May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Photo by Kelly L on Pexels.com

First off, I want to clarify I am not anything but a stay-at-home mom. I have a degree, but it is in History. I don’t plan on sharing anything medical and plan only on sharing only my own experiences and resources. If you are having mental health issues, please please consult a medical doctor.

My family is moody. We are a family of passionate emotions, we feel things deeply. But some of us also deal with with some other very real, very complex, very serious mental health issues. Anxiety, depression, OCD sort of runs amok among our family members, and it can be very difficult, for those who are living with it everyday and for the family members who love and support them.

We all go through ups and downs. Days that seem dark and gray, or situations that cause us to be nervous or fearful. Usually all we need on those type of days are resolution of that one issue, a good friend, a walk, a day off. But when those days begin to be the only type of days we have, when we can’t shake it off, when we are constantly filled with fear and doubt and grief, then more needs to be done.

At the beginning of the pandemic, I had a month of total paralysis almost of who I am. I was scared. I was depressed. I had a hard time envisioning any sort of future, I had such overwhelming feelings of doom. And I had a five year old I had to take care of. So I rallied. Sort of. I knew I couldn’t do it alone. I had had wonderful role models in my life, who have lived with these feelings their whole lives, and who did all the right things to be able to move on, therapy and medication. So, I immediately made two appointments, one with a therapist and one with a psychiatrist. As we were in lockdown, they were virtual and the demand was high at this time for mental health services. I was not the only one going through those feelings! The psychiatrist prescribed me something, very low dose, to help me on my way, and the therapist helped me talk through my fears and feelings. I had good friends and family who talked to me whenever I needed to throughout the day. My support group was large. After two weeks, I was on my way back to the way I was, unsteady but doing everything I needed to do. And when I falter now, they are still there.

I have another loved one who lives with OCD. This person, let’s call them Charlotte, had a doctor who thought it was a good idea to wean them from the medicine they had been on for years, even though Charlotte said they didn’t think that was a good idea. Until then, the behaviors were balanced and under control. However, as the medicine began to leave their system, these old patterns were rearing their heads again. Double check, rechecking, rechecking. Over and over, stuck in a loop unless physically removed from it. Away from the situation. Away from their house. They were miserable. And so, they left that doctor, went to another, explained what was happening, and was first put on their normal medicine again, and second, referred to a therapist to help them through until the medicine could bring them back to balanced again.

I know that there is a lot of stigma surrounding pursuing help for things like anxiety, depression, OCD. Or any other mental illness out there. I think it takes tremendous strength and power to say, “I need more help” and to go and do something about it, especially with the stigma that exists.

These feelings can affect anyone, old or young, male or female. And there are resources out there for those that need them, so many. No one has to go this alone. Doctors, social workers, helplines, first responders, even apps for your phone that allow 24 hour access to help of all kinds, by all means, video chat, phone calls, texting. We need to help people overcome the stigma and reach out for the help they need.

If you feel like you need some extra help, I urge you to seek it out. Your own doctor is a perfect place to start. The website Silence the Shame also has a huge list of mental health resources and how to contact them. If you are in need of immediate assistance, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline atΒ 1-800-273-TALK.

15 thoughts on “May is Mental Health Awareness Month

  1. Great post. I have struggled with depression off and on over the years, but after I retired and began doing the things I loved, I found a great escape from those feelings. I realized that I found strength in doing what I loved doing!

    The Pandemic tried to kick my ass, but since I was already free from the things that usually caused anxiety, I managed. I didn’t love where I was living (assisted living, thanks to my daughter, lol), but once I moved to my current apartment, I was released again from the emotions that had plagued me.

    Enjoy your days and your adventures.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Erin, this is such an eloquent and brave post. When I look back at those early days of the pandemic, all I remember is how surreal everything felt. I looked at my husband on numerous occasions and asked, “Do you think we’ll survive this?” I honestly didn’t know. I dealt with undiagnosed panic attacks for years until I ended up in the ER thinking I was having a heart attack. Luckily, medication (a very low dose) has almost completely eradicated those. A group of people to nurture you, an understanding doctor, therapy, medications…all of these we need…even if we don’t deal with mental issues. I’m glad you and your friend were able to find what you needed.

    https://marshainthemiddle.com/

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! I actually quit therapy at the very start of the pandemic. Not the best time to do it, but that’s how things worked out. Therapy and medication didn’t fix my problems, but they gave me strategies for living with them. I wish I’d gotten help sooner. It might have saved me some pain.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a lovely post, speaking to many of us about something that is not often spoken about. I know many people who struggled with mental health issues during the pandemic, and I’m not sure that most of them found a way to cope. Because people are so unfamiliar with mental health professionals and because people don’t often talk about mental health issues, there is a lack of information out there. Thanks for sharing this post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, it is like the unspoken elephant in the room a lot of times, and I wish it was easier for people to think of mental health issues like medical issues. If you have high blood pressure, diabetes, etc, people don’t feel weird and shameful about taking care of it. We need to get there with mental health as well! And thanks Deb!

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  6. Ugh. I always worry about doctors choosing not to keep me on my meds. They’ve worked wonders for me, I don’t want to go *off* them. I’d be afraid of life without them. Thank goodness my current psychiatrist is perfectly happy to keep prescribing me what works.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This person found out that it is standard practice at her age (75) for doctors to wean people off of certain meds because they increase their risk of fall – but that people can be put back on them if the benefits outweigh that risk. I totally understand that fear though. Once that perfect mix and balance is found, you don’t want anything to upset it again. No one wants to go back to feeling bad. I am very happy to hear that you have a good doctor you are working with who hears you and understands you!

      Liked by 1 person

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