Just a fair warning, this is going to be a long post. I usually keep personal stuff like this to myself, but in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to share my sentiments with my own personal account.
After four years of living in Los Angeles, I decided to move back home to Texas. For the most part of those four years I’ve been battling depression. This past December, while I was away for a weekend to get my mind off things happening in life, I experienced an anxiety/panic attack: heartbeat racing, headache, nausea, eyes darting back and forth…I was in the middle of eating dinner with a friend and for over an hour I tried to take deep breaths and calm my heart rate down, but it wasn’t slowing down. It didn’t happen until later when we got back to our hotel room and I laid on my bed, closed my eyes and tried to fall asleep. Within 10 – 20 minutes I was fine, but I knew something bigger was wrong.
Fast forward to when I visited Texas for the holidays…In the span of a week, I saw a bunch of doctors, one of which included an internal medicine doctor, who I spoke with and she diagnosed me with severe anxiety. The outcome: I was prescribed to take a daily anti-anxiety/anti-depressant medication from January until mid-April, any additional refills needs to be prescribed by a psychiatrist. I recently started seeing a therapist and after talking with her, she also wants me to see a psychiatrist because I have a slight panic disorder. Needless to say, this whole experience opened my eyes to finally see what was happening to me.
To put it simply: I am broken. Broken—financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. In battling this depression, my stubbornness and denial caused me to fight myself internally, convincing myself how “happy” I was and that I didn’t have a problem and was actually unhappy. Some people have told me, “Why are you leaving?! … You seemed so happy! … I thought things were working out so well for you! …” Truth is…I’m really not okay. It is extremely difficult to part ways with a life I have worked so hard to establish in LA, but it’s not in the cards for me anymore. As cliche as it gets, this city has chewed me up and spit me out. It’s time for me to finally take matters into my own hands to get unstuck from this unhealthy void and take care of myself.
Up until now I struggled with myself with the idea that ever going back to Texas meant I was a failure, that I lost the game of life, and I had to stick out whatever pain and suffering came my way to make it on my own. But there came a time when I finally realized that being out here has cost me my mental health. I thought by the age of 25 I was going to have a successful career, living on my own—completely cut off from my parents—moving forward in life and just genuinely feeling happy.
I am now 26 and none of that has happened. It seemed like no matter how hard I worked, how hard I tried to network and make new friends or how hard I tried to go out and live life and experience new things, I’d fail every time. Let this be a cautionary tale: Los Angeles is a city of opportunity, sure, but it is incredibly toxic at the same time. I’ve never met the most fake people who used me to get ahead, who didn’t give me the time of day, who gave me the shoulder when I tried to establish friendship, who only hit me up when they needed something. And I can barely afford to stay in an apartment where I SHARE (yes, share) a room, let alone go out and live life without putting myself into more credit card debt. Hell, for the first year and a half I was living off $20 – $30 worth of groceries per month. I could go on but it all points to one thing: my time in this toxic city has made me doubt myself, hate myself and nearly kill myself, and I’m not stable enough to move forward.
Just in this past year alone, a normal day has become me waking up sad or angry or anxious and having at least one mental breakdown a day. For a good part of last year, I turned to alcohol as my crutch to drink my troubles away and nearly depleted my bank account. But I kept telling myself I was “fine”—I can’t be weak, I can’t show vulnerability, this is just part of the hustle, I’ll make it, success is right around the corner, push through it all—despite close friends pointing out to me that I’m causing my own unhappiness, that I’m driving myself insane, that I’m working too hard from 5am – 11pm/midnight, that I care way too much about other things before myself.
Go ahead and tell me I probably just don’t have what it takes, that I’m not cut out for what goals I have—trust me I’ve already believed all this stuff about me. I’ve managed to put everything before myself without a second thought: my job, friends, family, boyfriends and more. Now it’s time to put myself first and make ME a priority. I’m done putting myself through emotional turmoil. I have experienced the lowest parts of my life and entertained the darkest depths of my mind. Call me weak, but I have to put my pride away and realize that I need to give myself a break and rehabilitate before I’m irreversibly destroyed or I do something I’ll regret and can’t take back.
At this very moment, I can feel my confidence is completely shook. I don’t think I’m good enough for anything. I’m not good enough for new friends, I’m not good enough for a new job, I’m not good enough for love, I just feel like I’m not good enough for life. No matter how hard I’ve tried…it was never good enough and I’ve been left feeling like I’m lower than dirt.
It’s been about a month since coming off my medication and I can feel my anxiety taking over and reverting my mind and personality back to an unhealthy state. However, since the year started, I have managed to find healthy regimens that have helped me balance my life and feel better about myself—start loving myself and my life again. In addition, I’ve been walking the road of sobriety—I’ve had only three drinks so far this year, and the taste doesn’t appeal to me and I can now firmly say that I don’t need it. I may not be okay right now but I know that I will eventually get there, and it’s okay to not be okay as long as I keep working at it every day and push any negative thoughts out of my mind. My mental health is a daily battle, but I’m constantly seeking out healthier options and will continue to work at it, and the biggest step is going back home.
Don’t get me wrong there have definitely been good times had, gems of people I’ve met and befriended and unforgettable memories made, but it’s time for this little Texas girl to go home and be with family who support me and want to help me get back on my feet and figure out my life. Nothing pains me more than to leave all the wonderful people, memories and efforts I’ve made, but unfortunately all the negative energy, all the heartache, all the bad times overshadow all the good. That bit of goodness was what kept me holding on to that thin sliver of hope, but it’s gone now…
The whole point of this long-winded story is that your mental health is SUCH an important thing to take care of. As a society we keep hush, hush about mental health because it’s looked down upon or considered “taboo” or you’re viewed as “crazy,” but, uh, no? As someone dealing with all of this, this is all very real, so please don’t be afraid to TALK. ABOUT. IT. Mental health is something we take for granted and we need to take care of ourselves.
I can’t say that I’ll miss LA….but I do want to thank you everyone I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and getting close to. Thank you for the memories. Thank you for the adventures. Who knows if I’ll be back, but it’s been one hell of a ride.
Photo credit: Victoria Patneaude