They say you’re always in your head
Retake your life from the thoughts that hold you hostage. It doesn’t matter anymore. Live in today. Live in right now. Whatever pain you’ve gone through has made you into the beautiful, empathetic, caring, ruthless, ambitious, untouchable, unstoppable creation that is you. You are a progressed product of what has happened and all of that is now over. You lived in the pain and now you’ve learned. Stop picking at the wounds that are healing. Don’t make your wombs bleed again. Sometimes it feels like the same things are happening again, but guess what? Now it’s time to use what you’ve learned. Don’t fall back into the cycles that amplified your depressive or anxious thoughts. You have the power. You have all the power. I will keep telling you until you believe it for yourself.
Some morning are particularly hard, but this morning made it to top 5. I had to write myself out of a potential downward spiral into depression. I forced myself to see my self-worth and value even in the midst of heartache and self-doubt. A love letter of sorts to keep going even when feeling emotionally weak.
The face that I look at every morning is powerful and deserves peace of mind and joy amongst other things, but most important she deserves to know that her life is worth something.
As long as her heart beats, purpose flows through every vein all the time. Standing is hard, but I can’t stay down for too long.
What did I learn after I neglected my mental health? What does neglecting my mental health look like? Why is prioritizing your mental health important? How can you improve your mental health?
In my Defying Shadows article, I navigate and discuss my difficult moments with my mental health, how I learned about what mental health is, and why it’s so important.
The Mighty Mic was an amazing experience. I’m extremely grateful that I was able to collaborate with The Mighty to help my community as they find strength in their mental health struggles. Here are some highlights from my event and a message that I learned. I will be planning and hosting more events so stay tuned!
My Open Mic Poem: A Messy Masterpiece
The rain that just passed has drenched me with growing pains as the flowers sprout from my insides out.
A messy masterpiece they called me.
Sometimes my bed arrest me
I’m in trouble from the thoughts that told on me, I broke the law
Sooner than later because I deserve to be free
Because ears that need to listen will be drawn to the sounds of their voices in the distance
My Story and Advice
After some mighty poets and speakers shared I was compelled to share my story to them as well. I noticed a pattern in the themes that recurred in the poems and pieces everyone shared and thought I would give some advice based on what I learned.
Late Night Talks With Nina: Final Thoughts
Purpose, worth, self-talk, and identity were themes that recurred while I sat and soaked in the message of each story. While we are faced with difficulties with our mental health, it’s often due to mental conversations about those themes. As we continue on in our journey and our battle we must let go of the notion of a single purpose or single mission conforming to the standards of the society we live. Instead, we must continuously walk in our own self-fulfillment-whatever that looks like-while also navigating our peace through the opportunities we are able to take up. We live our life through how much we are filled with happiness and satisfaction with what we are doing. Let’s not waste ourselves with expecting purpose to manifest without manifesting ourselves in the process. We manifest purpose by being alive and continue fulfilling our own talents. Learn yourself, love yourself, and find peace through appreciating your life and the opportunity to live it.
Mental Illness and Religion
I struggled with depression for a lot of my teenage years unknowingly; falling into silent spells or isolation cycles were “normal” ways I would deal with how I felt. Because of this, depression remained regular. The pain was me.
When I thought about depression or sadness my mind would drift off to what my former pastors would suggest— praying, fasting, and going to church healed all wombs. I often heard, “mental illness was a weakness, ‘the devil’ is consuming your thoughts to keep you from what God has for you. The only way I could be better was to do what God wants me to do. If you’re continuously doing bad, then it’s your fault. You are not trying hard enough. Do not ever claim depression on your life. Don’t say that out loud! If you say it you are manifesting that demon on yourself.” Frightening, right?
Because of those words, I grew up scared of myself, my thoughts, and God punishing me. I felt relief in my good days but tormented on my bad. Maybe if I tried to be “as holy” as I could then maybe I would feel better. The day never came where just praying and fasting relieved my depressive thoughts though.
Here Comes Anxiety…
When first faced with crippling anxiety, I felt ashamed, embarrassed, and discouraged. I isolated myself and talked to no one about my struggles. It wasn’t real. I tried to push harder even when I felt exhausted. Self-care, mental health, or anxiety weren’t words or phrases I knew much about anyway. I just had to pray, right? My relationship with God is not strong enough. I kept pushing myself well past my physical and mental limits until I couldn’t anymore. The more I dismissed my symptoms and repressed my feelings, the more I felt powerless, hopeless, and weak.
In order to feel better, I challenged myself to think deeper. What do I do to move forward? As I constantly struggled to find peace in my mental turmoil, I looked to my writing and voice for refuge. The day I felt most empowered, most liberated, and most peace fell on one day, the day I uttered the words “I have depression and struggle with anxiety.”
While I long left the church because I wanted to find myself aside from religious indoctrination, I started writing, and the words I typed and wrote freed me from my thoughts. Thoughts became tangible. Words became ideas I could look at. I manipulated those words to something positive and uplifting. I began reflecting on and discussing what mental health meant for me, asking critical questions combining my pain with creativity. Excitement filled me again.
My projects now bring me to life, they are my medicine. The words I utter, the words I write are my power. I am new, I feel refreshed. I wage war on my mental health struggles, expectations, and stereotypes that bind me and my progress (hence why my writing space/blog is SparklyWarTanks).
Even though I still struggle, I continue to write and think of new and creative ways to express myself. I’m currently planning and hosting events too! There is power in words, whether it’s saying them, writing them, or thinking them.
Claiming my anxiety and depression was not a downfall manifesting struggle and doom to my life, claiming anxiety and depression gave me the power that helped me to liberate my perspective, relieve my mind, and continue on in the progression of becoming myself.
Im super excited to announce that I’m writing for another mental health website!
Here is my anxiety story. A story that is told from now a place of confidence from once a place of fear and embarrassment. Anxiety will not limit me.
Voices of Mental Health first article:
“Having anxiety, depression, or any mental illness or limitation does not mean we can’t have high standards, ambitions, and goals. We just know where our boundaries and limits lie. We must prioritize our self-care over anything else and that is ok. The constant task of weighing our options and declining some opportunities will be our regular because we know that we can’t do everything. That’s what self-care is.”
My #metoo story
When I was in middle school, on my way to school one day, a grown man grabbed my butt. Startled and confused I looked back trembling to see him smiling as he walked away in satisfaction of his actions. I did not know this man. There were hundreds of kids around as it was by a high school and bus stop. I trembled the rest of the day, could feel my nerves all of sudden feel uneasy. I avoid the area where this happened to me. I feel uncomfortable to be alone outside sometimes. I’m hyperaware when I’m alone and often paranoid to walk by large groups of guys.
What’s happening now makes me more uncomfortable and afraid then I was before. The power I lost that day was unreal. To see so many women coming out in #metoo, to express their hopelessness in this country’s justice system to help makes me disgusted. To read the comments on these posts of people justifying these actions because of a loss of time or lack of evidence makes me furious. No one saw what happened to me that day, where there were swarms of people. I didn’t think what happened to me mattered. I didn’t understand what was going on. I didn’t grasp the idea that this was not ok. All I felt was a loss of self and of safety. I just want to feel safe again. When will I feel safe again?
It was a lot to think about this today. To think how often sexual assault, rape, and harassment happens on a daily basis. As women, we have to always be aware, be awake, and be looking out for our safety. It’s not fair for us to live like this. I’ve been disgruntled and uncomfortable all month.
Stay safe and be careful. It’s never your fault if these horrible things have happened to you (whether you’re a man or a woman).
I love you and I’m here if anyone wants to vent.
When I look at myself, this is what I see. I see someone who is able, but troubled, someone who loves, who cares, a fighter, a creator, a writer, a empath. When I see myself, I see someone who is many things. I see someone who has the power to be someone. I see change. I see struggle. I see growth.
Look at yourself. What do you see?
Make sure to look at all parts of you. All the parts that make you someone.
Sometimes we look at ourselves and we don’t know what we see. We don’t know who we are.
Look at yourself and tell me what you see.
You are a beautiful multifaceted masterpiece. It’s not enough to look at our pain and let it define all of who we are. We have to break ourselves a part to get to every piece of jewel.
We have so much in us that we toss to the side. We must dig deep to find our drive and our will to continously know who we are.
Let’s find our light together.
Heal with me.
Comment below what you see when you look at yourself. Focus on everything (not just the good or the bad, but remember to be gentle with yourself). And as we begin to see, we begin to reflect and to grow in our self-acceptance.
From Facebook memes to gaming platforms: Where college students turn when they can’t discuss mental illness on campus
Nina Rondon is a 24-year-old Latina woman who grew up in a conservative Christian family in Brooklyn. She has suffered from anxiety and depression for several years but initially didn’t know how to describe her experience.
“Especially in the Latinx community, you don’t want to say you have depression,” Rondon said. “You don’t get treatment. You pray about it.”
Read more in the link above in article by Aneri Pattani