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My Mental Health Month Confession

Categories Living Life (and not going insane), Randomness0 Comments

I have posted before about my struggles with mental health, and I will continue to do so.  Not so that you can pity me (you shouldn’t, I’m fine), or so that you can give me a hug and sympathize (I would rather pretend I never said anything, lol).  

I post about this to contribute to the breaking down of the stigma’s and the feelings of isolation that accompany such things.  I have often heard the following:

  • I never would have thought you struggle with anxiety!
  • I had no idea you were having suicidal thoughts at that time.
  • You always seem so happy.
  • How can you be an introvert?!  You seem so bubbly.

And those are perfectly normal things to think, because we hide our emotional issues.  It is much harder to get ahead in life when people cannot depend on you or think your issues will make you a less than stellar person to work with.  

All of that is false. 

Most people with mental health issues learn how to cope with them, and continue to work on them to improve their outcomes and general happiness in life.  I want to take some time to stand in solidarity with all people out there who struggle.  We each have our own complex situations of causes and factors, constraints and obligations, sources of joy and pain.  There is no one perfect fix for any of us, but helping people to recognize that there are many, many capable and freaking awesome people out there with some issues is important.  I am so glad that so many celebrities have “come out” lately with their experiences.  

So here is a close-up photo of me.  Ugh, my skin is crawling just doing this, but I hope it will be cathartic for me, to no longer carry this secret (that is probably obvious to others anyway).  

Do you see how sort of frizzy my hair looks?  It isn’t.  My hair is limp and long and flat.  I have a ton of new hair growth, at all different lengths, all over my head.  I have a lot of nervous, self-destructive grooming habits, like scratching at the follicles on my head, or pulling at my hair, excessive combing with my fingers, chipping away at my nails, etc.  I basically can’t control it, and the hubs was afraid I would end up bald.  I am super thankful I haven’t, but I do get comments whenever I go to get my hair cut, because it’s not normal.  Hair care products don’t make the new growth lay flat.  I guess I could just cut my hair super short again, but that is no fun when it comes to hair whipping dance moves I love to do.  So it will stay long for now.  

I have always been super ashamed of this habit, but really it’s quite obvious I suppose to onlookers, but I feel like by not saying anything I might blend in.  But blending in only serves to tell others that I am problem free, that my life is easy and I don’t struggle.  It is really strange, the dichotomy between being fully capable and being able to succeed in a variety of things, yet feeling so completely incapable of controlling the anxiety that makes me pick at my scalp.  Some days are better than others.  I have taken to wearing fake nails because they ruin the sensation that seems to drive me to do it more often, but they are ruining my normal nails.  LOL, as if my normal nails ever looked good.  Ha.  

So anyway, here it is.  My little contribution to the lessening of stigmas related to mental health/illness.  Please be sure not to write off everything else a person is worth just because one aspect of them is lacking.  

And don’t ever hire me for a hair ad campaign.  LOLOL.  

Over and out.

Update: Immediately after posting this, I was walking a little taller than usual, a little prouder than usual. I should be proud of all I do, because it is done in spite of how I am wired. Just like scars from pregnancy and birth are battle scars, so are my tiny little new hairs. :D

I will continue on this simultaneous journey towards self-acceptance and self-improvement.

Jennifer Jasensky is currently a New Jersey resident, formerly a resident of Dubai and Singapore, and a Chicagoland native. A former mathematics teacher and dancer/choreographer, she is an outgoing homebody and perpetual idealist whose love of learning knows no bounds. She hates writing bios, so that's all you get. :D

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