Currently it’s May 1st, almost 2pm. I’ve cried four or five times for no reason, I feel like the Apathy Monster has swallowed me and the poor people in my life are shifting into Do Something Mode to throw me a life line. In some sort of odd happenstance, this is all going down on day one of Mental Health Awareness Month.
May Is Mental Health Awareness Month. So Of Course I Have To Totally Lose It Day One
Though Mental Health has been a focus of May since the mid-1900’s it hasn’t been until the last decade that we’ve begun to normalize just dealing with mental health. Used to, people lied or hid the fact they were getting help for things like depression, anxiety or other mental health issues. These days, while it’s not something everyone is comfortable talking about, many are.
First, let me stress that I am not a professional. I’m not a doctor. I’m just someone with life experiences and a constant struggle for my own mental health. I’m speaking from my experiences. Please, if you need help, see a doctor. Talk to a friend. Phone a family member. Get help.
It’s thought that one in five adults suffer from some sort of metal health issues, be it depression, insomnia, ADHD, bipolar disorder and more. As we age that number grows. Some of it is genetic, some is environmental. But we can always get help. So many people ignore it, try to power through, and put off seeking a doctor for a whole host of reasons until it’s almost too late.
So often we allow ourselves to fall into the swamp of “It’s Just Me”. We let our minds get mired in these lies that we’re unlovable, we’re unlikable, that we’re not good enough. Fill in the blank with something you’ve thought of before. This swamp is a cesspool of all things negative that seek to bring us down, and it’s so easy to get lost in this.
If we leave ourselves untreated we can push our loved ones away, alienate those who care about us and self sabotage our safety nets so that we are truly alone in this battle. It’s my hope that by sharing my own experiences someone might be able to reach out, ask for help, and dig their own way out.
So what’s my deal? What do I live with?
I remember being in high school. Through a series of events I was struggling with an eating disorder and depression. Suicide began to seem like a valid option out of the cycle I couldn’t seem to break. It isn’t an uncommon story. There is noting unique about what I went to. And yet it’s still a valid example of how trapped in my own head I was to the point that I actually thought death was an alternative. (Spoiler, I didn’t succeed in my suicide attempt, I graduated, moved away and got my life on track.)
I found a lot of good in my college psychology classes. Now, mine were religiously bent classes, so there are some medical avaneus traditional therapists and psychologists might use we were deterred from considering, but the important thing is that it got me to study myself. Ask questions. By some odd stroke of luck I wound up best friends with a guy who went on to get his Masters and Doctorate in clinical psychology. I was his personal guinea pig for trying out his classwork. Basically it resulted in hundreds of hours of therapy for free. But it taught me how to look at myself. See the signs. Ask for help.
Fast forward to around 2009. I was alone. I went to work. I came home. I couldn’t keep friends. I was miserable. I ate to comfort myself. And again, I found myself wondering, what was the point of it all? The difference this time is that I knew the markers. I knew what was happening and I made the choice to do something different. I began to write. At first it was for fun, churning out whatever I felt like. it wasn’t for another year until that hobby took off.
Skip to today. It’s pure stress and anxiety eating away at me until all I want to do is crawl back in bed and just… give up.
But I won’t.
Because there’s so much more to life. To this world. I want to live it. I want to get out there. Have adventures. See new things. Which means, after I write this, I’m going to pull out my personal action plan list and get started.
We all deal with our issues and illnesses in a different way, be that medication, tackling a new activity or spending time with people. Here’s a few helpful starting places:
1. See a doctor. If your problem is bigger than you, getting help is a good thing. Maybe you need medication temporarily or to have it adjusted.
2. Enroll in a class, take up an activity, try a new hobby. For some of us, the change of pace can help roll us out of our issues.
3. Talk to someone. Friends are a great place to start, but again, a professional might be of more use.
4. Get outside. Sunshine is good for you.
Let’s make the future better, brighter and more exciting this year.