May is Mental Health Awareness month and I’m glad they don’t call it Mental Illness Awareness. We all have mental health that we need to take care of. It wasn't that long ago that people were called mentally ill if they needed therapy or medication.
Awareness of how many “regular” people are suffering with some type of mental struggle can help break this stigma. It’s important to raise awareness of the ways you can learn to cope and how many therapies there are to try. It can get better.
Something most people don’t know about me is that I have hidden my depression for years. Sometimes it has gotten so dark and deep that I have considered suicide to stop the pain. I’ve cried and cried over this. It’s scary and it wasn’t getting better. I would be OK for a few months and then start feeling helpless and hopeless.
I’ve felt hopeless about my relationships ever getting better, and then really terrible about my shortcomings. I can spiral into thinking only negative things about myself. I’m not good enough, everything’s my fault, I am not a good friend, I was mean to my kids, I can’t get motivated, I am a fake, I’m a crap writer, I am out of shape, I don’t take care of my body, I have no routine, my friends don’t contact me, nobody invites me to anything anymore, my husband doesn’t look at me, I am selfish, etc. Wah, wah, wah. I know, it sounds ridiculous and whiny. But when my mind is in this pattern this is how it goes.
It can get into every area of my life, and it is hard to stop. I have memories where all of these negative things are true, but it’s not good to dwell on them or give them more meaning than: I am human.
Humans have good and bad days. Some days are definitely better than others.
Remembering the Good
Thanks to Facebook, a memory popped up where my daughter thoughtfully put sticky notes in a heart shape on my mirror. She wrote, “You Are…” then each note had a nice description: kind, loving, funny, thoughtful, giving, beautiful, helpful, unselfish,…
Lots of my friends liked the post and commented that “she nailed it,” those things were all true about me! It felt good – and then bad. I instantly went to all the ways that I am NOT those wonderful things. Sure, I can be kind and helpful – but the opposite is also definitely true. I was in a state of feeling like an imposter, down on myself no matter what others said. I am continuing to work on my self-talk.
Talk About it With Someone
I've found talk therapy very helpful to sort out the effects of my childhood abuse. But it's been a while since I've talked to a professional. I'm lucky to have a best friend and sister who I can tell anything and they know me well enough to listen and support me.
I also talk to my adult daughter about a lot of my feelings, and she helps me with her advice. She is so grounded and wise. She told me, “Yes, we all have our bad sides. But that’s just one moment, one hour, one day in your life. You have much more good going on that you should focus on.” I know she’s right. But she loves me unconditionally. Even though she’s seen my bad side more than anyone. Doesn’t she remember what a raging bitch I was in her childhood? I guess she’s able to focus on the times where I was patient and kind, laughing and loving. Thank God.
If you’ve read this far, I hope you feel better about yourself! I share to show that I have struggles but I’m working on them. I am not going to give up! We are all works in progress!
I talked to my doctor about my feelings and I have started taking an anti-depressant. Just taking this action makes me feel much better. It's good to make this decision to take care of myself.
I’m also trying to practice gratitude every day.
Walking around my yard and watering my plants is very calming, and it makes me happy to see their progress.
Hey! I am happy with my own progress! I can find more ways to “water” my life so I can grow and blossom.
How about you? What can you do for yourself that you would enjoy?
Make a list of uplifting activities, treats and friends to call for those times when you’re struggling. The list can remind you that you deserve to have joy, love, and kindness in your life. Because you do!