Hello New Friends,
My whole life has been a roller coaster ride of emotions. When people saw me, or my social media accounts, it may seem as if I was a very happy and bright spirited person, and that’s because I was (and still am) very good at putting on a act for people. But if you’d seen that, then you’d never be able to tell that I was suffering with a crippling anxiety and depression that drastically changed my life. I didn’t want people to see my truth. I didn’t want to make anyone feel bad for me, it’s not my style so instead, I bottled up. But before I get ahead of myself, let me start at the beginning.
I have had very bad anxiety for practically my entire life, as long as I can remember. It was at the highest point starting in 2014. I had things that I wanted to say to someone very close to me and it had been building up inside for so long. I felt sick to my stomach every time I would think about it because I knew that this could potentially ruin everything and I wasn’t ready to face that. It went from the anxiety about things I needed to share, to me being insecure and self deprecating and it turned into so much more into a personal issue. I was so out of control emotionally about everything and I didn’t know how to handle it. Then my anxiety started to get so bad that I didn’t want to see anyone, I didn’t want to leave my house and I didn’t want to do anything that would trigger my feelings to be even worse than they already were. I began to slip into a depression that was so bad and I’ve never experienced anything that terrible in my life. I felt like I wasn’t worthy of anything great, I felt terrible about myself and honestly didn’t see a future for myself. A year went by with this crippling anxiety and it came to a point where it was becoming noticeable for people around me, which was something I did not want to happen. My mom talked to me one day and said that she saw the Ellen Degeneres show and she was interviewing Shonda Rhimes who is the writer and creator of so many incredible shows on ABC, Greys Anatomy being my favorite. She talked about how she never said ‘yes’ to anything. She was very reserved and didn’t take chances that took her out of her comfort zone until one day she decided to say ‘yes’ for an entire year to anything that scared her or held her back and then she wrote a book about her journey called ‘Year of Yes’. My mom bought that book for me and asked me if I would read it because she thought it would help me and it was the greatest decision of my life. I knew that I needed to change my life because the way I was living my life wasn’t going to give me any type of a bright future.
I read the book, and on December 10th, 2015 I decided to start my own ‘Year of Yes.’ If you’d like to read more of an in-depth version of how my journey went, you can check out my blog post titled ‘My Year of Yes’ on my blog which is http://lindseyshields1.wordpress.com. The first year of my journey was incredible because I said ‘yes’ to SO many things I was afraid to do, and I did them! And I survived! I have decided to still continue to say ‘yes’ to things, even three years later because I don’t feel like my story is finished. I feel like my story is just beginning and I have so much more to learn about myself and what I am capable of. I feel like my life has flipped 180 degrees. I am not the same person that I used to be because I have taken action and it was a long tough road, but I am really starting to feel like myself again and the sun is starting to shine so bright for me. I of course still have bad days, but I take those days, and I learn from them. I stay busy, occupy my mind and my soul. I only surround myself now with people who benefit my social, emotional, physical and spiritual well being and I have cut out the people who have made me feel less than and it was so tough, but it was the best decision for myself to thrive.
Mental health is such an important thing that needs to appear more in conversations. When I say that it needs to be talked about more, I mean that the lines of communication need to be wide open for discussion not just in everyday life but also in theatre, music, films, and television. As time goes on there have been a few pieces of media and ‘entertainment’ that have opened this discussion which is really helping many people BUT theres a difference. There’s a difference between education and glamorizing. Making mental illness look ‘cool’ is not something that is portraying mental illness right. If it’s portrayed right, then it will make people feel uncomfortable, and not uncomfortable of the person but uncomfortable of the illness in the way that makes you glad if you don’t have it, and makes you feel less alone if you do.
One thing that is repeated when people talk about struggling is that ‘you are not alone’. I heard that but it really didn’t mean much to me until I found the show ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ (which I have an entire post dedicated to how much it helped my journey) but there is a song in that show called ‘You Will Be Found’ that not only was a song that I heard, but I physically felt it in my soul. You are NOT alone. If you are reading this regardless if you have something major going on or not, you are not alone. I know many people say, “If you need me I’m here”, but I want every single person reading this, whether I know you or not, whether you’re black, white, asian, gay, straight, bisexual, short, tall, male, female, old or young I don’t care who you are or what you look like, if you need someone to talk to about anything, I can be that person for you. No judgement. I never want someone to take further action because they feel like they can’t talk to someone because I have felt that way and experienced those feelings once before. You are not alone. You are not bothering me. You are important to me.
Every single person on this planet struggles at some point in their lives. Sometimes through mental illness and sometimes its very brief. Nobody has a perfectly happy life. Everyone can relate to struggle and that’s what makes connection so nice. There is nothing more fulfilling than talking with someone who shares the same thoughts or experiences. You do not only have to have the same struggles as someone in order to connect to them.
Being present and being there for someone, no matter if you can relate or not is so important. In todays society not only is talking about our struggles and mental illness a newer concept, but I’ve also noticed that people don’t reach out either. Obviously this is the only life I’ve lived so I can’t say for sure what happened in different generations but I know that it is very uncommon for people to reach out to others regularly. Someone you may know or be close to may be going through something huge in their life and maybe they tell you about it and you talk, or maybe they don’t say anything and its never discussed. Some people are too afraid to say anything, or to reach out. I was that person for about three years prior to making my story public. Simply asking people you encounter on a day to day basis how they are is so important. Being there for people and being PRESENT to their story is something that is absolutely crucial to helping them. If you can ask someone how they genuinely are, and they tell you, that means they trust you and you should hear them out because you don’t know if there’s anyone else they’re talking to.
Life goes by too quickly and people are way too busy. If you can take back two things from this post its that
1.) Be aware and be present for other people.
2.) You are not alone.
*3.)* I am here for you and I care about you.
You are important and you are worthy of a wonderful life. Please don’t ever forget that. Things will get better, and all is new. Don’t be afraid to step into the sun.