HALEY

“The thing is…I just…I just don’t know if I want to be dating someone who takes anti-depressants.”

His eyes looked everywhere but mine as he scooted as far away from me on the couch as he possibly could. His hands were clenched in his lap, his shoulders scrunched.

He was practically trembling.

Right in front of my eyes he transformed from a cocky college senior into a little boy terrified of the monster under his bed.

Was I that monster?

“I mean, if my girlfriend has to take pills in order to be happy…people are going to assume that I can’t make her happy on my own, so it makes me look pretty bad…don’t you get it?”

I am the monster, I realized as I could physically feel the insecurity and self-doubt burning within me.

Looking back I truly can’t believe I spent another second with a person who judged me for my mental health struggles (ironically a person who was riddled with mental health struggles himself). At the time, I was just too damn afraid to be alone. And that’s okay. Unfortunately, it happens to the best of us. I try not to live in regret and aim to always remind myself that every asshole brought me closer and closer to finding the incredible man I am madly in love with today. More importantly, each asshole brought me closer and closer to becoming the kick-ass, confident human I am now.

I know now that I am not the monster hiding under that pathetic little boy’s bed.

Anyone who struggles with mental health issues (which, hate to break it to you, is all of us to some extent) is not the monster. The mental health issue itself is the monster.

I can’t control the fact that for some reason I am more prone to depression and anxiety than other people, but I can control how I alleviate my situation through my various coping skills. I have many coping skills — writing, working out, cleaning, etc. — and one of my coping skills just so happens to be taking an anti-depressant every morning.

There is nothing wrong with being on anti-depressants.

It’s just another coping skill.

So how do you tell your significant other about your mental health struggles?

In any way that feels right for you.

To me, taking care of my mental health is the same as taking care of any other part of my body.

I do the same thing every morning. I wake up, I take a shower, I brush my teeth, I put in my contacts, and I take my anti-depressant.

When I first meet someone, I don’t start off by saying, “Hey, what’s up, I brush my teeth every morning,” so why do I have to even tell them about the fact that I take an anti-depressant? It’s just another part of my routine.

With that being said, though, if it’s the right person you’ll most likely want to share this significant aspect of your life with him/her, and the right person will love and accept you for who you are — emotions and all. You don’t have to make it this grand ordeal. Like I said, you’re not going to sit someone down on the first or second date and explain in detail the way in which you brush your teeth every morning, so why do you need to make taking care of your brain health such a huge deal? We all have mental health struggles. It’s time people realized that it’s a normal part of life. Be honest about who you are and where you are in life with the people who matter most to you. The ones who truly love you will never see you as the monster and instead will work with you everyday to cope with the monster that is your own personal mental health struggle. Come out from under the bed. You are not the monster. You are an incredibly powerful force, and with the right amount of love and acceptance, you will finally experience all the beauty this world has to offer.

Read more work from Haley here.

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