The Mental Boardroom

In the last month I hit lows with my depression that I haven’t felt in a long time. This last month I felt like I was being thrown against a brick wall. Everything in my body was exhausted. My mind was going into overdrive. I cannot place what my trigger was but I can say this time I really went to the darkest place that exist. This dark place is hard to break out of because of the mental and physical hold that it takes. Its like having a parasite latch onto your brain by doing so it drives the host crazy until nothing is left.

My depression is not my friend if anything I wish it would completely disappear into a different dimension. I have several things wrong with me in the mental department. Most of my issues are a direct result of my depression or as my therapist put it subs categories. Resulting from depression is my high-functioning anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and insomnia. It may seem like a cooking pot of mental illness but under the surface depression is the CEO of Ali’s Mental department. I may be the CEO of my body but depression is the main guy in the boardroom stating it’s the boss and I hold no stakes in this company. The rest of the mental illnesses sit around the boardroom taking notes on what their duties are to complicate the relationship on healthy mind: healthy body.

I’m really grateful I have friends who remind me to stay alive. Without my friends caring and having family to tell me too not leave the boardroom meeting held by depression probably would have stayed dark. My mind would have stayed in fight club mode. Every emotion who works with rational thought fighting with the subs is not pleasant. I’m pretty sure happiness is hiding out in the broom closet again and needs to be let out sometime soon. I think anxiety locked happiness there and hid chemical balance in an unknown location. Either that or depression gave the eviction notice long ago and the good things simply walked away singing show tunes. On that note healthy sleep habits gave the middle finger and checked out last Tuesday with no polite resignation notice.

My depression thrives on chaos. When everything is going down the crap shoot of chaotic bad; depression sits there in the back of my mind smiling, it loves when I lose control. I will tell myself in the mental boardroom that I will fix this, I will be the person to kick depressions ass. The speech that I tell myself is full of gusto and yet full of false hopes. Depression and I go way back to when I was eight years old so it does know that I’m full of verbal poo. Despite the best efforts’ depression is not vacating the building anytime soon and continues to sit on throne of control.

Today I took a long lunch break as if to say eff you depression. I even got out of bed that I share with depressions minion insomnia and PTSD and thought to myself today I am going to just stay alive today. I didn’t leave my mental cubicle and wanted no part of my depressions debauchery. Though depression decided it was best to send anxiety with a tar like coffee to share, today was pleasant because for one second it remained silent. In my worst moments with depression I have to fight for my bodily rights. One good day such as today can make the difference in how the mental board meeting will go even for a short while.

Written by Ali Johnson

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Inside My Anxiety

She looks at herself in the mirror only to see her anxiety staring back at her. For the last three days she has raged war inside her mind again. It started slow she noticed how irritable she felt. Quite rages over small things and the quietest sounds. The silence she holds is deafening and no one else can hear it. The long forgotten videos of past trauma start to play in the dreams. To avoid re watching she will not sleep for weeks on end. She feels the familiar itch to pick her skin raw because that is what she can control. Time for her is passing in hours but it feels like forever.

She stands staring at herself she will analyze every flaw she believes she has. Her face is to large, her skin looks unfamiliar, she is to fat and needs to stop eating, and why would anyone call her beautiful? She feels like her skin is crawling with bumps and lumps that are only in her mind. She will pick each imaginary bump until her arms are covered in scabs. Today she avoided eating because she feels sick to her stomach. Binging and starving is what she knows to do. Its familiar when everything else in her life is crashing around her. She will hear the voice of long ago telling her she is stupid and ugly. She is diseased and needs to be cured. Her mind right now is being bombed with thoughts of wanting to be free.

Everyone on the outside thinks she is strong but as she stares at herself she knows otherwise. She feels weak and worn. Her insides are shredded paper. She cannot understand how her kids called her the best mom today as she fed them Kraft dinner for the second time this week. They binged TV today because she could not talk herself into doing what is needed around the house. She hated that she just wanted to look at her phone and forget that she is here for one more day. This is not her the mom that lets her kids rot their brains and eat processed food galore.

This is not her and she knows it. She knows that it will pass again, and she will feel happy for a short period. It could be weeks or months before she will feel normal again. It makes her so angry on the inside to be this person and battle the mental demons eating her away. Praying that this time will be the last, she knows this is not it. Her body aches with feelings of being squeezed until her insides fall out. The tears she is holding so her children will not see them sting in the back of her eyes. Rejection of happy thoughts are her battle. Anger fills her with desperation to not feel panicked because she cannot place her finger on what brought this on. It feels as though water is above her head, she cannot breathe.

Inside of her sits the person that vacated today. That other side of her the one that makes jokes and feels good is vacationing hopefully to return soon. The spirit that lives right now is temporary. The damage control once she decides to go back to the dark space of the mind is disheartening. I hope that she knows one day we will be OK, and we as two spirits will work together to stay alive for one more day.

Written by: Ali Johnson

Focusing On Men’s Mental Health

I remember a time when I was arguing with my husband; in a moment of causing verbal pain, I yelled at him saying you don’t have to balance anything. The words lingered in the air like bait waiting for the fish to bite. Instead of firing back at me he just simply said I balance just like you, I’m just not as verbal about it. Taken back by that I had a deeper look into what men go through on a daily basis. We as society forget that men have to have balance in their lives just as women do.

We had a moment in our relationship where my partner was feeling depressed. He wouldn’t admit to it but it became noticeable. He was not eating nor sleeping well. One of the more noticeable signs was his anger at little things. He felt that he was burdened with copious amounts of responsibility with no hope to move forward. In his mind he was struggling to be the man that he was told to be. This is a common notion among men in our generation. Having the title ” be the man” creates a monster in helping men understand getting help is not a weakness.

Part of the problem of older generations is the toxic masculinity placed on young boys to suck up their feelings and just deal with it. So when depression and mental illness do arise people like my partner push down their struggles and refuse help. This is problematic for young men who will continue the cycle of trying to be manly with no support system to cope when these hidden illnesses come about. It creates a lack of understanding on what needs to be done to create better supports for fathers, children, and young men.

We as society have to see a different ideal and better understanding of what men go through. Breaking the mould of toxic masculinity is a big step that starts with talking to younger generations about acceptance of feelings. The next big leap for helping men in mental health is breaking the stigma that men do not need mental support because they do not suffer like women do. The third big step in changing this is stop portraying men as bad parents and treating them as unintelligent. We as society need to support younger generations of males and give help to guide them instead of breaking them down. By giving support there would be changes in parenting, changes in suicide rates, changes in quality of life among males. Stronger futures can be made given the chance to pave the way for our sons, brothers, fathers, and boys only if we can end toxic masculinity within our mindsets.

Written by: Ali Johnson

Anxiety taking over.

My anxiety this week is out of control and I have no idea why it came on. I started this week on a good note nothing out of the ordinary. I kept to my routines and thought I was on track with everything. Oddly enough I finally had sleep after four days of sleep regression from my toddler. Eating healthy again normally boosts my system in keeping my anxiety down about eating food.

Try as I might I don’t know what my trigger was this time. Knowing when it’s getting bad again because I get the increasing feeling of uneasiness. The irritated feeling creeps up ever so slowly I feel like a volcano about to burst. Self doubt start to plague my every move to the point I don’t want to talk on my phone or answer calls. Plans get put off until I can handle this feeling of drowning on the surface and catch my breath.

Sometimes I can talk myself out of the anxiety spell that falls into my lap. Other times it’s like a bad cold I cannot shake. I know that there is no magical pill to take this all away. Often I wish I could be magic wave some wand casting the spell of clearing my anxiety. I hate how my body feels right now.

I feel so tired not sleepy but emotionally and physically tired. No I did not do anything strenuous but anxiety and depression is like having a concrete being poured all over me. I have no drive to get anything done because it doesn’t feel like it matters right now. Right now I know that my anxiety is affecting everything.

I can do all the tricks to help ease this attack but most of all it will come right back. I know when an awful spell is about to come on and I brace for impact. This anxiety attack was sneaky, a little mind ninja with a sword slicing through my thoughts with rapid succession. I’ll be OK I’m always OK, right now I’m a mess. Not quite at locking myself in the bathroom and fearing the outside world, but I am not myself right now.

I am tired of feeling like I’m drowning on dry land.

Written by Ali Johnson

It's OK to not be OK. But It's Not OK to stay that way.
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