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 Social Environment

I don’t do well in social environments in fact, I downright suck at them. I always feel awkward, like I don’t fit in. I never feel like I’m part of the group, but just hanging on by my fingertips.

Social environments have always been hard for me. I didn’t thrive, socially, in school. I usually had one or two close friends and many acquaintances. I remember times when I would be chasing after the popular group of girls, wanting them to accept me but never being accepted. This hurt, but I never considered it to be my fault. When I was younger, I just accepted it as status quo and I was ok with that. I had friends elsewhere and I never had to worry about having friends to hang out with.

As I grew older and entered high school, I never found my niche. I was involved, with my classes, with choir and theater, but I never quite fit in. It was the same story, feeling like I was on the outside looking in. I was never invited to events unless it was a group thing and while this bugged me every once and awhile, I was too busy for the most part to care. I may not have felt like I fit in but I was involved enough not to care.

College was a disaster for me. Everyone thought I would thrive in a college environment, at this point, I feel like I did everything but thrive. I feel like I crashed and burned. I had many issues with roommates and by the time I left college 3 years in, I hadn’t made any serious friends. In fact, the only thing I had done throughout college was lose friends. As I said, not a good experience for me.

Today, I have 2 friends, one of which is an ex-boyfriend while the other is my current boyfriend. I don’t know what they see that no one else can be I’m grateful that they do. My social environment still sucks. I don’t really get out, but then again I don’t enjoy doing the things normal 20-year-olds do, like drinking every weekend. But I do want to have fun. I want to hang out with people and do things, I just can’t find the people to do things with and I don’t even know how to go about meeting people at this point. I wish I could make friends but my depression makes that nearly impossible, so maybe if I get better, my social environment will change for the better.

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.

Trust

I have a hard time trusting people. I’ve watched so many people walk away from me that it’s hard for me to trust that friends are going to stay in my life. I wonder if it’s something wrong with me that makes people walk away. As I’ve been told, there can’t be something wrong with the entire rest of the world, so it has to be me. There has to be something wrong with me. Too bad I can’t figure out what it is.

Maybe my standards are too high. I think that friends should be there for each other no matter what. I’ve answered the phone before at 3 o’clock in the morning because a friend needed me. Why can’t someone do that for me? I think that friends should stand by each other through thick and thin. I only have two friends that I can count on, and even then I’m hesitant to do so. A part of me thinks that if I push too hard, or make too many demands, they’ll walk away and then I’ll be left with no one.

Maybe, a part of me pushes at people because I don’t expect them to stay. It’s almost like I’m pushing them to see where their breaking point is. Because I expect them to leave, I push until they do. Unfortunately, I’m still disappointed and upset when they do. I’m not sure why I push at people. I wish I wouldn’t though. I would like to have more than 2 friends.

I wish I could trust people, but they haven’t given me any reason to believe that I can. In many ‘friendships’ I feel like I have to do all of the work. I’m the one reaching out to them and trying to plan things. That seems to be something that they don’t reciprocate, so what’s the point of trying when they won’t do the same for you? I wish I could believe that my friends wouldn’t walk away from me, but so many have left me that it’s impossible to believe that. I wish I could figure out what the problem is, then maybe I’d have friends.

My Story: Part 7

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

Part 7, Day 1,:

Vacation was amazing!! I lived in the moment and all of my stress and depression melted away. I felt so good on vacation. Of course, the minute I walked through my door at home, everything came crashing down onto my shoulders. So I guess I need to learn how to live like I’m on vacation. That’s easier said than done.

Day 5:

So I’ve decided to get a dog, or more specifically an emotional support animal. I’ve been putting it off lately, but I’ve finally decided that it’s now or never. I can’t keep waiting forever. I’m looking forward to having an emotional support animal. Hopefully it will help me with my depression.

On the flip side, learning to live like I’m on vacation is not an easy task. I’m struggling with it. I was so happy and living in the moment while on vacation and now that I’m home, everything is getting to me. I feel like I’m upset every other day. I wish my depression would get better. Hopefully a dog will help.

Day 12:

Today was a horrible day. I spent most of the day crying. First, I found out that the third dog that I was interested in was no longer available for adoption. Then, I found out that my best friend had changed his plans, making me feel like he had lied to me. Normally, we get lunch or dinner every Thursday, but today I feel like he is blowing me off. I feel like I’m not important or wanted.

All of which is a little ridiculous, because my boyfriend was hanging out with me today so it should have been a good day. At least he lets me use his shoulder to cry on. He even cried a little because I was so upset and he hates seeing me that way. He can be so cute. Of course, I cried when he left. I hate when he leaves. I know I’ll see him again, but I hate that we only get to see each other twice a week. I wish we could be together more.

Day 15:

It’s hard to stay angry at your best friend when he does nice things for you. I’ve been angry at him ever since I felt like he lied to me. But today, he might have found me a puppy and then he stopped by my work on his way home just to say hi. It was very nice of him and I made sure he knew that I appreciated it. It’s just been a struggle with him having a new girlfriend. I feel forgotten until he suddenly decides to do something to show me that I still exist in his life. I just wish those gestures weren’t so few and far between. That can make it difficult to remember.

Day 18:

I got the puppy!!! I was so nervous that my application was going to get turned down. I went and visited them yesterday, but they didn’t have any of the unadopted puppies in so I was told to come back tomorrow. Boy, was I surprised when she asked me if I wanted to take the puppy home with me that day. I wasn’t ready at all!! I had to ask my mom to puppy-sit so I could go get everything I need for her. I’m sure she’ll be a handful but it’ll be so nice having a dog to come home to. I can’t wait to train her!!!

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

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.

Absence

It has been two years, almost to the day, since my last post. I would like to first apologize to those who follow my blog, for my absence. It became difficult to continue writing after my friend and collaborator decided that he no longer wished to be my friend. As the grief eventually faded, life got in the way and this blog fell by the wayside.

I recently realized that I missed writing about mental disorders, and my experiences and how helpful and therapeutic it was for me to write this blog. While many things have changed for me, I still struggle with my depression everyday.

Many of the posts that I had finished writing before my absence take place within the same time frame of my original posts, however I believe it is important that they be read. I will then be sharing an update of the two years in-between.

I’m excited to be restarting this journey and I hope it will be informative and helpful for anyone who reads it. If you have any questions, please feel free to message me. I welcome the chance to help others understand mental disorders.