Having a Mental Breakdown Is A Privilege Not Everyone Can Afford
I'm 23 years old and still have moments when I find myself wanting to curl up under my desk with a bottle of wine and bawl my eyes out.
At night, I toss and turn, running reports of “what if” and “why not” through my head, over-analyzing what I said right or wrong, or what I could've said differently.
I was not diagnosed with general anxiety disorder until high school. Although I successfully navigated my childhood, I wonder how different things would've been if I'd known how to confront and channel my anxieties earlier.
I can recall two distinct mental breakdowns in my life so far.
One was during my junior year of high school. Combine the pressures of upcoming college application deadlines, low self-self-esteem, an eating disorder, and a birth control pill that was incompatible with my body chemistry, and it was the perfect recipe for my first panic attack. A panic attack that led to missing the last semester of that year.
My second breakdown came last year after being diagnosed with an STD. It was a blow to my sexual self-esteem. I don't think I had the vocabulary required to understand what I was going through, so I drank through it instead.
STDs are so stigmatized and rarely discussed that very few people have the knowledge required to talk about them, or cope with them.
Once I began talking about my experiences, I began to realize that I was not alone in my feelings of shame and guilt, or my herpes status.
I uncovered an underground community of women in similar situations of myself, people who could relate to my feelings.
Although an STD diagnosis is not classified as a mental illness, I learned how significant a role it plays in one's mental wellbeing.
There are increasing efforts being made to draw awareness to mental health. Hashtags like #TalkingAboutIt help destigmatize these illnesses and educate people on how to talk about these issues.
It has created a community, conversation, and normalcy among those with anxiety, depression, and other mental health illnesses.
But what about those who don't have access to these conversations?
Ironically, the one thing I never worried about during my recovery process was getting through it.
I could afford therapy sessions and Zoloft. I could afford yoga and gym memberships. I could afford to be unemployed, or work temporary assignments.
I knew I had my family to fall back on if I slipped, or needed a little extra time to regain my mental well-being.
Unfortunately, not everyone is as lucky.
I come from a middle-upper class, white, American family where both of my parents earn a respectable living, with significant health benefits. If ever I hit a low point, I know I have their support. They would be there for me 100%.
That's not to say we should continue to be coddled through our twenties, but it's nice to know there is a system of support in place to help you through the times you need a little extra love and guidance.
Not everyone has this background or upbringing, which is an important reminder as to why we should keep #TalkingAboutIt for those that suffer in solitude with suicidal thoughts or incessant worry. For those who don't have access to communities that give them the vocabulary needed to reach out to someone. For those who cannot afford therapy or medication.
We should be #TalkingAboutIt for them, so that one day, they don't need access to Twitter, or higher education to understand or navigate the struggles ricocheted within their skulls.
Our twenties: between student loans, unpaid internships, relationships, and currently, constant political debate, it's difficult to maintain a peaceful, mindful foundation where we can achieve success.
I enjoy being busy, but sometimes I forget that it's important to take a few steps back and be at peace, if only for a few minutes a day.
As much as I have my shit together, I'm still learning to #TalkingAboutIt, for my sanity and those who don't know these campaigns exist.
Our conversations may not seem like they accomplish much, but collectively, our words create the missing vocabularies of mental health.