With it being mental health awareness month I contemplated openly discussing my love hate relationship with my own mental health and share my stories and tips on how to deal with it if you’re struggling.
So buckle up buttercup. This is a judgement free zone and may come as a shock to some.
I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression and PTSD at a very very young age. Like, started seeing a counselor at like age 11 and saw one until I was about 16/17. Let me be hopefully not the first to tell you that seeing a counselor does NOT make you weak. You are just working through your shit and sometimes it helps having a paid professional who has no personal ties to you to talk to.
Without going into the heavy details my childhood compared to most was a little rocky. Overall it shaped me into the person I am today so I can’t pity myself for it. Shit happens. As my grandma likes to say “you were the one who had a bad situation and instead of dwelling on it you used it to better yourself”, cue water works right before my college graduation.
I learned at a very young age how to cope with my thoughts and how to process things in a different way when something bad happens or just thoughts in general. At age 25, sometimes I still struggle with how to handle things in a healthy way. Guess what though? That’s okay. There is no age limit.
I did my time trying out different medications. It’s not for me. I know some people who swear by it and love it but for me personally it left me foggy and sometimes made the awful things running through my head much much worse. Sadly, it also is like a trial and error when it comes to medication because not all works for everyone the same. Plus the withdrawals…oh my gosh the withdrawals can be a bitch. I’ve heard weed helps for some people as well. That’s a negative ghost rider for me as well. When I was younger whenever I did smoke I’d have anxiety attacks. I did not like not being in control. I never have and most likely never will.
Ways I have combated my own head:
- This website for starters. I found an outlet to get things out in hopes of not just helping myself and having something to look back on and reflect but also possibly help others if needed. Writing is therapeutic 100%.
- I’ve taken personal days where I will just go somewhere and just walk around and be with myself and just as corny as it sounds…be alive. The most recent one was Earth Day in April. April is a hard month for me given Bri’s death anniversary and her birthday. I went to Middleton Place Plantation and walked for hours. I sat by ponds and just was “there”. I don’t know how else to describe it but it helps.
- I cut back on my drinking. I would go on binges where it would be days of just drinking. If I couldn’t sleep I’d have a drink. If I was stressed, I’d have a drink. I’ll still go out or have wine occasionally but I had to have a sit down with myself a couple times when life got tough and be like “Hunter….don’t use that as a crutch.”
- Art. Pick your poison. Be it photography or painting etc.
- Video games help with frustration and concentration. Your mind goes from concentrating on the vile things in your head to blowing up stuff on your TV or computer.
- Music. When I am feeling down driving and blasting music has been my go to for years. Again, I think it is due to you have to concentrate on driving so it takes your mind off the negative. Blasting your favorite songs and just dancing it out is so therapeutic as well.
One topic I wanted to talk more about is post traumatic stress disorder. Guess what…it’s not only a war thing. When I was younger I had a pretty mild case of it due to some situations that I couldn’t process and over time the thoughts went away. A lot of therapy helped. About two months ago I was diagnosed again with PTSD only this time it was a lot…heavier than I expected. The ironic thing was I made jokes like “I bet that shit gave me PTSD”….welp.
The thing with PTSD that I’ve learned recently is that your triggers don’t have to be a direct link to the thing that caused it. As my lovely counselor says it can be literally a feeling and then BAM there you are. Another scary thing, one second you can be fine and another you can have an extremely visual nightmare or I call them “daymares” (because you can be wide awake) and boy can it mess with your head. They can be flashbacks to the event itself or just horrible visuals. I remember back in October/November I kept having daymares for like a week straight. I could be sitting in my office at work or shooting a concert and randomly I would picture someone close to me dying right in front of me. Different ways sometimes but overall it was the same result. Then the uncontrollable urge to start crying happens. Imagine being in a public as fuck place and randomly start to cry. lol I laugh because I just remember myself working the Allen Stone show and standing on the stairs taking photos and realizing I was crying. There was ZERO reason for me to be sad at that moment.
That’s PTSD. It’s like a hidden bomb within your head and one second you are fine and the other it’s like “time to cry bitch” or “Oh, life is going perfect and you’re happy? Here is a nightmare of this person blowing their brains out at your front door one night and another night let’s have them OD.”
I warned you to buckle up.
The mind plays games with you. Sometimes (for me personally) the visuals can mess you up so horribly that for a day or so you really have to question “did that happen or did I imagine it?”
I’m not a professional but even anxiety and stress has caused nightmares. There have been a few that shook me to my core. One being that (and if you know me personally like my mother who reads these don’t call me freaking out hahaha I’m good.) about four years ago I had a dream that it was me standing in our doorway of my bedroom. Crying and borderline psychotic laughing I guess and just outright blew my brains right out. I woke up in the middle of the night screaming and in a cold sweat. No reason to have it, but after a few days I realized it was due to stress.
It was like a visual representation of me losing my shit and mind.
This brings me to my second topic, anxiety. Over the last few years I’ve noticed many people now have “anxiety”. I don’t know when the entire planet (exaggeration) became so anxious but if you do have it I feel your pain. It’s crippling. It really is some days. Some days I wake up and have to physically make myself get up and go about my day. It makes relationships hard as well. Some days I’m happy as can be and then other’s I can fall off the planet like no one matters to me and just be a hermit. When my anxiety is bad I’ll either forget to eat or eat everything. There have been days where it will be like 10 at night and it dawns on me that I hadn’t eaten a single thing all day.
For me personally, not speaking for everyone, it can also make you question the people around you. For instance I am sometimes in a battle with thinking “do my friends even like me?” and I’m talking friends I’ve had for YEARS. Friends that if they didn’t like me they have a really funny way of showing it haha. Then, ya know relationships. I remember a few years back when I had started taking prozac and needless to say…it did not agree with me. My boyfriend at the time was working out of town and I was withdrawing because I just did not like how it made me feel and just not having a fun time with it (haha). At first he thought I was over exaggerating and then one night I vaguely remember going on a rant about being a burden. My head went to a dark spot and he realized I was not exaggerating after all and was really struggling with the coming off the medication and his mom came and checked on me because he was so worried I wasn’t okay. For the record, I wasn’t “okay” but I was “okay”. If that makes sense. After my attempt at 16 and seeing it’s toll on my family and then seeing and feeling the affects of my best friend dying….don’t worry. My ass isn’t going any where. For anyone reading this who may need to hear it… NOTHING AND NO ONE IS WORTH LEAVING THIS WORLD. There is always a light at the end of that tunnel and please for the love of whatever…remember that. There is always a sunrise. Every morning. Without fail. Make sure you see that.
But it’s moments like that…being with someone who sometimes doesn’t always love themselves is a struggle. For a while I hid my anxiety from guys I talked to or dated. I was embarrassed and also thought they’d be like “oh this bitch crazy” haha It takes a special person to handle it. Friends or partners.
There is a Halsey song that I feel like if you have any form of mental “disorders” or what ever you may relate to. Her lyrics “I’m well acquainted with villains that live in my head. They beg me to write them so they’ll never die when I’m dead. And I’ve grown familiar with villains that live in my head. They beg me to write them so I’ll never die when I’m dead.” hit home. Because if you have EVER had an anxiety or a panic attack you’ll know when I say…they’re fucking terrifying. Once you have one though you fucking remember the warning signs. One thing that I started doing was when I started to feel anxious or like an attack was coming along I would count with one hand to 4 over and over. Like thumb to pinkie, to ring finger, middle and pointer. 1, 2, 3, 4 until I could feel myself catch my breath. Now sometimes sadly that plan fails haha then your whole body (or for me my back and shoulders) tense up and you (well me) do this nervous tick of like rolling your shoulders. As a way to shake it off basically. I’ve drawn blood on my palms from my grip during an anxiety attack.
*claps hands together* “And that kids is anxiety as told by Hunter.”
As I am writing this I can feel the anxiety build. Because I’m a very open person for the most part. I used to not be and then I got to the point where I’m like “I kind of just don’t give a fuck what people think at this point I can’t change it.” I’ve openly discussed my suicide attempt at 16 (which if ya didn’t know…ha well), my best friend’s death and it’s toll on me, my personal struggles with feeling good about myself and battling your own self destruction to not push yourself further. There are some topics however I am still terrified to open up about. I have them saved in drafts and will I publish them one day? I don’t know. Should I? Maybe if I think it would help someone.
My own mental health…falls into that category. Why though? Because even though we are slowly becoming more and more open to talking about mental health…there is that fear of judgement. There are so many platforms that have the #itsokaytonotbeokay or something along those lines but not everyone shares their stories.
Share your stories. Share your struggles. Don’t be ashamed of your demons. Blow them up so that they don’t scare you anymore. Like (total nerd mode) Boggarts in Harry Potter. Don’t let fear take over. Yell Riddikulus and turn that shit into Snape wearing lady’s clothes.
That’s all I’ve got today. More than I expected but ya know what…if it helps someone then great. Fellow writers…isn’t this a bitch? You feel this urge to share personal stories.
Much love as always,
If anyone reading this is struggling and needs an outlet.
Suicide hotline: 1-800-273-8255