Mental Health Awareness Is Not Just for a Month Long

#YouAreNotAlone Strength is in you!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

But for people like me Mental Health is not just one month. It is an everyday, every hour, every minute, Every second fight.

I fight anxiety and depression every second of my life. It is a battle I probably will never win, but also, I vow to never lose to it as well.  Every day I wonder how I am going to get through the day.

Am I suicidal? NO!

Do I suffer? YES!

This, as with all my blogs, this is not a pity party blog. It is to show people who don’t suffer from Mental Health issues what it is like to have to deal with this every day. Then to throw on the fact that I have health issues both rare and not rare to factor into my everyday life.

It is tough, but I have learned that losing is not an option. I won’t say that was something I learned overnight. I wish it was something I could have learned how to deal with this overnight. Sure, would have helped. Also, it would of saved me so much energy as well. But life is an ever-learning evolution of life.

So let me describe one day in my life. I woke up in pain just like every other day. You see my pain level is a 6-7 on a level from 1-10. Even with that some days are good, and others are not.  I always say I never know how my day is going to go until I wake up. That is not to say I don’t make plans. When I wake up, I don’t know if those plans will come to fruition until that morning, in some cases it is an hourly decision. As a chronic and rare disease patient it is tough, but I also must take a mental inventory as well.

At least with your physical health, you can take an inventory and pretty much know how much I can do each day. When it comes to my mental health, I have no idea what is going to happen from moment to moment.

Today, I just broke down. Why? I don’t know. What happened to kick this off? I don’t know. When is it going to happen? I don’t know. That is a lot of “I don’t know.” That much I do know.  

When I say I broke down I mean I started crying for what I would say is no reason, but there must be a reason. I just haven’t figured it out yet.

This unfortunately happens often. Me being a guy who needs to rationalize everything, I start to over-think. Well, that makes things worse. I get frustrated so what starts out as me tearing, turns out to be me crying uncontrollably. I have a great counselor and if I called her every time, I cried she wouldn’t have any other patients. I am a rational person, so I try to address it by myself. But I am learning that I will never know the reasons.

Mental Health takes a toll on every part of my life. It is exhausting, it messes with my physical health, but most of all it is debilitating. There are days where my diseases tell me “All you are going to do today is lay down and you are going to have to deal with it.” There are also days when my mental health tells me the same. It is a different feeling, but nonetheless it is there. Also with mental health it pops up out of nowhere, and for no reason.

So today I am fighting back the tears. I must have triggered something but don’t know what it was. I was and am laying down and crying. No this is not a cry for help! It is my reality. I am sure this is many other people’s lives as well. I usually start listening to music to calm down. Some days it helps other days not so much. Today, inconclusive so far.  Some days I just let myself cry. I think today may be one of those days.

I am sure you may be asking why I am writing this? Why put your dirty laundry out for everyone to see? Well, I do this because I want to tell others in the same position as me, that it is okay to feel this way. It is okay to not be strong all the time. It is okay to let your emotions take over at times. It is better to let emotions out so you can face them. Holding them in can and will be detrimental to your mental and physical health at some point.

I know this to be true from my past. I have learned from my past. Let me tell you about a day in September 2015. I was in a bad place. I was in so much pain. I was trying to sabotage my life because I felt I didn’t deserve anything good. I felt like I wasn’t getting the right care for my physical health. I was told that there wasn’t much else they, the doctors, could do to help with my quality of life. For days on end, I couldn’t get out of bed due to my physical and now that I think about it my mental health as well. But at that time my pain level was 9-10. I felt like I was a burden to my family, my friends, (the few I had), and to anyone else that knew me. Yes, part of it was feeling sorry for myself, but at that time I just wanted it to end. I wanted everything to end.  I wanted to just go to sleep and never wake up. I never thought I would ever be in that position. Here I am, what I thought a strong person. Showing and fighting for myself and others with my rare disease, but all the while just wanting to die. Yes, I can say that now. I just wanted to die. I was being selfish; I know that now. At the time you try to rationalize how dying would be better for everyone else and for you. Whether it is right or wrong, mostly wrong, you think about how everyone would be better off without you. So, I decided I was going to commit suicide. Yes, I actually planned it all out. I had the means, I had how I was going to do it as well. I had the plan, means and the most important thing the will, or so I thought.  There was one last move that I made that day. I called my counselor. Why did I do that?

Now, I say that I did it because as much as I told myself I wanted to die; I really didn’t want to. I just wanted the pain, both physically and mentally, to stop. I was tired. I was tired of being in pain, I was tired of being a failure, and most importantly I was tired of losing. How can I say that you might ask? Well, I call it “The Tears of a Clown.” There is this great song from the 60s called “Tears of a Clown.” By Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. On the outside I showed strength but just like my invisible rare disease on the inside I was crying. I still do that. It is easier to show happiness and tell people “I am okay” than tell them I was a mess on the inside. It came with less explanation.

So, what did I do that day? I did something that was even harder than committing suicide, I asked for help. I went to the hospital and put myself in a 72-hour watch. For those that don’t know what that is, it is going to the hospital and telling them I had thoughts and planned to commit suicide. To this day it was one of the hardest things I had to do. I had to break down my walls. I had to be vulnerable. I had to be honest with myself. While in the hospital, I thought about how I couldn’t even do that right. I failed at even killing myself. But I realized in time I didn’t fail. I succeeded! I succeeded at the hardest part. I succeeded at wanting to live.

So, the reason I wrote this is to let everyone know that having bad days, weeks, months, and years are part of living. It is what makes you strong not weak.

When I started writing this, I stopped in the middle of it. I was going to “finish it later.” But my later is today. I feel I needed to write this for myself just as much as anyone else reading this.

So, today may not be a good day, tomorrow may not be as well. I just have to tell myself one of these days will be better and I will be a better person for it.


Author: fjr311

Frank Rivera- Founder/President- Sarcoidosis of Long Island Founder/President- RareNY Frank Rivera founded Sarcoidosis of Long Island in 2012. In 2011 Frank was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis after being misdiagnosed with lung cancer for 7 years prior. Since opening Sarcoidosis of Long Island he has been a local, state and federal advocate for Sarcoidosis to raise awareness for Sarcoidosis in the government sector. He has also spoke at two Congressional briefings for Sarcoidosis. Frank is a National Ambassador for Foundation for Sarcoidosis Patient Ambassador for Illumina Frank organized RareNY in 2016, to raise awareness for Rare Diseases in New York. He organized “A Day for Rare Diseases” in October 2016 in New York with Global Genes. The event raised awareness for all 7000+ rare diseases to the public.

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