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If only this were an easy topic to discuss. Let us embark on the land of stories and take a closer look at my family. My immediate family consists of my mom, dad, and little brother. We aren’t exactly the Brady Bunch, but we could be a handful in any given situation. I was raised in a low-income, paycheck-to-paycheck kind of family. We experienced the lows, and we had our highs. I grew up in a town with a population less than 10,0000, and at least 1 hour away from anything. So I guess you could say my environment for the first 18 years of my life was very conservative and close-minded with little opportunity.
My anxiety and depression were taboo to even bring up to my family. Not only did I believe that they “just wouldn’t get it”, but I also told myself that the demons I carried needed to be kept quiet. My brain told me that if anyone knew, I would just be burdening them with problems that I could just avoid altogether by lying or saying “I’m fine.” In my mind, I was doing a good deed by keeping quiet. That is so twisted now that I think about it. You see, mental illness or any illness matter of fact can literally twist your thinking. Your thoughts can change and thinking patterns in the brain can change as well if you keep negative self-talk up. I was always too scared to tell anyone in my family about my anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, or my self-harm. I always told myself I had to be strong, but everyone is weak at some time in their life. Everyone experiences emotions and feelings, and that is how we relate to one another.
Read more: My Shape Shifting Depression
Back to my family tree – my parents divorced when I was 14 years old. My father became meaner, and my mother fell into drug addiction, depression, anxiety, and many other things. This is when I took a stand and decided I would be strong for my mom. She needed me by her side. I knew God made me strong so I could take care of her. It took years for her to recover. We became closer, and I was able to help her when she needed it the most. To this day, I still have never told her about my own personal struggles. My dad and I argued constantly all throughout my high school years. It was a constant uphill battle. His lack of parenting skills, pent-up bitterness, and deeply held anger made my life harder. Not only did I feel like I couldn’t tell my mom about my struggles, but now I had to watch my every move around my dad.
My brother and I knew any little thing could set him off. Dirty dishes, a bad day at work, anything. He would find a way to place the blame on us and take his anger out on us too. Luckily, I had a church body and family I could open up to in those years. It was really hard hiding all of these deep parts of me from my family though. It still is now and I am a 20-year-old. I only wish I would have told my family when I was younger because I know they would have helped. It would have been rough at first with their lack of understanding, but I now know it could have helped.
Read more: Smoking Pot as a Way to Slow my Mind Down
I encourage you to open up to anyone that you can about your life. Your story matters. Your experience matters because they make you who you are. DO NOT bottle up all of these feelings inside. Please talk to someone. I’m speaking from experience. Even if you don’t have any support in your family or around you, there is ALWAYS someone to talk to. Check out your resources online, in your library, and through trusted mentors around you. You got this.