Journey Spotlight: Mental Health Awareness
This is Baylee A. sharing her story in her own WORDs:
"Seven years ago, I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. The most difficult part for me to accept was how quickly everything changed. It wasn’t a steady and slow progression. It didn’t warm me up first to prepare me. There was no time to hunker down and devise a plan of action. My mental illness fell unexpectedly into my lap at the most unlikely time. I was going into my senior year of college; I was a solid student and held an important position in my sorority. I was in a great relationship, and I was happy. There was a busy-ness to my life, and my awareness never extended beyond that.
I was living like a child with chalk: scribbling and drawing these beautiful designs with shades and hues and experiencing this colorful life I had created for myself. But there were cracks in the sidewalk that I would just fill in with color, and weeds poking their head out that I would design around. There was a lot of pain that was demanding to be felt, feelings wanting attention, a past that wanted to be seen, but I just kept on coloring because that’s all I knew. All I knew was to keep creating, to stay busy, and to work around anything that tried standing in the way of that.
Then one day it rained and, just like that, life as I knew it was wiped clean and all that was left were those cracks and weeds I had spent years ignoring. That was the beginning of a lifelong journey of sitting with my struggles and discomfort and listening to what they have to say. It’s turned out to be my most beautiful creation yet.
My mental illness has taught me how to be there for myself. It’s taught me the work that’s involved in moving through life happily and healthily. It has also taught me that I am still worthy, AS IS. On days I don’t feel like myself, when my thoughts are loud; when my head is foggy; when it’s difficult to even muster a laugh, I can still show up as is. I don’t have to be “on,” I just have to be me, whatever that looks like and whatever that feels like.
I have this responsibility to take care of myself, and it’s not always easy. There is an ebb and flow to my life, and I’m still accepting there is nothing linear about it. Some days I wake up glowing from the inside out, and I’m present; and I’m here and living. Then there are days when the darkness creeps in; my limbs feel heavy, and my struggles feel stronger than me. Instead of taking chalk and drawing over those days like they hold no meaning, I turn inward and let those feelings flow through and out of me. I let them run their course before they start running me and use those times as opportunities to practice self-care, self-love and acceptance.
I’m still learning that the safest place for me is in the present moment, AS IS. As myself. I don’t have to take chalk to my bad days and try and make them something they’re not, so I just let them be. It’s hard not to get angry with my brain sometimes. It’s hard not to place judgment on myself on the days I just can’t keep up and need to surrender. It’s hard not to create this expectation in my head of what I “should be” or “could be.” But I’m learning to arrive to each moment as I am- with my flaws, my quirks, my struggles, and my story. AS IS."
Looking for a community of support for Anxiety? Check out Baylee's Instagram: @anxietysupport!