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 at 1-800-273-TALK.