In the fall of 2017, my depression and anxiety symptoms were at their worst. I had a very public panic attack at work and it had become clear that I could no longer continue with my career until I got my mental health in order. My mental illnesses, it seemed, had won and taken everything away from me. I left work defeated. I felt no control over my life anymore and saw no reason to keep going at all.
The funny thing about having hit rock bottom emotionally is that it also comes with a freeing sense of having nothing to lose. Especially if you have a silly amount of optimism that tells you things can only become better when compared to how low you feel about your existence.
In previous months, I had sought to learn more about my condition. Was I alone? Did it feel like this for other people? Were there solutions that could serve as intermediaries as I scrambled to get an appointment with my therapist again? What about my medication, was needing it, normal?
What I found online was mostly people sharing their stories and personal experience, sometimes as facts. And then I found stories from professionals, some of which were blind to what it was actually like to live with these conditions.
With no job and a feeling that this was my hope, I decided I would try to bridge that gap. I had a background in project management, research, and science editing that was not being utilized for anything else at the moment. Along with those, I had ten years of experience having been diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. I decided I would share my experience, but also try to answer the “why” of it all in a researched manner, giving researched explanations to the facts and ideas I was putting out into the world.
After years and years of telling myself I wasn’t good enough to make anything, I had found a friend who was willing to help me edit and did so kindly. So, I started a blog, which would house good sources in addition to my personal story. But that didn’t seem like enough. I wanted to communicate with people and have open discussions around these difficult topics as I was tired of pretending I was ok, when I knew others were not either. Tired of keeping to myself so as not to scare anyone and make it seem like I am just seeking attention.
YouTube didn’t seem to be the best place to be able to do so. But a live stream? A live stream would be exactly the space to offer information and immediately receive feedback. Offering an open forum to those like me who were often silent.
It started with a few of my “in real life” friends offering to come on and share their stories of living with certain conditions until eventually, I was able to interview professionals in the field as well. When I wasn’t doing that, I was doing research and presenting what I found for live discussions.
And people came to watch. Not right away (which is great because I had no idea what I was doing), but they did come and they were just as excited as I was to have a space to be themselves. Furthermore, they were more than willing to be there for others who had experienced things similar to them.
I frequently say that Mxiety is an idea of hope, which is bigger than the person who started it or any one person who supports it. It’s a space built on education and respectful discourse no matter the disagreement.
Never in my wildest dreams, when I sat sobbing three years ago on the floor of my bathroom, wishing I could die, did I ever realize that I could incubate a whole community. When I was driving and talking myself into not ending my life, I could not fathom the number of people who had done exactly the same and were looking for someone to tell them they are not alone.
I have now returned to a full-time job, as I continue to write, host a show, and nurture a community. I take medication and am not ashamed because it saved my life. I gather information as I learn more about myself and share that with others as well. I have found my purpose–to make the world a safer place for those with mental illnesses. It’s ambitious, but it’s a purpose that is worthy of the cause.
Learn more about Marie, her blog, live streams and more via mxiety.com.