Brookelyn Eubank graduated from the Indiana University School of Education in 2016 and was ranked as one of the top students in her teaching cohort. She currently lives in Colorado with her husband, Nathan, and works as a guest teacher, fitness coach, and freelance photographer. Like many young adults, Brookelyn also struggles with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and occasionally depression. Even though she’s had challenges with her mental health, her support system has helped her control them and allowed her to flourish in her life. Brookelyn wanted to share her story of struggle with others to let them know they’re not alone and how she copes with her challenging days.
“It all works out in the end. If it’s not working out, it’s not the end.”
It’s something my husband tells me all the time; especially, when life gets hard. Life has been hard lately, and when life gets hard, my anxiety and depression are on high alert.
Waking up and not having the motivation or desire to even move.
Waking up worried about something you said 5 years ago.
Waking up and crying for absolutely no reason. You can’t explain it and you can’t stop it.
Waking up and fearing what everyone has said in your absence the day before.
Waking up worried about the phone calls you might have to make because you’ll break out in hives and have a shaky voice when you do.
Waking up worried you aren’t enough.
Going through the day constantly worried about things you’ve done and said.
Going through the day fighting off feelings of panic, fear, worry, sadness, or even numbness.
Going through the day apologizing. Going through the day obsessed with something you know is nothing.
Going through the day unable to let go of a thought until you check, recheck, and recheck again that whatever it is, is okay.
Going through the day peeling and picking skin from your body, face, lips, or nails.
Cleaning your house before going to bed because your brain says you have to “or else”.
Going to bed and not being able to fall asleep for hours because of that thought you thought you’d pushed aside but it’s back and more intense than ever.
Going to bed worried that bad things are going to happen and not being able to stay asleep when you fall asleep because that worry creates intense panic.
Going to bed and telling yourself you weren’t good enough today, and when you wake up, it happens again.
When you struggle with anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, and/or depression, things are hard. When you are struggling with any mental illness life can almost seem unbearable.
You feel like you aren’t in control. You can’t explain why you have panic attacks going to an over crowded grocery store. You can’t tell someone you worried yourself until you were sick about death again. You can’t even help anyone understand that it’s beyond your control in the first place.
You feel lonely. You feel ashamed. You feel broken.
But YOU are not broken. YOU should not be ashamed. And you certainly should not hide.
When I was younger, I wanted to hide my struggle. Over the years I’ve grown all too good at putting on a smile and overcompensating my insecurities and fear with my personality and ability to smile through it.
I thought I was supposed to look like I had it all together. I thought it meant I didn’t have enough faith, or I was weak or too messed up to fix.
At 3 and 4 years old, I worried about death until I would vomit. I performed rituals to prevent bad things and death from happening. Obsessive hand washing and tooth brushing ensued when we learned about germs at school. By 10, I would cry and gave myself ulcers, unable to sleep at night just worrying. And at 13, I hit a real low.
I remember my mom asking if I needed to talk to someone. I said no. But I remember spending hours in the counseling office at school anyway. I remember wondering if I would ever be okay.
But I was lucky. After a few intense months, that depression lessened. I was blessed with an amazing family and so much support. Those who didn’t know me well, truly didn’t even know how hard I fought to get back.
I still have incredible support. I know I’m one of very few to have the support they need to get through. That’s always something that’s wrecked me. I was fortunate to have a mom who studied psychology and always worked with me to find ways to manage and cope. I had counselors who truly wanted to help me and understand my struggles. I have a husband who reaches into the depths of my depression to pull me back.
But others aren’t so lucky.
So, I started blogging to be honest. I started coaching to be honest. I started teaching to be honest. And I do all three of these things to passionately love and care for people. Because that’s what they need. That’s what I needed.
It’s been years since I was at my lowest point but there are still low points. There are still bad days. There is still a struggle.
I still have days where I wonder why I bother getting out of bed. Where I wonder how I’ll make it through. Where I obsess until I’m sick. Where I panic over little things. Where I feel like a mess.
But years ago, I couldn’t imagine the life I have now. I couldn’t see it.
I’m so grateful to have found things that worked to get me through. Without those passions and those people, there’s no telling what my life might be.
So, throw yourself into your passions. When I’m in the grips of depression, you’ll find me working out, reading, doing yoga, baking, or cleaning.
Depression tells you to give up those things and people you love but I’ve learned that’s how depression wins. Keep doing those things you love!
The one thing I wish I could tell younger me though, is that talking about it is how it gets better. I had to stop hiding.
On the days I want most to shut the world out, I reach out to one of my support people and even though it’s the last thing I want to do, it’s the best shot I have at coming back.
There is absolutely nothing that replaces a good support system. Whoever it is, find someone you can confide in. Someone who knows how to bring you back to yourself when you’re completely drifting away.
Don’t be ashamed. Don’t be afraid. Don’t refuse help.
Embrace the people in your life who lift you up. If you can’t find someone, call whatever resources you can. Believe me when I say telling someone , anyone, about your struggles before you reach your breaking point, will change, and maybe even save, your life.
YOU are enough. You are wanted and loved. Find your thing. Find your tribe. And know, it gets better.
Don’t let anyone tell you different. Not even yourself.