Mental Health. This is what my mental health looks like sometimes. Sometimes there’s a smile, sometimes I fall apart. If there is a smile, I’m more than likely faking it to make it while I’m in a slump. I don’t know why past me decided to take sad pictures for future me, but I’m glad she did. 🙌🏽 Over the past year I’ve learned a lot about myself and what anxiety and depression look like for me so I figured I’d share with you. Not everyone’s looks the same, but there are some similarities so if this somehow helps even one person, my cup is filled. When I knew my scales were tipping, no amount of love, space, acupuncture, exercise, sleep…nothing, could get me to feel whole. I felt empty. I felt lost. I felt worthless. I felt hopeless. Shameful. Guilty. Tired. Unable to focus, make decisions, or think positively about situations or myself. I could barely go to the pool for fun times with friends and family without sitting there literally weeping in my bathing suit poolside thinking about all the ways I’d failed as a parent, spouse, daughter, family member, friend, worker, etc. I was convinced I was a burden on the world, and I couldn’t understand my purpose. My light. What light? I felt like I had nothing more to give. My days were filled with rapid heartbeats. My chest or throat tightening so hard it felt like I was dying. My head pounding, especially that third eye spot between my eyes. I questioned & second guessed myself constantly. My self-worth was at an all time low. I was stuck in a viscous circle of self-hatred because the more I hated myself, the worse my behavior became, and the worse it made me feel. I was at constant battle with myself and I finally realized I needed more help than what I’d been getting. I found myself a therapist and a doctor (well, I went through several before finding “the one”). Treatments got me to realize I had gone through this before, I just had more of me to give and fight before. How strange to understand how I’d lived with anxiety for so long, not ever knowing my physical sensations were my body’s fight or flight response. And then learning that the way I’d always coped with stress by shrinking and hiding, becoming little and insignificant because that is how I felt was also a telltale sign (along with everything else) of being anxious and depressed. I kept thinking I could chug along. I could make things work. What would people think or say about me? How would me taking time off to fix myself look to others? What impacts could this have on my career? How could I come back? Well, I guess I don’t care anymore. Here I am airing my laundry to the world because you know what? More people need to know this happens to the best of us. More people need to understand that we’re all doing the best we can, and sometimes that smile on someone’s face doesn’t tell the story of what pain or anguish they’re experiencing inside. Sometimes offering compassion and understanding to those who are clearly struggling with some inner demons is the gift we can provide. Sometimes we need to remind others and ourselves that each of us is a light in the world. God created us with gifts to share, and we need to give those gifts a fighting chance to shine by treating our mental health…ourselves… with love and compassion. So, whether you look like the put together photo, or the falling apart photo, please remember, you are lovable, you are strong, you are capable, you are a light in this world, and there is hope.