Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness month. So I am trying my best to make that awareness known. I am excited to be speaking to three church congregations about my journey and how they can help those with mental illness. I’m also extremely nervous to start public speaking but I’m hoping that these first three speeches will lead to bigger and better things. As Lao Tzu once said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” I guess speaking could be considered a second step, with this blog being the first.

Mental health is a serious matter, whether you suffer from an illness or not. It is always good to care for your mental state and your emotions. Being aware of your feelings and emotions makes you more in tune with yourself.

So in honor of mental health month, I’m going to ask you to wear a green ribbon whether it’s your mental health or in honor of a friend or family member. And when asked about it, explain why you wear that ribbon. There is no shame in mental health. Spread the word!!

May Mental Health Month Slideshow Final_0

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Another’s Perspective

I must preface this post by saying it is written by my best friend. He’s the one who has been there for me through everything. So here is his perspective on my (Talia’s) mental illness.

I have never been diagnosed with depression.  I don’t believe I am a true depressive.  In fact I consider myself a relatively happy person, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have my bad days.  We all have our bad days.  I may not be a depressive, but I am the friend that Talia has described as her supporter.  While I do not claim to have an understanding of what it is like to suffer from depression, I do feel like Talia has taught me a lot on her journey.  Recently, I’ve had a string of bad days and I felt like getting my thoughts onto paper may just help.

I don’t know exactly what it’s like to wake up every day and struggle to find the motivation to get out of bed.  I don’t know what it’s like to look at a situation and have an uncontrollable part of my brain make me think the absolute worst thing about it.  I don’t often question to myself what the point of trying is.  I don’t have this mental illness that consumes the logical part of my brain and spreads like a cancer, telling me I’m worthless and things will never get better.  I know the “string of bad days” that I have aren’t anywhere near what true depression is and that scares the HELL out of me.  I feel terrible as I write this and can’t even imagine what I would feel like if I did have depression.  I respect and love anyone who has to deal with these feelings everyday of their lives and that’s why I’ve remained loyal to and supportive of Talia.  No matter how many scientific articles you read, or how many stories you hear, a non-depressive will never be able to fully understand exactly what it’s like.  But they can get a decent knowledge and that could just lead you to be the supporter of a depressive.

For me, it’s a weird journey.  I have a lot of “normal” days.  I wake up, shower, get dressed and go to work.  I do the humanly thing and say “I don’t want to go to work today,” but that seems like nothing other than social expectations anymore.  Despite the fact that I do have a lot to be thankful for, such as breath in my lungs, a roof over my head or food on the table, it’s easy to find myself in a string of “bad days.”  The last two weeks have been a string for the ages.  I took a two day trip to St. Louis and had a ball, but when I returned to work the figurative snow started to fall.  I manage a store and am responsible for making sure it operates as it should to conduct business.  My first day back, I had a clerk call off due to a sick child.  We are a small store and she was the only one scheduled that day so I was forced to work by myself from 4 AM until 3 PM.  It wasn’t all that bad, but it was enough to get a little stressed.  That was when the figurative snowball was first packed.  I worked a 14 hour shift the next day.  That was when the figurative snowball was gently pushed over the edge of the hill.  Another clerk called off the following day and I was forced to work by myself again.  That figurative snowball was gaining momentum and it just kept going.  By Friday, five days after returning from St. Louis, the original clerk had her other child get sick.  So it was another day working by myself.  The weekend didn’t bring any improvements.  Three of my five staff were off due to requests that had been approved before we had lost a person.  To reward their work, I felt the need to fulfill their requests not knowing that the week was going to be hell.  Things at work just kept piling up and before I knew it, I had worked at least 12 hours for 10 straight days.

I was mentally drained.  That figurative snowball I mentioned previously had grown.  All it took was that one call-off to set things in motion.  At a point, my niece asked why the CD I was trying to play in the car kept getting spit back out.  As I told her that the CD player was just worn out and starting to lose function, the thought of having to replace my car soon entered my head.  I got this car my senior year of high school, twelve years ago.  It’s beginning its last leg.  I currently live with my sister, unable to afford my own place at 29 years old due to a crippling amount of student loan debt for a degree I may never use.  I’ve been working hard at paying down my other bills and saving money to free up funds to afford other life necessities, such as my own place.  Soon, I’ll have to make the decision of getting a new car or moving out on my own.  Of course it’s not really a choice at all; the car would win out and I’d be left living with my sister and her family.  I sit here writing this after day thirteen in a row at work, missing four days off over the course of the last two weeks and the thoughts just keep piling up.  I’m not content with where I’m at in life and I don’t feel as though the opportunities to correct it are there.  I can’t find a job worth leaving my current one, I can’t seem to find anyone to date and I don’t get to enjoy time off.

The point I wanted to make with that story is that we all have our “tough times”.  Have you ever missed a promotion at work?  Ever gotten called in on your day off? You feel helpless and let yourself get down.  Multiply that feeling by ten and you’d know how I feel right now, knowing why I feel terrible about myself.  Now take that feeling and multiply it by a million and you might just see what a depressive feels like EVERY day of their lives without having a clue as to why.  So take a moment before you make a comment to somebody suffering from depression.  It’s not quite as easy as “brushing it off.”  I’m having trouble picking myself up and I know why I’m down.  A depressive can’t fathom what it will take to bring them back and have no clue where to start.

I support Talia fully, no matter what.  Even though I have feelings similar to that of 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.

Worthlessness

Worthlessness. This is another overwhelming feeling that many people with depression have. You feel insignificant, unloved and unvalued. This feeling is directly related to depression and your self-esteem or self worth. The writing that follows come from a journaling I did on a particularly difficult day during therapy. I wrote this while sitting in group therapy. Nothing specific triggered this feeling.

I feel worthless, like I’m not worth people’s time and attention that my problems don’t matter and aren’t worth talking about.

I don’t feel like my dream is worthwhile or that it will ever get off the ground. I feel like it’s pointless.

I don’t like myself. I don’t even know how to like myself. How can I like myself, when other people don’t even like me? I hate my life. It feels like it’s never going to change. Like things are never going to change and I’m going to be stuck like this forever. Stuck at a dead end job, with no friends, no life, nothing to look forward to. What kind of life is that? Not one that is worth living.

I want to be a priority to someone. I loved the way my one friend treated me when we hung out the other day. He was rubbing my back, putting his arm around me, and pulling me down to cuddle with him. (All of which he didn’t do when we were dating.) I’m not usually a cuddler, but perhaps that has changed. I just wish I had that all of the time. Having someone constantly in my life would be amazing, but I can’t even keep friends in my life. I just want to be cherished, loved, wanted, etc. Everything that I don’t feel now.

I want a husband, family, kids, life, etc. Despite being unconventional, I want the traditional. But I don’t feel like I’m worth it, like I deserve it. And everytime I get rejected, whether by a man or woman, it just confirms that belief. That I’m not worth time, attention, priority. And I feel like I’m never going to have what I want. I don’t have any friends except you. How am I suppose to find someone who would want to be with me? Who would actually want to be with me?

I hate feeling invisible, worthless, like I’m just a problem that no one wants to deal with. I feel like I’m just a problem that everyone wants to pretend doesn’t exist. A problem that is just swept under the rug and forgotten about. No one knows what to do with me. It’s like they just want me to go away and disappear. To not be an issue.

I hate feeling this way, but I don’t know how to fix it. I feel like these coping skills aren’t going to help. I’m trying them but I don’t feel like they’re going to make a difference when I am no longer in this program.

I guess I want things to change immediately. I want to feel different but I don’t. I still feel miserable, depressed, worthless, etc. I feel like that’s never going to change.

I feel like my problems aren’t worth talking about. It seems like the group can’t ever get to me. That my issues aren’t worth talking about and I feel like I can’t get a word in edgewise. I don’t want to interrupt and I feel like I’m just not important. Not worth talking about.

I’m not worth time, attention, priority, friends…. I’m not worth anything.

Worthless

Thoughts for the Day 1/19

Today has been an interesting day. This year hasn’t started off well, and there are days when I wonder if things are ever going to get better. Honestly, my year started off with my boss cutting my hours from 40 hours a week to less than 20. The plus side, is that it has given me the push I’ve needed to find a new job. The negative, is that I’m not very optimistic about this job search. I’m worried that I’m not going to get called for interviews, that I’m not going to find a new job and that I’m going to burn through my savings trying to stay independent. All of which leads to today.

I’m only working three days this week, which gives me plenty of time to fill out applications on my job search. The downside is that I’m left with a lot of time at home, alone. I got off work today at noon, having an early shift and my first thought when I was getting off was that I didn’t want to go home. The problem is that I don’t have anywhere else to go. I’m sure it would be very different, if I had someone or even a pet, waiting for me at home; if I was not alone all of the time.

I’m so scared that I’m going to spend my life alone. I’m scared that I’m never going to find that person to be with, to marry. I want a family and I’m scared that’s never going to happen. At this point, I feel like I’m facing an entire lifetime alone, and that’s not something I want to face.

I guess, in a lot of ways, I’m a high functioning depressive. I get up and go to work. I try to get things done in my life. Most of the time, it’s because I have to. I want to be independent. I don’t want to need to rely on anyone, and I’m so scared of losing that independence, that freedom. I’m scared that I’m never going to get my feet back under me after being so severely knocked off them when my depression hit.

I was on track to graduate college with a double major and a minor, a semester early. All of that derailed my junior year. Maybe that is all for the best. I was studying a major I did not want. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I may not be any better off than I was three years ago, but at least I have a better view of what I would like to do with my life.

I might never succeed in my dream, but this blog is the start to it, so at least I’m taking a step in the right direction. I don’t know if things will work out for me, but if I stay scared, if I don’t try, I’ll never succeed. So here is my first step. This blog, no matter how scary it can be to share your innermost thoughts with the world, is my first step to my dream and hopefully, it will lead me to where I want to be. Hopefully, this blog is providing insight, help and hope to those suffering from depression. And hopefully, it’s providing progress, tolerance and awareness to those who have family or friends suffering from depression.

Adapt – Advocates for Depression Awareness, Progress and Tolerance

Become an advocate. Speak out.