I have battled with my mental health for close to a decade. I work really hard to protect myself and limit my struggles as best I can. Once I started showing up for myself, the darkest days became more tolerable.
What Does A Bad Day Look Like For Me?
In a calendar year, I probably have 5-10 truly bad days. A typical bad day looks like this: there is an overwhelming cloud of negativity surrounding my entire identity, life and a debilitating lack of hope. But the thoughts no longer lead to questioning life, living or if it’s worth it. Your life is always worth fighting for. The waves are small. My darkest thoughts that once dominated my brain for months at a time are short lived. Now, they hit me for less than a few hours because of the time I spent with multiple psychologists, hours of journaling and spending the better part of each day internally reflecting on my life. I rarely run with headphones, and time on trails is often where I do my best thinking. Good or bad.
What I’m Trying To Understand About My Mental Health
Now, I feel embarrassed when I have a bad day. I pride myself with being a mental health advocate but there are days where I no longer have full control over my negative thoughts. These negative thoughts can spiral down quickly into a feeling of emptiness. I’m living my dream. I write, run, and coach a few athletes. My days are filled with marketing outreach, exploring local trails and preparing myself for my races. I’m living a life that I thought was only possible in my dreams.
This pursuit of the life I want, leaves me feeling guilty when I have a bad day. This feeling is something that I’m still trying to understand. My biggest trigger is often weather related since I put so much internal pressure on myself to run well. After all, I’m a professional runner. I’ve centered my entire life around becoming one of the best trail runners in the world and this feeling I get on bad days is something I continue to battle. I often wonder if I’m doing enough on those days, or if I deserve this opportunity, I’ve worked so hard for.
I’m Hesitant To Share My Mental Health Struggles
The reason I keep it to myself is because I feel like sharing this struggle would make people think I’m entitled or ungrateful for the opportunity I’ve been given. A bad day doesn’t look as bleak as it once did. There have been moments in my life where getting out of bed for a run was a win for the day. Most of my waking moments would be spent questioning if life was worth living at all. This feeling, this period of depression, went on for the better part of a year. Now, a bad day involves me staring outside. I look out the window watching the rain fall and my motivation to run dwindles. It’s not depression anymore. It’s likely just an emotion I feel: sadness.
Give Yourself Permission
I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to embrace the bad days. We shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling sad when our lives appear to be put together to the outside world. The human experience is complex. Happiness is forever fleeting, but sadness, anxiety and depression often ebb and flow at the same rate. It’s okay to have bad days, weeks or seasons. Masking these bad days and putting a smile on your face can only delay the pain you feel inside. Take care of yourselves and remember that life is a roller-coaster, let’s just enjoy the ride.