Confession: Sometimes I Use Mental Illness as an Excuse for Flakiness

woman in bed texting

This story is a part of our Mental Health Confessions series, a collection of stories from people who open up about times they felt guilty or conflicted about their mental health issue.

I’m pretty tolerant of most types of people, but I absolutely hate flakes. I have cut off friendships because I can’t deal with others’ flakiness, especially when it comes down to repeated incidents of bailing on plans at the last minute.

However, some might say I’m a hypocrite. Why? My mental illness, at times, causes me to become the very type of person I hate.

Friendship is a two-way street. We expect our friends to put in the same amount of time and emotional labor into maintaining a relationship as we do ourselves. Of course, we know this isn’t always the case, and I’ll be the first to admit it: with some of my friends, I feel like I am giving less than I’m getting. I’ve flaked on even the best of my best friends, and I fear one day they’ll decide to cut me loose because of it. Continue reading Confession: Sometimes I Use Mental Illness as an Excuse for Flakiness

A Millennial’s Guide to Mental Illness in the Workplace

millennials meeting open office

I was 21 the first time I had a nervous breakdown at work. It was my first job out of college, working retail at a flagship shoe store in Manhattan. One task was to stand in the doorway, smile, and greet customers. Sounds easy enough, right? Usually it was, but other times, when I was going through depressive phases or masking an anxiety attack, forcing a smile felt like having teeth pulled.

I’d stand fidgeting with my name tag, quietly saying hello to customers, giving my best close-lipped smile, trying my best to look charming without breaking down. A new manager-in-training approached me, and I knew some criticism was coming. They rarely approached employees to say, “Good work.” I was right. He told me to speak louder and smile.

Tears started welling and I speed-walked downstairs to the bathroom. Slumping down to the floor, I sobbed. I cried so hard I thought I was going to vomit. Faking happiness for eight hours a day was nearly impossible, and I didn’t have the energy to pretend I was OK for a second longer. Once I’d gotten rid of most most of the tears, I went back upstairs and asked an older manager if we could talk in his office. Continue reading A Millennial’s Guide to Mental Illness in the Workplace

Summertime, and the FOMO’s Not Easy

woman smartphone summer

I’ve always dreaded holidays like the 4th of July — and this has nothing to do with the fact that I’m lacking American pride. Occasions that aren’t family-centric like Christmas or Thanksgiving generally come along with an obligation to have plans with a group of friends or significant other. As a result, we feel the need to have something special planned (because you know everyone’s going to be asking you what you’re doing for the 4th) and make what we do look epic on social media (because getting a lot of “likes” means that we’re doing something right).

It’s a lot of pressure. Hello, anxiety!

FOMO, or, fear of missing out, goes hand-in-hand with the uneasiness that can arise from the holidays or the onslaught of summer fun in general. FOMO is so real that it was recently added to the Oxford Dictionaries, and defined as, “Anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.”

There’s SO much pressure to attend events and socialize on the 4th of July…and every other weekend throughout the summer season. Naturally, this can be rough on anyone’s mental health, but the FOMO dynamic is taken to another level when mental illness comes into play, when sufferers may already feel on edge about social situations. In this case, summertime events can definitely be a trigger. It’s hard enough for someone with social anxiety or depression to face interacting with others. Add on the resentment and guilt that comes with the fear of missing out, and you’ve got yourself a dangerous, and combustible combination.

Here are a few pointers (tested by yours truly) to keep your FOMO at bay. Continue reading Summertime, and the FOMO’s Not Easy

Depression: How to Deal When It’s Not Just Seasonal

woman sunset depression

On cold, rainy days, you’re allowed to be miserable and lazy. It’s totally acceptable to stay in, nap, and watch Netflix all day. From the months of May through September, however, you’re supposed to get outside, enjoy the weather and be happy. You’re supposed to have the time of your life in summer! But what if your depression is so bad that you can’t get out from underneath your covers? What good will the sun do you then?

Though summer marks a victorious finish line for sufferers of seasonal depression (or, seasonal affective disorder), the new season brings little to no relief for people with major or clinical depression, since triggers and causes usually run deeper than lack of sun or daylight hours. In fact, I’ve probably been at my very worst during certain summers, when the only time I felt like my mood was matched was when I’d lock eyes with a fellow distressed commuter at 8:30 AM on a Monday in a packed subway car reeking of body odor. Depression is extra lonely in the summer.

Confession: I envy people with seasonal affective disorder. It even has a cute acronym, SAD — unlike MDD (major depressive disorder) which doesn’t discriminate when it comes to seasons. Not to minimize a very real and difficult condition, but personally, I’d trade my MDD for SAD any day. To know that my depression symptoms were limited to a specific time frame would make them more manageable. Plus, SAD often occurs during a season when it’s more socially acceptable to feel such things. People can understand depression in the winter (and love to say, “Wow, this weather is so depressing”), but it’s difficult for them to grasp how someone can be down in the dumps when it’s nice out. Continue reading Depression: How to Deal When It’s Not Just Seasonal

A Day in the ER: Hitting Rock Bottom with My Anxiety

ambulance red light woman anxiety

As part of May’s Mental Health Month, we shared stories that raised awareness about mental illness and empower those who suffer from it. This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others. #LightYourWay

Every morning before work was exactly the same. Prior to getting out from under the covers, I spent time dreading the day that was ahead of me. I’d look out my window at the downtown Manhattan skyline — it no longer brought me joy. Then, I’d cook scrambled eggs and toast, only to take one tiny bite of each before dumping it all in the trash. This was my life as a 21-year-old who had everything going for her. But, with crippling depression and anxiety, it didn’t matter.

Each day in the summer of 2015, when my mental health was at its shakiest, I got weaker and my clothes got baggier. I had no desire to eat, which is how I knew something was seriously wrong. One morning in August, I woke up weaker than usual. What did I expect? I’d barely eaten in days. How could I when I felt so horrible? I could barely get out of bed, and when I did, I thought I was going to topple over. My mind raced, I was petrified.

Leaving my building, my hands trembled. Every step seemed to be a step closer to passing out. Before even getting to the street corner, I decided going to work wasn’t physically possible. Quickly but cautiously, I walked back to the entrance, one hand gripping onto the building’s exterior, and told the security guard I needed an ambulance. I was mortified. Continue reading A Day in the ER: Hitting Rock Bottom with My Anxiety