I am Emily Craig—a writer, poet, and columnist from Alabama, USA. I deal with severe anxiety and mild depression both from different traumas in the past seven years. Over the last year, I have embraced the fact that I have anxiety and recently have mild symptoms of depression. This year, I wasn’t really shocked when an anxiety test resulted in confirming my symptoms of severe anxiety. The results clarified the importance of communicating and being honest about my struggles. I have always been an emotional person but this diagnosis through a test in therapy helped me tremendously. I decided to return to therapy after five months. My goal is to work on my fear of driving in the rain due to a past car wreck. I also have high hopes to resolve the anger and mild depression stemming from my sexual abuse trauma last year.
By embracing my anxiety and depression I decided to stop avoiding my struggles, which led me to writing about mental health. I wanted to help others fight their battles through my writing because I believe words are powerful and can make a difference in someone’s day. I have had a passion for writing since I was ten, but it wasn’t until last year that I got really serious about writing about anxiety. In September 2019, I published my poetry collection, “Anxiety Doesn’t Own Me,” which was the poem that gave me the courage to deal with my struggles. I had wanted to write anxiety poems for a while because I went through therapy from February to August 2019, but I was having writer’s block. Suddenly following my conclusion to my first round of therapy, I started really writing again and my new collection was born. My hope is to help others with my personal experiences and emotions by being real and honest through my writing projects. I don’t want to ever sugar coat my struggles because life is tough and we all need ways to recharge our batteries.
Through words, I can share my experiences and emotions and in turn, help my readers with their healing process. I believe in strong connections with myself and others. I think I had to really connect with my inner self to be able to form strong connections with those around me. I mean that I had to understand what I was going through at least to a point to be able to connect to someone else going through it. All our struggles are different, but they have the same foundation—negative thoughts constantly rolling around in our heads. I also believe that learning from your pain is better than bottling your fears and struggles up until you explode. We tend to hide behind our pain and give excuses as to why we aren’t doing anything about how we are feeling in our heads. It isn’t healthy to do that to ourselves. Our mental health deserves to be taken care of as if it were a person. I don’t want to be a prisoner to my past any longer. In this column, I will stand up for everyone that feels silenced or alone—I understand.
I never thought in a million years, I would be writing so openly about mental health because we seem to gloss those conversations over. Tough topics are the type we boil mental health conversations down to which needs to change now. The tough talks get us to open up in a safe environment and help us cope with our daily battles. More times than not we push our struggles to the back burner and call it good when we are most certainly not good. We tend to sweep our struggles under the rug, hide behind fake smiles, and act like our lives are picture-perfect. We all see how others portray their lives on social media—the perfect angle, catchy tweets, and funny memes—when in reality we are sad and hiding behind a mask. I’m here to tell you they aren’t picture-perfect social media days. You aren’t alone in your struggles. You know, those voices in your head that scream, wail, and bother you constantly? You aren’t the only person experiencing those little thoughts rolling around in your head that cause evil and damaging thoughts.
Silencing those voices in our heads is a daily battle, but one we can fight together. I won’t lie to you, I have many bad mental health days and sometimes I feel unsure how to conquer them. You are probably wondering how I find ways to deal with those negative moments and conquering them one battle at a time. The task is actually simple and things I do every day. We all listen to music at least some time during our day whether it is during our commute to work, school, or errands, so why not add that to your mental health boost list? I do. I have over a handful of Spotify playlists to choose from with a variety of different songs. My advice is to create a playlist specifically for your bad days, so you can instantly click and start singing along. A mini jam session wherever you are is never a bad idea especially concerning your mental health. That is one of the many ways you can do everyday tasks to boost your mood. I will be here to guide you through the wilderness because I am walking through as well.
By writing this column, I want to shed light on those voices screaming in our heads. The ones that make us feel worthless, useless, and invisible. Let me tell you straight–you are loved, seen, heard, and important. Those voices are wrong. I’m going to tell you how to fight them, one column at a time. Think of this space as a place of hope in the dark time you may be going through right now. A place you can come to boost your energy and lift your spirits. A piece of writing directly to you and your struggles. Because I’ve been there, I’m still there, and I want to help you conquer the voices in your head that are telling you that you aren’t good enough or worth much to anyone. I want to show you how you can turn your negative thoughts to positive outlooks. If I am being honest, negative thoughts constantly loom in the back of my mind, but I have ways to push them aside and remind myself of the good. There is good that lies within you, sometimes you just have to dig a little deeper.