May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is a month dedicated to educating the public on mental illness, how it affects people and what resources are out there for people to find help. There are many conditions that fall under mental health: grief, obsessive compulsion, phobias, and stress. 1 out of 5 people suffer with some sort of mental health disorder. It could be increasing with the ongoing events in the world.
For me, I struggle with depression. I’ve had depression symptoms since I was 17 but was never actually clinically diagnosed and medicated until 24. Now, you could be thinking, what is so depressing about being a 17-year-old, or what is so bad in your early 20’s that you need medicine? Depression looks different in each person. For some, it’s ongoing grief, childhood trauma or substance abuse. For me, it’s the feeling of not being good enough- not good enough grades to go to the graduate school of my dreams, not good enough Christian, not good enough girlfriend, not good enough daughter. It is the never-ending cycle of not pleasing everyone, negative self-talk or letting down strangers.
Ever since I started medicine, all my symptoms have calmed down. It is easier to go to work, go to the gym, hang out with friends, go to church. There would be a day here or there where I needed to sleep in and take an easy mental health day for myself. But lately, I’ve realized a change in my life seasons. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel like rainbows and glitter and sunshine; it feels like dark, gloomy days, going to bed at 7:30 pm and eating junk food for every meal. Even though this has been going on for the past few months, it takes me holding back tears while grocery shopping to realize I’m holding on to a lot of baggage.
Yesterday, I spoke with Lynn, with a few tears, in the kitchen. I’m not for changing my medication because I know this is just a season, so I went to her for some self-help advice. The number one piece of advice she could give, which I agree with 100%, is be open to talking about it. Even if it is one person, we thrive off relationships and building community. I spoke with my boyfriend last night about all of this. We’ve decided to go on this journey together to support one another and work on being our best self-possible. I’ll walk you through our discussion:
- Pinpoint where your issues are– For me, I realized I can’t get a “hold” on my life: preparations for going back to school, my faith, my appearance, my relationships, my self talk.
- We brainstormed ideas– We plan on hashing out all the details tonight for each category: create a checklist of school tasks, commit to reading more, diet and exercise/meditation, engage in more conversations, don’t focus on myself.
- Be open– To strengthen myself, I can’t bottle up any emotions. I need to be willing to express myself.
- Give YOURSELF Grace– We are quick to give others grace but rarely give ourselves that grace. Life is hard. The struggle with depression is real and some days will be more difficult than others.
So, over the next couple of months, I’ll pop in with life updates. I’ll describe my journey in hopes of being able to help someone. Just from talking with friends, I’ve opened the door to discussions about mental health. I hope this piece will encourage someone to reach out for help or start on their self-help journey. Here at Women’s Health Associates, we are a kind and loving group of women. We create a safe place for women to bring us any problem and we try to point her in the right direction. I’m am so grateful for this group.