It has been 19 months since I was diagnosed with depression. One year and seven months of ups and downs, countless visits to the Mental Health Clinic and months and months of medication. It really has not been easy, but nonetheless, I am one giant step away from where I started.
I honestly don’t know where I would be today if I had not sought professional help. Daily I see people struggling with their own mental health issues and it is only due to fear of discrimination that they refuse to get the necessary help. Yes, I have reached out, opened up, shared my story with them, passed on the relevant contact information, but at the end of the day I can only do so much. It is up to the individual to acknowledge that they have a problem and make a personal decision to seek assistance.
And, while I am proud of myself for the strides I have made, I am still somewhat timid and wary of pointing fingers and judgmental eyes. I still get nervous that someone might see me when I collect my medication from the Psychiatric Hospital’s pharmacy. I worry that cruel children might hear about my situation and tease my children about their mentally ill mother. But I hope that someday I will be able to stand up and share my story publicly with the hopes of inspiring others like me, that there is a solution. If I had had that opportunity, I would tell them:
- Talk to a Psychiatrist / Psychologist
Untreated depression could lead you down a dark and treacherous path and possibly to the point of no return. Ignore that gnawing voice in the back of your head that is telling you “get over it” and get the help that you need. Some people have the silly belief that only persons in movies go to the psychiatrist and people with mental health issues belong locked up in a room. Dismiss those myths. And, if it is money that you are worried about, visit the Mental Health Clinic at your nearest polyclinic; there is no cost attached. Trust me, it is a judgement-free zone.
- Follow the doctor’s orders
Once you have made the step to get professional help, stick to the regime which the doctor has recommended for you. Yes, there are days that you will feel like you are 100 per cent better, but there is a strong chance that your initial feelings will creep back in, especially if you are going through an emotional situation.
“Letting my family know from the very beginning what I was going through made it easier for them to assist me as I attempted to overcome this illness.”
- Focus on your achievements
You do not need to be a Grammy winner or the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award, but there are things which you have achieved that you do not give yourself enough credit for. Acknowledge and celebrate them.
- Stay away from negative people
We all have those “friends” who have nothing to talk about but other people’s business or who will cry down any venture that you propose to undertake. There are also those persons who just happen to find themselves in the middle of some type of drama and can possibly drag you into the midst of it. Cut them off! You already have enough on your plate and do not need any negative influencers lurking around to add to your situation.
- Find quality time for you and your family
Throughout the last year I have found a support system in my children and close family members. Days at the beach, impromptu picnics, drives around the island and movie nights at home have been my source of relaxation and mental peace. Letting my family know from the very beginning what I was going through made it easier for them to assist me as I attempted to overcome this illness. So, talk to them, share your feelings and invite them to one of your sessions so that your doctor can further explain your situation.
And, to persons who may not be fighting a mental battle, I offer these words by the late Robin Williams: “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”
To get more information on depression and find out the warning signs, you may click here.