I started to write this blog post like I would write any other blog post. I was trying to make sure that I included important keywords at the beginning and that it would perform well on Pinterest.
But after writing a whole 200+ word intro, I decided to scrap the whole thing and just write from the heart.
If you didn’t already know, May is mental health awareness month. And I debated if I wanted to write a post on it.
I talk about my experience, what I’ve gone through and what I’m currently going through when it comes to my mental health. But I’ve never written a whole blog post about it.
On my website, I try to keep everything related to creating your success online. And I understand that covers a lot of ground! And even in some of the posts, I’ve talked about my mental health and my personal struggles with self-image.
But I think it’s about time that I take a moment to share my mental health journey and how I’ve maintained a healthy mental state while building a successful blog, and how I got myself to the point where I’m at now.
Because if you knew me a year ago, you wouldn’t recognize the person I am now.
So let’s get into this.
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It’s been over 3 years since my mental health journey started.
At the time, I was a junior in college. And up until that point, I never understood what my friends were going through when they told me that they were depressed. Or that they had negative thoughts about themselves. Or really anything related to mental health.
I would hear other people talk about it and I just couldn’t relate because I had never been there.
But after experiencing a series of traumatic events… well I should just say that one in particular really broke me.
I remember walking back to my dorm room feeling so alone. Feeling like I didn’t want to see anyone. Like I didn’t want to change and go to the next event that I had to be at. But knowing that I had to put on a face for other people.
That was the first time I had experienced depression.
I felt empty and powerless. And while I spent several hours at the next event I had to be at, I don’t remember any of it. Because although I was there, I never felt like my body left the room from a few hours earlier.
This was the start of what I’m expecting to be a lifelong journey with depression and anxiety.
It only took a few months for me to realize that I was battling with anxiety. I would get random panic attacks and in every single situation, I would consider the worst case scenario and only worry about the what could go wrong.
I would be triggered by the littlest things. And I felt like in every moment I was clinging onto my life.
I was terrified to actually live. But I didn’t realize that I was also struggling with depression.
Looking back, there were all the signs.
As a senior in college, I was required to get a series of work into the senior art show. As a photography major, it was the final requirement to graduate. So I spent a whole year of school working on a photo series revolving around mental health.
I ended up shooting images of a Barbie doll in water. But it wasn’t just a normal Barbie in water.
She was naked, edited to have a translucent layer of actual skin to make her a little bit more lifelike and was covered in different pieces of cloth or tied up with string.
Explaining it, it sounds totally creepy! And it kinda was. But I’ll let you form your own opinions.
It’s like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.
I didn’t know at the time that I was struggling so deeply with my own mental health. I was just drawn to create this series so I did.
But this wasn’t the only series I created like this.
For my birthday, I was given a photography class to take here in Rochester. It was an alternative process that I had never completed before and I ended up absolutely loving it!
But during the last class, I was working on my print and one of the other students, Bob, came up to me asking about it.
It was a picture that I’ve shared here once before on TCB. And it was taken in December of 2016.
At that point, I was still in a terrible place with my mental health. And I needed way to express myself. So I created this image.
Bob asked me how I would describe the image. And I didn’t really know what to say. So I just kept it real.
I told him that it was taken during a dark stage in my life and I wanted to represent how I felt in the deepest parts of my soul.
Then he asked me how I got out. How I had managed to improve my mental state from that point.
My first reaction was to tell him it was a lot of things. But as soon as the words came out, I knew that I was just hiding.
So I corrected myself and said that I was lucky to realize that I was in that place and I decided to start fighting for myself.
It took me over a year and a half to realize that I was battling with depression and that something was wrong. It didn’t come easily.
But I’m glad that I was given the courage to face the darkest parts of myself. To accept what was going on and to fight it head-on.
There wasn’t anyone else that was trying to save me. I didn’t have anyone tell me that something was wrong with me.
I realized it. And I’m darn proud of that.
I like how Bob asked me ‘how I got out’. That phrase is so interesting but yet so accurate when it comes to battling with mental health.
For me, when I’m at my lowest low, I feel like I’m in the bottom of a hole just waiting for the strength to climb out.
So you might be wondering the same thing Bob asked me. What I did to help beat my depression and anxiety? And to that, I’m going to fall back on the weak answer that I told him: a lot of things.
From the very beginning, as soon as I identified what was going on in my life, I decided to take matters into my own hands. And I started my blog.
It may sound silly, that starting my blog helped me to get out of my depression, but it 100% did!
At the time, I felt like I didn’t have a purpose. That I was just going through the motions and doing what everyone else wanted me to do. So I figured the one way to really make myself happy was to become my own boss.
Pretty insane. But it worked wonders for me!
RELATED: How to Start A Blog The Right Way
Remember back to March of 2015 and that traumatic event? Yeah well, that happened in my college town and after graduation, I decided to stay in my college town and accept a full-time position.
But what I didn’t realize was that Williamsport, PA holds too much pain for me.
Every time I go back it’s like I’m reliving that original incident over and over again. And living in that town was doing nothing to help improve my mental state.
So thankfully, 1 month after starting my blog, I moved to Rochester, NY and I could not be happier!
I didn’t get into self-help books until early 2017. I was honestly a little embarrassed to admit that I was reading self-help books. So I didn’t!
But after I read one, I. Was. Hooked!
These books have completely transformed my life. But if I had to boil it down to the one that did the most damage, it would be You Are A Badass for sure.
This book was a huge wake-up call for me. It was almost like a slap in the face to get my act together.
I learned so many things and completely changed as a person. If I could hug Jen Sincero, I would jump into her arms. Because she was a huge help in saving me.
When I’m in a bad mental place, the first thing I slack on is caring for my body.
Growing up, I watched my mom struggle with an eating disorder. I remember how skinny she got in times of stress. So it became second nature to either stop eating or overeat when things weren’t going great in my life.
In college, when I wasn’t happy, I would just not eat. It was like a punishment to myself for being unhappy.
But after college, when I was unhappy, I would eat bad food for me. It became normal to eat ice cream every night and to somethings just have ice cream for dinner.
But here’s the thing with food. I notice a direct relation to what I eat and my mood.
When I eat terrible food, I notice that I’m more tired and less motivated to work. But when I eat veggies and food that provides me with real energy, I’m happier and more energized throughout the day!
But it wasn’t just changing what I ate. It was also starting a healthy workout routine.
Which was pretty difficult for me to really take seriously…
This is a tough one. But it had an extremely positive impact on my mental health.
The people you surround yourself with is who you become. And I noticed that I would get caught up in the drama or stalking people’s lives on social media just to judge them. It was unhealthy. And it made me extremely unhappy.
So once I realized this was a problem, I first started to unfollow people on social media. Anyone that I honestly didn’t care about and just wanted to follow to creep, I unfollowed them. But it was almost like an addiction.
So after that didn’t prove to be as much of a benefit as I would have like, I removed myself from my personal Instagram account. And since then, I’ve removed all social media apps from my phone other than Instagram.
But it wasn’t just social media. It was also in my personal life.
Anyone that I noticed that was fast to talk about other people, drama, or “woe is me” topics, I decided to step back from.
I wanted to surround myself with people who talk about ideas or events, not people. I wanted there to be less drama and more genuine happiness.
And if you didn’t help to add that to my life, then I took a step back because I knew I needed to if I wanted to be truly happy.
When I was at my lowest low, I would just copy the personality of others. I had no idea who I was or who I was meant to be.
So I copied others so I would fit in and be accepted.
Little did I know that this only helped to worsen my depression.
But discovering who I am and who I’m meant to be wasn’t easy. And honestly, I think it’s something I’m still figuring out every single day.
I started with doing what I loved: photography and reading. Then it went to exercise with yoga and attending regular workout classes. And then it really came to my beliefs and my personality.
And as I discover more and more about me, it’s amazing how much I’m changing and growing! My beliefs have changed. My purpose has changed. And my attitude has changed.
If you’re looking to discover who you are, start by doing what makes you truly happy. That’s the best stepping stone.
I grew up in a Catholic Church, but I have to say that I don’t think I ever really believed in it.
It wasn’t until You Are A Badass that I realized that I do believe in something bigger. I just don’t believe in one person.
All of my life I’ve always thought that everything happens for a reason. And now I know that it’s the Universe that is guiding us through.
Everyone believes in something different. But for me, just knowing that there is something bigger out there that is helping us every step of the way, that gives me a sense of peace.
It also helps to remind me that I don’t have control over much. So what’s the point in sweating the little stuff?
Trust, surrender, and do your best.
That’s all you can do.
Last night I was dancing in the kitchen while making dinner and rolling on the floor singing songs to Fancy while we played.
To say the least, my life looks completely different today than it did 1 year, 2 years, and even 3 years ago.
Today, I’m happy and that’s all the really matters. But it’s taken me a long time to get to this point.
The other day I was running late to yoga and was trying to get out of the car with everything in my hands. And I ended up hitting myself in the head with my yoga mat.
You want to know what I did?
I laughed at myself.
I just chuckled and kept on going.
At that moment, I realized something. It hit me that I had been doing that a lot recently.
When I stub my toe or run into a table, I just giggle and keep moving. When life doesn’t go right, I just go with the flow instead of getting upset. I’m able to laugh it off and not take life too seriously.
Which is one of my 2018 intentions!
RELATED: My Goals & Intentions for 2018
I’m planning on writing another blog post about how to maintain a healthy mental state while growing a blog/biz. So you’ll have to wait for that 🙂
I’ve been in the lows. And I’ve been in the highs.
I’ve had panic attacks that take my breath away. And I’ve had moments of joy that take my breath away as well.
As I’m sitting here on my patio writing this blog post, I’m surrounded by the most beautiful thing.
We were given the sun for light, trees for air, rain for water, and the ground to keep us grounded. Yet we often overlook all of it.
If you just take a moment to step outside and witness all the beauty that’s around you, you might just be amazed by the little wonders that you’ve constantly overlooked.
This life, your life, is beautiful. And it’s 100% worth fighting for.
So don’t stop fighting.
“If you are broken, you don’t have to stay broken” – Selena Gomez
Cathrin (Cath) creates content that encourages bloggers & online entrepreneurs to be themselves, chase their passion, and create their success online. 1 year after started her blog (TheContentBug.com), Cath left her full-time position working in the digital marketing industry to pursue her dreams of being her own boss. In weekly blog posts, sporadic YouTube videos, and constant talking on Instagram stories, Cath hopes to spread her story and be an inspiration to others who desperately want to change their lives.