This is a new post of the series This Lil Mind of Mine. It’s going to be in a slightly different format than the rest but I felt it necessary to keep as much detail as possible. I have edited is slightly with the writer’s permission.
Jessie can usually be found at her blog Paper Coffee Store. Go and show it some love!
The post is long but please do spend the time reading it. Jessie has a way with words – she’s a fantastic writer and her story deserves to be heard.
I have never been diagnosed with anxiety disorder or any other disorder, but I’m 99% sure I suffer either from the bipolar disorder of the first type or the seasonal affective disorder. They come with anxiety attacks and depression. Mostly during November and December, but at times, they happen in the middle of the year.
Tell me a little about yourself (and your blog if applicable)! As much or as little as you want
I am a 20 year-old girl who daydreams a lot, loves coffee and tea too much and still believes in magic. I absolutely love writing, it has been my number one passion for years along with reading. In my head there are never too many books, just too few bookshelves. I also adore learning foreign languages. Probably nothing has changed me as much as having learnt English. I’ve made lots of friends and explored variety of amazing concepts and ideas thanks to it.
My other passion is also blogging and content creation in general. Blogging about my passions gives me some kind of gateway from dark places of my mind. My blog is called Paper Coffee Store is generally filled with everything I love, so it lifts me up. Aside from that, I enjoy playing jokes on my little brother, reading poetry and sightseeing. I’m a bit geeky and I’m a worse dancer than Taylor Swift, whom I really like by the way.
How does your anxiety/mental illness affect you?
I’ve never been diagnosed, but from years of self-observation and book research, I am very sure I suffer the seasonal affective disorder. I have no desire to interact with people, and I begin to hate myself. I see only the worst in myself. Every year I was depressed and doing the bit worse in school during the fall-winter period. I initially thought I was just more ambitious in spring, but it wasn’t that. During winter, I didn’t want to exist at all. Things I really enjoyed before wouldn’t excite me anymore. In early spring, everything was back to normal again.
My highs are usually like Mount Everest and my lows are pretty much like the Mariana Trench. During most of the months I’m completely fine, but when the winter comes I’m a mess, and it changes a lot in my daily routine. Anxiety kept me from making new friends, and I barely could spend time with others, because I thought I was too stupid and ugly to even be around them. My friend Basia made it everything better, but I wasn’t the best daughter, sister and friend back in winter, and I hate very much.
Starting late autumn I start feeling very anxious and constantly sleepy.The past November and December were filled with social anxiety of some type for me. I was at college recently. I was very afraid of my professor. He was one of the nicest people I’ve met for years, but during his classes, I was filled with anxiety. My heart was pounding so fast, I felt tightness in my chest and panic attacks became my new friends. I knew I shouldn’t have reacted this way, but I couldn’t really control it.
Maybe if my major had turned out to be my dream one, it wouldn’t have gotten so bad. Instead of choosing something I loved, I chose something new without the second thought.
Eventually, completely worn out and aware that I’m heading in a wrong direction, I gave up on my studies in March. I want to restart again in October, this time choosing what I’ve loved for years. My point is not my life story, though.
For some time, I didn’t want to see anyone, let alone a doctor. I’ve been thinking a lot about finally making an appointment when I feel so miserable again.
Do your friends/family know? If so, have you involved them at all?
I’ve never been diagnosed or seen specialists, and my family thinks I’m just mentally weak. I know there’s much more to that, but they refuse to believe me. I used to tell my mom about my inability to control my thoughts and wanting to end it all, but now I regret it a bit. It’s such a burden for somebody to carry when they can’t help you fight monsters living inside your mind. That having been said, I wouldn’t have probably survived without her support this year.
When I move to a bigger city again I won’t wait for everything to go away, and I will visit a professional this time.
Mentally, the past few months were difficult for me but it’s just on the inside. On the outside everything was okay, and I think it complicates everything because it brings self-shame, you know? Some people are suffering from deadly illnesses, financial problems, deception and heartbreak and your life is pretty fine. So you start to feel guilty because you shouldn’t feel that way.
Panic attacks destroyed my well-being and I became depressed. One day everything was so wrong, and I had been crying for hours. I was researching on how many pills of a common painkiller it would take to kill me. I started obsessively thinking about suicide. Throughout years I’ve thought about suicide a lot, but never seriously. I was just fantasising what would happen if I did it and how at peace I would be, but then my thoughts would just fade away and I would be fine. This year, though, everything intensified.
My anxiety hit new high and I started having panic attacks. I was about to start counting my pills, when the phone rang. It was my mom. I had never been that close to taking my own life after that. I had a phone conversation with my mother, though, and dropped the thought.
Had I known it would have gotten out of my control, I wouldn’t have ignored it right away. Acknowledging anxiety, and not being extremely hard on myself because of it may be a key to controlling it better. Now I know it, but I learnt it the hard way.
You have your friends, a loving family, and money in your pocket, but you feel miserable. You hate yourself for that because you would like to be normal. You come to a conclusion: if even I don’t like myself, then I deserve to feel miserable. I’m worthless. The vicious circle begins.
When I felt down I was talking to my mom a lot and she tried to lift me up, but she didn’t really understand the problem. When your mind is in hell, nobody else can see the fire. At best they can see smoke, but don’t know how to stop it. I don’t blame them. My mind is a house of contradictions, and it’s hard not to get lost within its own complex ways and traps.
What positives do you think come with having a mental illness?
I think it brings different traits out in everybody, but great compassion and empathy would be probably the most obvious ones. Personally when I’m depressed and full of the void I’m probably at my best when it comes to writing. My poems are better and more emotional, and I can convey my pain into words very easily.
Aside from that, it has taught me to understand others more. I know how easy it is to break into pieces and how terrifying it is to be afraid of what is inside your head. I’ve become way more compassionate and self-aware, too. I would love to help people like me, so it inspires me to do good as well.
I am learning to be less hard on myself, and live by the motto, “treat others as you wish to be treated”. I also want other people to know self-hatred won’t help. Never.
I have been definitely doing better now, and I would even say I’m 100% happy. That’s a thing about a bipolar disorder: if you soar, you soar high… if you fall, you fall very low. To be honest, I’ve never been to a doctor. For well over half a year I’m doing really fine, I’m positive and smile a lot.
I put my fears and doubts into poetry and writing of all kinds: stories, songs, my blog posts and it helps a lot. Problems start when I’m too miserable to write. I think the key is to always have a candle with you and let it shine during the darkest nights. Keeping a gratitude journal has helped me a lot. It keeps me down to earth and reminds me of all my blessings.
Anyway, the problem with seasonal affective disorder or the bipolar disorder, in general, is that people assume it always runs your life. You can be happy, too. You can be happy for a while, but darkness eventually comes. Everybody gets lots in darkness sometimes, but in the bipolar phases of depression, it is as if the light has never existed or abandoned you for good. There is no light at the end of the tunnel and you start questioning its existence.
If you could give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Don’t stress so much over things you have no control of. Remember that you miss 100% shots you don’t take. It’s okay to be a solitaire, and eventually, you’ll make good friends too – it takes time. Plus, the best moments and people often happen outside of your perfect scenario, so give them a chance!
What advice would you give anyone else who feels they may suffer from anxiety?
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Everybody messes up at times. Stop hating yourself if you do. I am yet to meet anyone who would say self-hatred works. Exercise – it will help to relax your body. If you haven’t done it already – start a gratitude journal. It is helpful in putting things into perspective.
On a side note – what are your hopes and dreams?
I would love to publish my own books. It has been my life-long dream, and I am yet to want anything more than that. If I happened to have a career in languages or in organisations fighting for causes close to my heart, I would be probably very happy as well. I hope to fall in love, travel the world and repay my family for years of unconditional love and kindness, too. To live a beautiful life – that’s my goal.
That part of me is asleep now, but I know it will eventually wake up. It always does. I have to befriend it, tame it and keep in control, so it doesn’t take out the best out of me.
What makes you happy?
Lots of things! The top ones would be: my family, writing, blogging, running and exploring new places. Listening to music and having deep conversations about everything and nothing is my kind of bliss, too. Add hiking to that and here we have my perfect day. I also feel happy and at peace, when I make somebody feel good about themselves or help a person in any way. Making a change makes me feel worthy of the beauty is hidden in life, even when I hurt people I love too much and push away those who care.
What a great story and interview in general. Hope you’ve enjoyed it – feel free to leave any comments! You can visit Jessie’s blog here.