Overcoming Mental Illness on the Path to Self-Discovery

mental illness and self discovery

Overcoming Mental Illness on the Path to Self-Discovery

1200 675 Arielle Davis

Embracing the Darkness: My Battle with Anxiety and Depression

Have you ever experienced those moments when you sought solace in bathroom stalls at work, tears streaming down your face as you fought overwhelming emotions all alone? Can you recall those phone calls where you held back tears, not wanting your loved ones to sense the pain you were hiding? 

Perhaps you can relate to the racing thoughts that cruelly attacked your self-worth whenever you made plans to meet friends. Thoughts that whisper:  they’re going to notice the weight you’ve gained. They are going to ask you about the person you’re dating who just left you, and got back with their ex. They’re going to ask about that career move you just made that has you drinking more than usual.

These moments of raw vulnerability are all too familiar to those who have battled anxiety and depression.

In this raw and introspective exploration of my journey from struggling with mental illness to self-discovery, I have aimed to create a space where we can all feel seen, understood, and validated. Through relatable life moments and heartfelt vulnerability, we embark on a shared path of healing and discover the truth.

The truth that everything changes. The truth that nothing is forever. Life does not follow a straight line. It is cyclical, weaving together pain and pleasure, connecting us through our shared experiences.

Truths that become self-evident as we continue self discover.

Here are the lessons I’ve earned:

The Year It Happened

Internal Struggles and External Battles

2019 stands out as one of the most challenging years in my life. I was working at a non-profit organization where my boss seemed to relish every opportunity to bully and belittle me. Regardless of how carefully I chose my words, the tone I used in my emails or even the clothes I wore, she seemed to effortlessly find flaws and criticize everything I did. 

To make matters worse, as soon as I left the office, I would come home to a partner who echoed similar behaviors. In my relationship, I was told that we weren’t having enough sex, that I talked to my mom too much, and that all my guy friends just wanted to fuck me, and therefore I should just end all my friendships. The pressure to conform to his expectations was suffocating. I was constantly being told that I needed to grow up, be more mature, settle down, and be ready to marry him. 

The weight of these expectations and constant judgment was crushing. It felt like a relentless cycle of criticism and negativity.

The Toll on Mental Health

On the outside, I appeared strong and confident. When my boss belittled me, I stood up for myself. When my partner pressured me, I pushed back. To everyone around me, I looked bold and powerful. But behind that facade, in those bathroom stalls and during those calls with my mom, I was crumbling.

The weight of their words and actions took a toll on my mental health. I was struggling to maintain my composure while internally unraveling. The moments spent alone in those bathroom stalls became a refuge, a place where I could release the tears and anguish that I held inside.

During those calls with my mom, I would stifle my cries, not wanting to burden her with the pain I was experiencing. I put on a brave face, never revealing the depths of my struggle. But inside, I felt isolated and unheard, yearning for someone to come save me, but  I was too caught up in the illusion of isolation and too sold on the dream of independence to ask for help.

Unwinding The Path To Self-Discovery

Each day became a battle to find the strength to face the world and maintain my outward appearance of “I’m good”. But the toll it took on my mental health was undeniable. Anxiety and depression seeped deeper into my being, infiltrating every aspect of my life.

In the face of such adversity, I began to realize the importance of prioritizing my own self-honesty, and as a result self-discovery.  And I discovered that standing up for myself externally was only one piece of the puzzle. The battles fought in those bathroom stalls and on those calls with my mom were just as significant. It was in those vulnerable moments that I truly understood the magnitude of my internal struggle, and I started telling my truth externally.

Unveiling the Mask: The Isolation of Mental Illness

Dealing with mental illness can make you feel alone and disconnected. It wraps around your thoughts and makes it hard to breathe. Behind the forced smiles and seemingly put-together facade, lies the untold story of countless individuals grappling with their own internal battles.

Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the surface of someone who seems happy on the outside? Behind their mask, could they be wrestling with the same demons that haunt you? The truth is, underneath it all, we’re not so different. We’re all struggling.

When we have the courage to take off our masks and share our true selves, something incredible happens. We find connections with others who have been through similar struggles. We discover understanding and support that helps us feel less alone.

Think about it: What if we all had the courage to be real, to show our true selves, and let others see our challenges? Wouldn’t we realize that deep down, we’re all more alike than we think? That underneath the masks, we share a common human experience?

Couldn’t we encourage others because we have found the truth in our own self-discovery journey with mental illness?

mental illness and self discovery

The Journey Begins: Seeking Clarity Amidst Chaos

The truth is that everything changes. It reminds us that life is a constant evolution. Just as the seasons transition, our circumstances, emotions, and relationships undergo transformations. We learn to navigate the twists and turns, adapting to the ever-shifting landscape of our lives.

Acknowledging the truth that nothing is forever is sobering and liberating. It reminds us not to hold onto the fleeting moments of happiness too tightly, for they will inevitably pass. It teaches us to cherish the present, savor the joys, and find strength during times of adversity. With this understanding, we cultivate a greater sense of appreciation for the preciousness of each passing moment.

Life’s non-linear nature becomes apparent when we reflect on our own journeys with self-discovery and mental illness. It is not a straight path from point A to point B, but one with detours, setbacks, and unexpected discoveries.

Finding Strength in Adversity

Embracing this truth invites us to let go of rigid expectations and embrace the unexpected turns that lead us to growth and finding out more about who we are.

The cyclical nature of life reminds us that just as the sun rises and sets, our experiences follow a recurring pattern. We go through cycles of growth, challenges, healing, and transformation. The highs and lows are what it means to be as alive as the ocean, mountains, or valleys. 

And fortunately and beautifully for us, in the midst of the struggle, there are glimmers of hope. moments when we defy the odds and rise above the shadows. It could be a small victory—a day when anxiety’s grip loosens, or a moment of genuine laughter breaking through depression’s veil. 

These triumphs, however fleeting, remind us of our resilience and ignite a spark of self-belief. They show us that, despite the challenges, we have the strength to overcome and reclaim our lives, not in every moment, but in enough of them.

By recognizing these cycles, we can find comfort in knowing that even in the darkest moments, light will eventually return.

Crucially, it is our shared experiences with both pain and pleasure that connect us as human beings. In recognizing our own struggles mirrored in others, we cultivate compassion and forge meaningful connections. We realize that beneath the surface, we are more alike than different.

The End Of Mental Illness: Embracing Resilience and Interconnectedness

As we embrace the truths of life’s changes, impermanence, non-linearity, and cycles, we embark on a journey of self-discovery. 

We learn to surrender to the ever-changing currents, including our experience with mental illness finding resilience, wisdom, and interconnectedness along the way. 

Together, let us celebrate the beauty and complexity of this shared human existence, united by our collective experiences of pain and pleasure.

Remember, you are not alone. Embrace the darkness, confront the chaos, and celebrate your triumphs. For it is through the shadows that the most transformative journeys unfold, leading us to the radiant light of self-discovery and self-acceptance.


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