Written by: Hannah // @hanmacdonald
As I sit here writing this blog post, I can't help but wonder how many people passing by on the street are hiding behind that smile they have on their faces. How many of those people are going through something much darker than what everyone else can see? How many are hoping for that opportunity to find solace and gear up the strength to come to terms with that darkness?
One of the hardest things I've ever had to do was admit that I'm not okay. I don't think I'm alone when I say that I feel like it's engrained in our minds to always put on a smile and show the world that we're okay. I feel like I was trained to keep my thoughts, my feelings and my problems to myself...
I thought by putting on a smile, going out into the world and engaging with people would convince me to feel better; but this made time alone even harder. The Hannah I put forth on social media and around friends was completely different from how I felt when I was alone. The thing with mental illness is that we don’t tell anyone in fear that we may burden them with the way we’re feeling.
That feeling of burdening the people close to me was unbearable - that is what made me keep my mental illness a secret for a lot longer than I should have. Then again, at the time, I didn’t quite understand it myself. I thought it was just a phase, or I was just feeling the stress that everyone else goes through on a daily basis. Over the course of a year, I began distancing myself from those closest to me and began isolating myself completely. The thought of going out with friends and even walking to school became unbearable; I couldn’t bring myself to leave my bedroom.
Months went by and nothing was getting better. That smiling girl in the hallways and at social events started to forget what it meant to be happy.
I vividly remember the night I came to terms with myself and the way I was feeling. Sitting at home with my parents at the dinner table - absolutely breaking down about how I've been feeling for quite some time. I had to say it out loud to the people that mean the most to me, for me to finally realize: I am not okay.
I remember sitting there apologizing profusely for the way I was feeling, and how I know that I shouldn’t be feeling this way because they have given me an incredible upbringing. I remember telling them how miserable I had become over the year and how I had no idea how to get back to what I once was. I was embarrassed, and felt like telling my parents wouldn’t make any difference: but it did.
Reaching out and finally admitting to myself, and to those I loved that I had hit my breaking point and that I could no longer live in that place of darkness was THE BEST decision I could have made for myself. It wasn’t an easy road to where I am today but all of the hard work was entirely worth it.
Remember, it’s okay to admit you need help. Admitting you need help is the first and by far the toughest step in getting better. And if you ever feel alone in what you’re going through, remember you DO have people in your life who care and want to help - reach out and use those around you as means of feeling better.
It is okay, to not be okay…and that is okay.
Until next time...