Hello, dear reader!
I have anxiety.
I have depression.
Some days, my mood is really good. Some days, I have “down” days, or more specifically, “down” moments.
I say down moments because my mood will shift, even if I suddenly feel sad. Some days, I’m worried about stupid stuff, like letting myself fret over the future–which I know will turn out just fine, but my brain will lie to me and tell me that I should worry about something that is yet to come.
I originally didn’t want to post something so personal. But then I thought, I’m not here to be negative. I’m here to start a conversation about mental health–especially how we treat mental health in the United States.
The U.S. has a strange response to mental illness, and mental health, in general. We still, in a broader sense, view talking about these problems as if they are taboo. We seem to view mental health, and the conversation about one’s mental state as something that is separate from the rest of the body.
For example, pretend that you have a cough. Then, through no fault of your own, the cough turns into something more nasty. What do you do? Do you just sit at home, willing yourself to get better? Or do you go to the doctor, or visit a pharmacy? Of course you’d go see someone. It’s problematic to not address your cough that became worse.
Now, pretend you feel sad. Not just sad in the conventional sense, but really, really sad. Sometimes, your thoughts scare you because you shouldn’t be feeling this way. Right? But do you tell someone–a trusted friend, colleague, or your parents? Or do you sit at home, willing yourself to get better? Or do you reach out–to a psychologist, to a doctor, to friends and family?
This is the problem regarding mental health, in my mind. While we have the resources, not everyone takes advantage when it comes to their mental health. Personally, I went un-diagnosed with anxiety and depression for many years. I still did well in school. I still had friends. But every once in a while, I’d find myself feeling sadder than normal. I would think dark thoughts, thoughts that when I was happier, I should have questioned it. Instead, I felt like these moments of sadness and occasional suicidal thoughts would just go away. I thought that I could handle it, that I could somehow control it. But the older I got, my depression got worse. I was also experiencing anxiety, which also went un-diagnosed for many years. I had a good group of girlfriends, but I didn’t hang out with them on the weekends. I would go to birthday parties, but I wasn’t quite sure how to act. I’d bring my knitting, and tended to sit and listen to my friends talk.
I suddenly realized that I found boys cute, but I didn’t date anyone in junior high or high school. I would have crushes on guys, then feel crushed when I saw him dating–or just talking–to a girl. (I realize now how silly I was being–I hadn’t even told the guy I liked even a little bit how I felt towards him. So my upset was rather silly on my part.) I did, however, begin my dating journey in college. While I dated a couple of bad apples, I am currently with an amazing guy who cares and loves me just as deeply as I care about and love him.
Upon discovering that the medication I was taking treated anxiety and depression, I was amazed. I thought, This is the reason I’m feeling happier. This is why I’m feeling more confident in my daily life. I will point out, however, that this didn’t “fix” my depression or anxiety. I still had to work at it. (I’m always working on it. It’s forever a two-way street with mental health.) While not every day was a sunny one at college, I did so much better because of my new medication.
Taking medication, though, is only half of the reason my mood has improved over the years. I’m back to seeing a therapist, and he’s incredible. We’re working on improving my outlook on my mental state, especially how I look at my sudden onset of sadness or anxiety. Before, I would often let my mind run with the sadness, or run with the anxiety. I’m still taking meds for my mood, but I’m not just sitting around waiting for the world to hand me a better outlook on a silver platter. I’m making sure that I get good sleep, that I’m going out and doing things with people, and that I’m exercising more.
As Jessie Close says in a CBS Sunday Morning interview with her sister, Glenn Close: “People behaving strangely or badly is not considered an illness.” She also goes on to say that when she returned from the hospital, she didn’t get flowers, or cards, or the things we usually tend to get if we underwent surgery. I agree with her in that we should definitely get these things when coming from the hospital regarding our mental health. We should also be celebrating any victories we have over whatever it is that we happen to be going through–whether it’s depression, or anxiety, or an eating disorder.
So, in the words of Jessie Close: It’s just an illness, for goodness sake’s.
Stay strong, everyone!
A Very Cool Resource
https://bringchange2mind.org/ ~ an excellent site that was created by Glenn Close and her sister. You not only learn about various mental illnesses, but you can also reach out, too.
- from CBS Sunday Morning. Close sisters interview
- from YouTube, also on bringchange2mind.org
– from YouTube, promoting bringchange2mind.org. Also on bringchange2mind.org