It is hard to be a woman. If you don’t succeed at a career while simultaneously having a cookie-cutter family wearing a size 2, and never having to poop or fart, society will make judgments. It is no wonder women have roughly twice the risk for anxiety that men do.
I’m an overachieving goal-setter. I also live with chronic anxiety and depression. The angel on one shoulder encourages me and helps me set my goals for the day, while the devil is right there on the other shoulder, telling me no one wants to see me, I have no reason to get up, I will never accomplish what I need to accomplish anyway, so I might as well give up now.
I want to achieve anything and everything, but I am paralyzed with fear. Why? Well, just for an example, OF COURSE I have a life-threatening disease, I mean look at this mole on my leg! That guy who was talking to me about my neighborhood was probably just pretending to be nice, while stalking me with murder in mind. WHY WAKE UP ANYWAY WHEN EVERYTHING IS AWFUL?
When I get up in the morning, and I begin to think about all the projects and volunteering and work and dogs and my ongoing list of life goals on my computer, I have to shut off the part of my brain that tells me I’m worthless.
Depression and anxiety on top of the unhealthy legal environment in which I work can easily bring me down, and before I know it I am binge watching investigation discovery and have only eaten a cheeto for three days.
Some days when work is hard, and I am tired of reading about small children being tortured by their own parents, I find myself doing things like making an Instagram during a court hearing solely for my dogs. BECAUSE OF LIFE.
I have learned you can’t live for other people, but you also can’t live without other people. I never would have been this bold and open before the past year, but watching your little sister hold her dying baby really gives a person perspective, and I just don’t care what people think anymore.
LIFE IS HARD. DEATH IS HARD. ANXIETY IS HARD.
We need each other! Let the hard moments change you, not make you hardened but make you strong. I live with a mood journal, medicine when I need it, natural health remedies, and I spend time doing things just for me.
I make tea before bed and put lavender in my diffuser. I reach out to people when I am having a bad day, and I volunteer with kids and hold babies every chance I can get. I am known for being a little crazy. And that is because I am a lunatic.
I am slowly filling my cup back up and being patient with myself. Being open about struggles takes the shame away. EVERYBODY’S GOT SOMETHING, EVEN IF THEY DON’T ADMIT IT.
“I feel like I need to share this with my friends because I am SO over the stigma surrounding mental health” is how I began my most open and vulnerable Facebook post to the people who care about me. I continued…
“Most people who know me know that I am very transparent about my anxiety that really revved up in the past few years (thanks, again, law school). It is so important to take care of yourself – I was doing well (or so I thought) but losing three important people in 9 months took a toll.
I forgot to take care of myself, and it culminated with an ER visit with a crippling, horrifying panic attack. Learn from me, and take care of yourself. If you need medicine for your mental health, TAKE it; if you need to go to a counselor, GO.
There is no shame in it. And everyone’s got something even when they don’t admit it. Less wine, more water, fewer cheese quesadillas and more veggies will be where I start. (It’s all connected.) It’s silly how many people don’t understand that these are MEDICAL issues. It’s not something to be ashamed of, getting help takes courage. God bless.”
A Note From Jory Micah:
I met Amanda through my pastoral counseling business/ministry. She told me that she had set a goal to practice better self-care this year, and part of that self-care was reaching out to me for Christian advice, support, and mentoring.
After our first session together, Amanda asked me to read the blog post above and offer her feedback before she shared it with the world on her personal blog. I loved it, and related to it so much that I asked her to post it on my blog as a guest post.
Here is the thing. Many people may not know this about me, but I know what it is like to struggle with clinical depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and chronic physical pain. It is, to say the least, traumatizing.
Sometimes growing up in religion does not help either. I cannot tell you how many times I have had hands laid on me, as Christians prayed that I would be healed. Sadly, even with all of these prayers for over a decade, I have yet to experience full healing.
Truth be told, I have learned to manage all of these things through avoiding stress as much as possible, keeping my sleep patterns consistent and healthy, seeking counseling myself in certain life seasons, trying to eat and drink water consistently, forcing myself to do things “I think I love” even when depression tries to take over and tells me that I don’t love to do anything, hanging out with people who love and accept me for me, understanding that I may have to back out of a commitment sometimes, and taking the appropriate medications.
Growing up in the Church, sometimes we are told that we should not take medication; that we should rely on God to heal us. Some Christians go as far as saying that taking medication shows a lack of faith in God; but quite honestly, this is insane thinking.
My husband is a type one diabetic. If he decided not to take his insulin, he would die. Sicknesses in the brain are just as legit and serious as sicknesses in the body. If we ignore mental illness, and allow it to go untreated, it only gets worse and can most certainly lead to suicide risk or destructive behaviors that could lead to death.
Mental illness is not a moral flaw or character weakness. It is simply an illness, like any other illness. It can affect anyone, whether you are an attorney like Amanda, or a minister, like me. There is no shame in mental illness, whatsoever, and I pray we will all seek the help we need, no matter the sort of pain we are facing in our lives.
If you need pastoral counseling and advice, or simply a Christian mentor, please check out my very affordable fee. I would love to work one on one with you via skype or phone, as we find Jesus right in the center of our pain.
Of course, my ministry cannot replace a doctor if needed, but I can certainly hold your hand, listen with an understanding heart, and walk you through any hardships you are facing. Chances are, I have been there. See more details by following the link below—>
Amanda Swysgood is a 26-year-old attorney who specializes in child abuse and neglect litigation, as well as a small business co-owner. She has spent much of her career advocating for women and children, and is passionate about the intersection of faith, mental illness, and women’s issues. Amanda volunteers with refugee and foster care organizations in her community, is on the committee for the St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital Kansas City 5K Run/Walk, and is active in the Association for Women Lawyers. She is also a proud dog-mom. Through all of Amanda’s accomplishments, she has battled with mental illness, and is dedicated to ending the associated stigmas. Follow Amanda’ blog HERE.
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