My Journey To Mental Health - Part 1
Originally Published on Medium - October 4, 2018
I have written a few pieces about my mental health before, and I have also shared some videos talking about it. I have decided I want to capture my journey as part of a wider conversation that needs to happen. I will post about it here, and hope that you follow along.
I saw a psychiatrist for the first time this week, and they recommended I do a 3 week long program through a hospital to get a proper assessment of my situation. It is a bit concerning, but also feels like I am slowly lifting a weight off of my shoulders. I have basically been struggling alone for 2 or so years (if not my whole life) and will finally be moving towards getting help. I am hoping to be able to share that experience with you, as I do not know anyone who has gone through a mental health program like that, and assume many of you do not either, which is part of the problem. There is still such a huge stigma around it, which is what I am here to start fixing. But first, some things I want to address, all in the realm of how people still do not understand nor take mental health seriously.
1. I feel that way sometimes too, maybe I have that problem!
a. This is often the first response I get when I talk about my struggle with my mental health. Yes, we all sometimes feel sad. Yes, we all sometimes have excess energy or anxiety. But the key to this is that it is the severity, and frequency with which you feel those things. We all have a sore back sometimes, that does not mean some people have broken spines.
2. It is all in your head, just take control of it
a. Yes, a lot of mental health issues are in your head, but that does not mean that they are easy to fix. These are often things linked back to early childhood, that can take years if not longer of work to change your thinking habits and processes. Just knowing that it is a problem in my head does not make it easier to deal with or change
3. You have so much to be grateful for, just focus on that
a. Related to other points, I know I have a very blessed life. I know that there are an infinite amount of things to be grateful for, but it does not help. Getting mad at myself for not appreciating what I have only makes it worse.
4. Why don’t you just try to be more positive. If you are more positive, then you’ll be less depressed.
a. This is the toughest one. I was recently with a friend and they blamed me for being a downer at an event I went to, and I wanted to slap them in the face. I cannot help when I am in really bad moods. Forcing myself to try to get out of them actually makes them worse. The ONLY way to get through them is to accept that they exist, that they are there, and to wait them out. And the key thing that is needed is to invest in your social circles. To trust that your friends and family love you enough that you can be with them even when you’re in a bad mood, and that it is okay to be in a bad mood.
5. Just laugh it off
a. A friend of mine made a joke while I was depressed, and I laughed. So clearly I just need more humor in my life. This is not the case. Whereas the standard for most people is a steady-state of happiness or contentment (I hope); something bad might happen, and you feel sad for a little bit, but then revert back to happiness. For someone in a depression it is the exact opposite. You walk around sad, and even if something incredible happens, it is a very fleeting happiness that soon dissipates. Laughing does not help the underlying problem.
6. You are concerning me
a. I understand that I have posted things that concern some people. Talking about suicide is not easy. But I cannot be worried about your wellbeing right now. I need to focus on my own. I know I am okay to talk about this, because I am far, far better than I was last summer. People are now concerned because they know about it, but I had much tougher things to deal with in the past. If you do not like what I post, and cannot handle the stress of it, please just do not read it. This serves as an outlet for me that is quite helpful, and also I hope to share my pain with others, and allow them to share theirs with me.
The thing that is honestly most important for dealing with my mental health is for me to be selfish. I need to give myself what I need right now. So I am trying to do that. I am honestly quite happy and hopeful underneath the moods that can hit me; I know that and it keeps me going. I have seen the massive progress I have made in the past 2 years, and the huge contrast between who I am now and who I was for the past 20 years. The only difference is I am no longer struggling alone. The only difference is you now know about it.
And it will continue that way. Because many of my closest friends have actually made it worse recently. Yes I got a lot of support online from people, but some of the people I actually talked to directly about it, that it also impacts, have made it worse. Because they don’t get it. They blame me, they think it’s my fault, and they just don’t know what to do or how to handle it. And that is why I share. Because I am strong enough to face this alone, but I am making it that I don’t have to. But many other people are not, many people need to have the support of their friends and family, which is hard to come by when people just do not understand.
And so I move forward. I am having a follow up with my family doctor on the weekend, who will submit a referral to the 3 week program at the hospital. I am scared, but I am also thrilled. I need help, and I believe I have for many years. I finally feel like I am being heard and that I can get the help I need to be effective and happy. I hope to be able to share my experiences honestly with you in the coming weeks, and into the future. This was probably a bit ramble-y, but only through practice can I become a better writer. Thanks in advance for all of the support