day?” she asked me. “Yes,” I said. She was amazed that that was possible.

It can be so freaking frustrating to have people around you who love you but don’t understand your situation. They may not want to help because they’re afraid of messing up or they don’t know how to help. For me, all of the negative interactions made me feel more alone. It made me feel like “the other,” that I was a freak.

If you feel like a freak and alone, you’re not a freak and you’re not alone. There’s an entire mental health community online that understands and has been in your shoes. Across the globe there are countless individuals who get it. Don’t give up because you feel misunderstood. We are all here cheering you on.

Silencing Suicidal Thoughts

In my last few posts, I’ve been focusing on my journey with struggling with suicidal thoughts. This one I want to make a bit more happy and talk about ways that have helped me to silence those thoughts.

**Just because these things have worked for me does not guarantee they will work for you. This is to give you ideas of what could be helpful for you. We are all different with unique likes and needs.**

Aromatherapy

I never really liked smelly things, they usually gave me a headache. During my time at rock bottom, I was willing to try almost anything to feel better. My therapist suggested essential oils to soothe me when I was anxious or having suicidal thoughts. I went to the health food store and picked up lavender (to help me sleep), peppermint (to relax me when I was anxious) and tangerine (boost my mood).

This shit changed my life! The aromas somehow really helped to calm me down and bring me back to the present moment instead of stuck inside my head. I also became a frequent customer at Bath and Body Works, I got lots of scented body washes to make showering less scary and miserable.

Makeup

Ok ok you’re probably judging me right now but yes, makeup was my escape. I don’t know how it happened but I started watching beauty videos on YouTube, it let me go to a happy place where I didn’t have to worry about anything. I watched video after video after video to silence my thoughts.

A special shoutout to YouTubers KathleenLights, Glam Life Guru and Emilynoel89 for creating amazing content!

Maybe makeup isn’t your thing but finding some sort of hobby can be helpful. Watching those videos lead me to buy makeup and use my face as a canvas for art. I love expressing myself through makeup! To give me something to do, I started an IG  @megandoesmakeupxo.

Harry Potter

I have loved Harry Potter since I was in third grade when my teacher read my class “The Sorcerer’s Stone.” He did different voices for each character!

That book series has the power to pick me up and transport me far away from my day to day problems. When I got depressed in my third year of college I picked up the first book at a used bookstore in Old City Philadelphia.

Those books are still my escape. In the world of Harry Potter I am safe and will always feel safe in that realm even though it isn’t real. When my suicidal thoughts would not shut up, I opened my book and dove in.

I hope some of these things gave you inspiration to help with your suicidal thoughts! Find safe spaces (whether they’re IRL, online or in your head) where you can find solitude from your thoughts. Leave a comment below with your tips on silencing suicidal thoughts, I would love to hear them.

Until next time, survivors! –Megan

2 Years

The moment is still as clear to me as when it happened exactly two years ago when I had my first suicidal thought.

A few days earlier I had sank into a deep depression after a bad breakup. Those days were filled with lots of tears, laying in bed and hugging my cats.

Two years ago I attended an event for my former job and in my ear I heard loud and clear, “kill yourself.” I heard it over and over again. I never had experienced anything like it before.

I was absolutely terrified.

After the event ended I drove home as fast as I could. I called my therapist, who I had only seen once at that point, who did not answer her phone. So I called the suicide crisis hotline and spoke to a really nice woman who encouraged me that I would be alright.

We talked and she helped to calm me down until my therapist returned my phone call.

The rest of the day was a blur. I know I went back to work to write my story then I left.

Those suicidal thoughts flew around in my brain for months until I got on the right antidepressant. Check out my post here about that journey!

Two years later I am still living. Two years ago I could not have envisioned getting to age 25. I could barely see myself getting to the end of each week, thinking long term wasn’t possible for me to do.

In my next post, I’m going to talk about the different things I did to soothe myself when the suicidal thoughts were too loud.

Thank you for reading this, sharing this day with someone makes me vulnerable but I want to show others that they are not alone.

Falling behind

Do you ever feel like you are slipping on all of the responsibilities you have? I’ve been feeling that way for a few days because of forgetting something regarding my side job.

My boss reminded me to reach out to a source for a story that is due this week. I felt so stupid about it. As a professional woman I should be able to keep my shit together, right?

Since then I’ve been trying to evaluate what else I have let slide in my life. All weekend I’ve been trying to do small things that will hopefully help me to stay on top of all the things going on with work and personal life.

Cleaning

Cleaning up different areas always makes me feel like I’ve been productive in some way. Washing my makeup brushes, scrubbing the toilet and vacuuming are a few of the easier tasks that I completed to create a better environment for myself. If everything is dirty, the air feels cluttered to me and I find it difficult to function.

Exercising

I often slack on getting enough exercise especially when dealing with depression. I took time this weekend to go to the gym and punch the heavy bag in my basement. Getting out inner frustrations helped me to clear my mind and it made my body feel good.

Relaxing

Taking the time you need to recharge is incredibly important when life feels overwhelming. Having depression and anxiety, I get overwhelmed very easily so anything that I can do to calm down is essential. I watched some shows, practiced my Japanese, petted my cats and did a Target run. All of those things helped me to chill out and be ready for the week to begin.

If you’re falling behind too, I hope you got a little inspiration from this post. I know you can figure it all out in time! Leave me a comment about what you do when you feel like you need to reorganize and get balanced again!