IT’S OKAY TO BE HUMAN

I guess you’ve wondered where I’ve been…on a search to find a love within…

Besides that being the opening line of one of my favorite songs, that’s where I’ve been - searching for a love within myself. May being Mental Health Awareness Month, has been all about that – practicing awareness of my mental state and figuring out what has been making me feel like it’s…slipping.

I pride myself in having the courage to be candid with my readers when it comes to the occurrences of my life, but since I posted my last Weekly Wisdom in April, I felt like I lost it. The fearlessness it took me so long to build up disappeared amongst the pressures of my anxiety and depression. Because I’ve posted about it before, I didn’t want to bore anyone with the details of my disorders, so I stopped writing…completely. I stopped writing for MEL A LA MODE, I stopped writing for Uptown Girls NYC, I gave up on creative opportunities that came my way, and most importantly I stopped writing for myself. My daily thirty minutes of pen to paper or jotting down whatever came to mind in the Notes section of my iPhone was discontinued by the immense fear and worry that took over my life. That was the first and biggest mistake I’ve made in the last few months. Or so I thought.

I diagnosed the second mistake as lashing out on loved ones who affected me negatively. I lashed out on them until they lashed out on me, which in turn made me lash out on myself. Blowing up on them meant acting erratically and saying things out of anger. Blowing up on myself? A full blown panic attack that left me strapped to the confines of my bed for seven days. If I have ever hit rock bottom, it was the week I canceled my life and stared at a purple ceiling on a belly of nothing but soup and tea. That attack was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I didn’t want anything. No food, no shower, no television or music, no communication with the world outside of my bedroom. It was as if the breakdown took any last bit of me that remained in the human shell I had called home for the past month. My body gave up on making sense of what my mind was telling it. Pale, weak and lifeless, I wanted to put a period on the run-on sentence that had been my life.

Mistake number three was blaming myself. I blamed myself for upsetting someone else to the point of feeding the anxiety that resulted in my attack. I blamed myself for my emotional abnormalities and not being able to deal with things like a regular human being. I blamed myself for being who I was. For covering up my obvious insanity with the word “passionate” for so many years. I was just as crazy as my ex-boyfriend still says I am. I was just as crazy as my friends joked about. I was just as crazy as I laughed about after making a bad decision. I was crazy. I was crazy and I was sure of it now, except there was nothing funny about it.

The biggest mistake of this entire experience was accepting the three prior as mistakes at all.

Taking a break from writing wasn’t a mistake. Just because you love doing something doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to step away from it for a moment. Besides, if you’re involved with something you absolutely adore, it is expected that you’re giving it your all. Intermissions are not only acceptable, but necessary, especially to a creative. It took Michelangelo almost twenty years to complete the Sistine Chapel, but you know what? It took him almost twenty years to complete the frescos in one of the most breathtaking rooms one could ever stand in. I know because I had the pleasure of standing in it for over twenty minutes before I could bring myself to leave. You don’t have to be an artist to deviate and decompress. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for doing what’s best for yourself. 

Expressing myself to my loved ones wasn’t a mistake, but my approach and reactions weren’t the healthiest ways to do so. I used to take pleasure in being the most calm, collected and calculated person in a dispute, but since my anxiety spun out of control, healthily partaking in emotive conversations were a thing of the past. I could no longer differentiate what someone’s expression was from blame. Everything someone else said became about me, because of me or for me. I made myself the common denominator of everyone’s feelings, including my own, until I exhausted my efforts of comprehension. Canceling life for a week may seem drastic, but it was what I needed. Finding time to just lay in bed, or watch television, or hang out with your family is something super important that most people put on the back burner. Whether it is an hour a day, a day a week, or an entire week like I chose, relaxing and refocusing is never a mistake.

If I made any mistake, the only one was blaming myself and stamping myself as crazy. I am not crazy, emotionally abnormal or an irregular human being. If anything, I am as normal as can be. I am 1 of over 40 million adults suffering from anxiety and 1 of 10 Americans suffering from depression. I’m not going to lie and say that I want to stand on a mountain top and yell that proudly, but I will say that it is comforting to know that some of you that are reading this right now understand or will encounter anxiety and/or depression at some point of your lives. The only statistic I can proudly state that I have joined is the one-third of anxiety sufferers and 20% of depression sufferers that have sought professional help and are being treated for their disorders. I politely stepped over the taboos and stigmas that were laid before me by the people of my Hispanic culture and decided to try therapy. Besides it being one of the best decisions I’ve made to date, I don’t understand why anyone would be against receiving unbiased guidance…but we’ll leave that for another post.

This is an ode to feeling because whether you suffer from anxiety and/or depression or not, it’s completely O K A Y to do so. Not only is it okay to feel, but it’s what you’re supposed to do. A happy person doesn’t need to be told to feel, but a person that encounters sadness or anger stops at the hint of it. Society has made it virtually unacceptable to do one of the most basic and animalistic things a human being can do. Do it. Feel it. I’m sure it’s hard to believe that someone who promotes positivity and self-love day and night could encounter such emotional distress, but I am human. AND IT’S OKAY TO BE HUMAN. Pain demands to be felt, not haltered. The longer a feeling is kept, the longer it simmers until it boils over.  

Feel things healthily, and if you can’t, ask for help.

Rest if you feel the need to and don’t apologize for it.

If you’ve reached the point of boiling over, then read the line before this.

Take care of your mind and it’ll take care of you.

I want to thank those that were there for me physically, in my texts, call log, DMs and e-mails during my absence. I do this for me, but I do it more for all of you.

Art by Richard Vergez.