2015 Mental Health Awareness Month Speech

I would first like to begin by giving a trigger warning. I will be talking about mental health and depression and I realize that this may be triggering for some people. If that is the case, I would advise you to leave for the duration of my speech. Also, please note that the pastors and I will be available to talk about this subject after church (event).

Before I get started, I would like for all of you to imagine your worst day ever. Your alarm didn’t go off, so you barely have time to get ready. You struggle to get the kids ready for school. Your car won’t start and you’re late to work. At work, or if you’re in school maybe someone starts digging at you about a project, they’re making fun of you or yelling at you. You start thinking about all of the things you have to do, at work, at home and everything in-between. Do you remember how that felt? (Ask for opinions from audience.)You felt anger, sad, frustrated, lost, lonely, down, stressed, overwhelmed.  That is essentially how someone suffering from depression feels on a normal day.

How would I know? My name is Talia Malon and I know that I seem like your normal, average 20-something year old. I look healthy, however I am clinically diagnosed with depression and anxiety. I also have avoidant personality disorder tendencies. I have been in therapy for over 4 years and I was only recently discharged from an outpatient treatment program for mental health.  I’m here to talk to you about depression because May is Mental Health Awareness month (mental awareness is important) and I want you to understand mental illnesses. I want you to understand that I wake up fighting a battle everyday whether I am at work, at home or out with friends. Each day may be a battle where I am under siege for every waking hour but I am determined to win this war, because there is only one other alternative.

Depression is defined by the Mayo Clinic as, “a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest…. It affects how you feel, think and believe and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.” While this definition works for the health institutions around the world, I find that there is an easier and more forthright definition. “Mental illnesses are diseases. Depression is a disease.” It is a disease of the mind and it’s not easy to physically see unlike cancer but nonetheless, it is a disease. “This disease affects approximately one in four adults” (NAMI). You can die from it. People have died from depression. The most recently notable, would be Robin Williams. The coroner’s report may say suicide, but honestly he died from depression. “Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US and more than 90% of those who die by suicide had a mental disorder” (NAMI).

Trying to explain depression is like trying to teach physics to preschoolers; it’s virtually impossible because depression affects everyone differently which makes it so hard to describe. It’s hard to explain the numbness you feel, the uncaring, sadness, frustration, loneliness, worthlessness, etc. But what I can tell you is that depression lies. It’s like a bully, but it is able to reach into the darkest places of your mind and use it against you. .It magnifies every negative thought I’ve ever had about myself.  And it does so continuously. I won’t just ‘get better’ one day. It’s a continuous struggle between me and my brain. My therapist at Linden Oaks calls it a committee. This committee is my depression. It’s sitting in the back of my mind constantly, so I have to be careful because I know that there is something self destructive in me. Martha Manning, clinical psychologist and writer says, “Depression is such a cruel punishment. There are no fevers, no rashes, no blood tests to send people scurrying in concern, just the slow erosion of self, as insidious as cancer. And like cancer, it is essentially a solitary experience; a room in hell with only your name on the door.”

Mental illnesses are also invisible diseases. You can’t tell by looking at someone whether they have these diseases or not. Often times, we make split second decisions about a person without speaking a word to them, without knowing them at all. We don’t know if they are suffering from bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression or any other illnesses or issues, but we have already judged them based on their looks, their behaviors and their actions. I feel that this is an issue, because honestly, people with mental illnesses can’t help the way they think. As an individual with depression, there is something chemically wrong in my brain that affects my thinking and I cannot fix that on my own. As Trisha Goddard, a British actress and TV personality said, “Cancer is not the worst thing I’ve faced – that was depression. With depression, nobody brings you flowers, and the doctors can’t operate and tell you, you’ll be free of the disease within weeks.” (and she would know, she has suffered from both)

So what can you do? You can be part of a support group for someone with mental illness. You can help them and be there for them. Ask them how they are doing and really mean it. Sometimes there is nothing that will make them feel better. Sometimes there are only  things that will make it worse. You can not ‘fix’ them or cure them of their mental illness anymore than you can cure a person of leukemia. I feel that it is best understood in the words of one of my supporters. “I support Sara fully, no matter what. Even though I have feelings similar to hers, I still have trouble remembering that her thoughts of worst case scenario are not by choice.  I get frustrated talking with her. I get angry sometimes and just want to explode. But I take a moment to remember how I’ve felt and how she must feel; a million times worse. I take solace in knowing that I can be there for her. No matter what. If you know someone with depression, take the time to educate yourself. Listen to them, no matter how frustrating it can be, and give them a shoulder to cry on.  Don’t bother asking them what’s wrong because they probably don’t know. Just let them talk. Be their supporter. You could be the only motivation they have to do anything.”

Coming here to speak to you today is the first small step towards my ultimate goal.  These are the first steps as I try to start a non-profit organization for education, awareness and tolerance on mental illnesses.  I have named this foundation ADAPT; Advocates for Depression Awareness, Progress and Tolerance. I felt that this name was fitting because when you make the decision to be the supporter of somebody suffering from a mental illness, you have to adapt. Depressives also have to adapt as they try to cope with their illness. Both sides have to adapt their viewpoint and adapt how they interact with others.  Educating yourself and becoming an active supporter of someone with a mental illness may save a life.

In closing, I would also like to encourage you to take care of your mental health. It is just as important as your physical health and it can be anything from taking a break from life and going for a walk outside to talking out a troubling situation with a friend to getting therapy for even a couple of sessions. I encourage those with depression to keep holding on. You are not alone and this may be the hardest fight of your life, but it is also one of the most important. We are here for you. Please visit my blog for more information on depression, how you can help and how you can find help. Thank you.

 

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My Story Part 8

This is a continuation, part 8, of my daily journal of life after outpatient treatment for depression, and anxiety. Please click for Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

Part 8, Day 1:

I’ve been so tired lately. I have a feeling this job is starting to take its toll on me. Working overnights and sleeping during the day is harder than I thought it would be. My new puppy has been driving me crazy lately. She won’t listen to me at all! It’s very frustrating and on top of being tired all of the time my patience is at an all time low. I need a break.

Day 6:

I’m nervous about this upcoming vacation/wedding. Things are tense with this side of the family, so it could be an interesting trip. The BF and I are killing two birds with one stone by going camping instead of staying at the hotel. It gives us a little  more room, more privacy, and this way I get to bring the new puppy with. Hopefully there is no bloodshed at the wedding and everyone is on their best behavior

Day 12:

The wedding/camping trip went very well. My cousin (the one who got married) and I had an interesting heart-to-heart and he told me that he only wants me to be happy. Of course, he and I were more than a little drunk when this occurred. I spent most of the reception getting drunk but had a lot of fun. I caught the bouquet, but I’m definitely not the next person getting married. That would be my other cousin. Unfortunately, I can’t go to his wedding because I have to work. I’ll be working 10 days in a row now because of this vacation and my next trip. This could be interesting.

Day 18:

I’m heading to my grandparents’ house this week. They live on a lake and I love it up there. It is so peaceful. Plus, being born a Pisces, I love the water. It’ll be fun spending the ‘weekend’ during the work week with my boyfriend in a place that I love. I am a little worried because sometimes I get cornered and have to discuss (or receive someone’s opinion) about a topic I would rather not talk about, but all in all it should be nice. When we get back, I’m going to help my best friend with his fundraiser and meet his new girlfriend. I’m a little worried about that, but then again, I worry a lot anyway.

Day 23:

The trip was amazing although the weather did not cooperate. We (the BF and I), ended up going to a couple of wineries because the weather was bad. This brings our total to 15 wineries in 3 months!! Good thing it’s something we like to do! We had nicer weather on the last full day before we left. We spent the day on the beach. My puppy wasn’t very happy because I wouldn’t let her out of her crate, but she had just gotten spayed and I didn’t want to risk infection. When we go up in 2 weeks, I’ll let her out and see what she does in the water. I have a feeling she’ll love it as much as I do!

The fundraiser was an interesting day. He ended up not needing my help which made me feel useless and unwanted. Plus, it seemed like I was ignored by everyone there like I was the plague. I felt like a social pariah. I met his new girlfriend and she seems nice, but I don’t think she likes me very much. Of course my BF says ‘you only said two words to her!’ but some things you can just feel. I hope this doesn’t cause problems between me and my best friend!

Please stay tuned for Part 8. Here are the links for Part 1Part 2Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, and Part 7.

My Story: Part 6

This is a continuation, part 6, of my daily journal of life after outpatient treatment for depression, and anxiety. Please click for Week 1Week 2Week 3, Week 4 and Week 5.

Part 6, Day 1:

I feel like my life is a rollercoaster. Somedays I feel good and other days, the IBSC is out in full force. I hate the IBSC so much. It messes with my mind. It makes me think things that aren’t ‘normal’. It makes me hate myself and my life. It makes me feel unwanted, unimportant, and unloved. The IBSC whispers in my ear telling me that I’m not a priority and making me wonder why anyone would  want me around. And unfortunately, my life experience agrees with the IBSC. Experience has taught me that most people don’t want to be friends with me; that for some reason, I fade into the background of their lives and am forgotten.

My BFF just found himself a girlfriend, and while I’m thrilled for him, I’m also scared for me. Am I about to lose my best friend? Because that is what experience has taught me will happen. I get dropped like a hot potato when something or someone else comes along. What happens if she doesn’t want him to be friends with me? And I know that this might not even be an issue, but my mind is constantly thinking the ‘what ifs’ of every situation. I’m just scared that I’m going to lose my best friend and then I’ll only have one person left. I’m so lonely lately.

Day 7:

I’ve been in a funk lately. Yesterday was a bad day. After my boyfriend left, I just sat on the couch and cried. I was so lonely and alone. Getting on Facebook and seeing everyone else having fun doesn’t help and I realized that I don’t have anything fun to post on Facebook.

I’m so frustrated with my life. I have 2 friends who I rarely get to see. I never have any fun and that’s all that I want. I want to have fun hanging out with my friends. Instead, I get to watch everyone else have fun, while I’m alone.

When I first started working nights, it was a huge change but now I’m grateful for it because my schedule is backwards. I’m usually asleep when everyone is out having fun so I don’t feel so alone, but now that I’ve adjusted, that feeling is starting to return. Forgotten, lonely, worthless.

I feel like I’m not worth people’s time or attention. I feel like there’s something wrong with me and that’s why I don’t have friends. I wish there was something wrong with me because then I could fix it and everything would get better.

Maybe the medication isn’t working anymore.

Day 11:

I’m excited and nervous because I’m going on vacation. Why would I be nervous about vacation? It’s the first time that I’m going on vacation having planned and paid for it myself. It’s actually my BF’s birthday present and I hope he enjoys it, I’m just nervous because it’s my first time saving up money and spending it on something that could be considered  frivolous. But I’m also excited to go on vacation with my BF. I could really use a break after the move and a weekend/weekday getaway (called such because we’re actually going during the week), will be perfect. Hopefully I will relax!

On the depression front, I’m still struggling. It’s better when I’m busy and don’t have as much time to think, which will make relaxing interesting. I think I’m going to see my doctor when I get back. I’m not sure if I need a higher dose of the medication or if something else could be the problem. Guess I should probably figure that out!!

Please stay tuned for Week 7. Here are the links for Week 1Week 2Week 3 and Week 4 and Week 5.

My Story: After Outpatient Treatment Part 5

This is a continuation, part 5, of my daily journal of life after outpatient treatment for depression, anxiety and avoidant personality disorder. Please click for Week 1Week 2Week 3 and Week 4.

Part 5, Day 1:

I’m starting to get really frustrated with this apartment search. I think being on medication has helped because I’m not as low as I could be, but I’m still not feeling very good. Half of the landlords won’t answer their phones or call me back and the other half don’t accept animals. I know I could submit my application for my ESA, but I really don’t want to have to fight my landlord for my rights as a tenant. This whole thing situation is a giant headache. Lately, all I want to do is sleep so I don’t have to face the problems that are in my life right now.

Day 3:

I found an apartment today. It happened totally out of the blue. I got a message from someone on facebook, I went and looked at it with my bf and ended up accepting it an hour later! My bf, the eternal optimist, is really excited about helping me move and I’m surprised he has refrained from saying “I told you so”. He was very optimistic that I would find a place before I had to move. I guess he was right. They even accept pets with an extra deposit. I’m actually starting to get excited. Initially I was just worried and nervous, but now, I’m honestly excited about starting over in a new apartment. Hopefully this is the next step toward happiness for me.

[Update 6/27] We actually talked about his lack of saying “I told you so”. He was amused that I had written about it in my journal entry.

Day 17:

It’s been awhile since I’ve written a journal entry. I’ve been very busy with packing, moving and cleaning. Now starts the unpacking portion of my move. I’m a little overwhelmed by all of the things I have, but a part of me doesn’t know how to downgrade. I’m a little bit of a packrat so it can take quite a bit for me to get rid of something. I’m actually very proud of myself, I’ve already gotten rid of two giant boxes and a couple pieces of furniture. It’s a good start, and hopefully I can get rid of more as I unpack.

I’ve been feeling better now that I’m back on the medication, unfortunately I haven’t been able to sleep very well lately and that is starting to take it’s toll. I’m a little more irritable and easily upset. It’s frustrating because I know that if I could get more sleep, I’d be feeling a lot better. Hopefully sleep will get better as I unpack and have less stress regarding the move. 

Please stay tuned for Week 6. Here are the links for Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4.

My Story: After Outpatient Treatment Part 4

Week 4, Day 1

I’ve been feeling really down lately. I’m not sure if that’s because I’m off of the medication or if there is something else that is bothering me lately. I can definitely say that lack of sleep is not helping the situation. But I wanted to write today to share some good news!!

I gave my second speech today, again at another local church and it went very well. I had an even higher turnout than I did for my first speech and I got a lot of good questions from my audience. I’ve been considering starting a ‘group therapy’ class where it’s one part moral support and one part teaching about coping skills. I brought this idea up to a couple of people from my audience after the talk and they were highly interested. The pastor even suggested that I keep their church in mind for a location if I need one.

I’m getting such a good response from people about mental illnesses and mental health awareness. It makes me very excited for the future of my nonprofit and the future of our world. The stigmas will always exist, but if I can lessen people’s beliefs in them and teach people that mental illness is nothing to be afraid of, maybe I can help make this world a better place!!

Day 3

I’m definitely going to be talking to my therapist and my doctor about possibly going back on medication. Something was obviously working because I’ve been down ever since I went off of my medications. I don’t like feeling this way and nothing that I’m doing mentally seems to be working. I hate the idea that I need to rely on medication to feel better, but I guess it’s better than feeling the way I have been feeling lately.

I guess we just need to figure out if I can take one of the medications or if it was the combination that was working for me. This can be so frustrating but if I can find out which one works, I’ll hopefully feel better.

Day 6

Well, I’m back on medication and it’s a good thing because I just found out that my landlords are refusing to renew my lease. I have 30 days to find a new apartment and move. I’m already starting to freak out. This means finding a new apartment and moving all in less than a month. I’m hoping I can find an apartment that accepts pets, that way I don’t have to fight my landlord regarding my emotional support animal or ESA. I have a feeling this is why I’m not getting my lease renewed, because my current landlords don’t want an animal in the building. They’re using some other excuse however, because it would be illegal for them to deny my request….

Hopefully finding a new apartment won’t be too much of a struggle.

The Ups and Downs of One Day

A couple of days ago my boyfriend and I decided to go hiking. I knew of a pretty spot near a popular local tourist location that was just enough off track to be good for a quiet hike and picnic. We started out early, with our picnic, blankets and drinks, excited to spend the day together and in relative peace and quiet.

We parked and hiked down to the first waterfall. The trail followed the river and was gorgeous, but you were guaranteed to get slightly wet. We rolled up our pants, took off our shoes and started right in. We were having a blast. There was no one there, it was a wonderful day and we were excited to explore the area.

Things continued on nicely until we got to a fork. The path wasn’t very well marked but we could see another couple across the river so we thought that was the way to go. Unfortunately the only way to cross was a couple of tree branches that were clogging the riverbend. I decided to forge ahead. I was doing really well until 3/4 of the way across when I lost my balance and fell in, butt first. I felt like I struggled to for minutes to get out but my BF said it was probably only 30 seconds.

When my BF walked across and joined me, we decided to take a break for a few minutes. I was soaking wet from the butt down and was feeling rather shaky. As soon as we pulled out a blanket, I sat down and pulled out my phone. I immediately felt like crying. It worked, but the screen had been shattered. My BF sat down next to me and we just sat and talked for awhile. For me, this had definitely put a damper on my nice day. Now, I was worried about money and paying for at least a screen repair if not a completely new phone.

The rest of the day spent hiking went very well. And when we got home I showered and started a load of laundry. Then we started on our errands which now included a phone repair. After stopping at the local store, they said I wasn’t eligible for an upgrade but to check out a kiosk at the local mall for screen repair. After talking to the guy at the screen repair kiosk, I didn’t feel comfortable with leaving my phone with him or even having him find me a new phone, all of which would cost more than I spent to buy the phone in the first place.

My BF, being the resourceful guy that he is, looked up the price of my old phone at a local Target. Needing to run other errands as well, we headed to Target where we ran into the local business representative for my phone company. Talking to her for even a couple of minutes, she gave us advice to go to walmart where my old phone would cost $40 or the upgrade would be $70. She also gave me advice for the auto-pay setup and perks.

I ended up spending the extra $30 for the upgrade which was still cheaper than when I originally bought my old phone. We ended the day with a visit to my parent’s house and a fabulous spaghetti dinner.

In this one day, I experienced an emotional rollercoaster. My emotions and moods ranged from up to down so quickly it was almost difficult to follow and I’m sure it was difficult for my BF to watch. He handled it like a pro though, and was extremely supportive of me and the entire day. I’m extremely glad that I had him with me. All in all, I’m determined to look at it as a good day because I got a new phone, and I got to spend quality time with my BF. Also, I’ve decided that the next time I go hiking, I’m going to leave my phone in the car.

As Planned

My Story: After Outpatient Treatment Part 2

Week 2, Day 1:
I’ve been feeling better for the last couple of days. I need to write more on those days so that everyone understands that depression is up and down. I want to share more of my up days because not everything is down.
I’m scheduled to talk at 2 churches so far this coming month. (May is mental health awareness month.) It’s a little nerve racking, but I’m hoping to speak to another pastor at a local church about speaking to his congregation as well. And I’ve already spoken to a pastor at a larger church and she has all kinds of ideas of where I could speak. She saw me once before when the depression first began and she says she sees a huge improvement.
I’m nervous about my next therapist appointment. I don’t know if it’s going to work out, but I’m thinking I’m doing well enough that I would need to see someone once a week. It’s possible that during winter two times a week would be better because the winter is so hard on me.

Day 2:
The therapist session went really well. I think she’s really going to be able to help me with my issues and help me get to a point when I don’t have to see a therapist weekly. I really felt like there was a connection and that she’s going to be very beneficial for me. She’s going to be the assistant to my mechanic while working on my mind.
I’m really starting to look forward to the future, something I never thought I’d be able to do. I’m still going to have my struggles but for today, things are looking up!!

Day 3:
Today was filled with ups and downs. I went hiking with my BF. Please click here to read about my day.

Day 7:
I’ve been feeling uninspired with my writing lately. It’s not flowing like it used to and I’m frustrated with it. Maybe part of the problem is that I’m writing mostly scientific and informational posts. Posts that are meant to educate but if I’m feeling uninspired writing them, who is going to want to read them?
I think I’m also feeling frustrated that things aren’t moving faster along. I feel like I’m plodding through each today and it’s a struggle. I want to be happy, but at the moment all I can do is find those bits of happy moments that occur day to day and add them together. Will I ever be fully happy? Am I meant to be happy?

Day 8:
I got taken off of all my meds today. I’m not sure how I feel about it. Of course, we weren’t sure if they were working and I was feeling better while only sporadically taking them so perhaps this is for the best. I don’t like having to rely on drugs anyway.
I had a good session in therapy but we really just talked about my week. I think we’re still trying to get the lay of the land. I know that I do want to work on self-validation, so it’s something I’m going to bring up in my next session.

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