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In today’s society, we sometimes only consider persons who are experiencing the flu, communicable or non-communicable diseases to be sick.

It is because of the lack of education or first-hand experience with other health issues, that persons are unaware of the prominence of mental health illness in our homes, workplaces and communities.

The following story is the fourth in a series of diary entries of a mental health patient living here in Barbados. Why is she sharing her story? To open your eyes to those who are silently crying for help, with the hopes that you may possibly save a life.

Dear Diary,

Today was a relatively good day. I almost felt like myself again.

It is now five weeks that I have been visiting the psychiatrist, and since she asked me to trust her and allow the programme which she has planned to work, that’s exactly what I am doing.

I won’t lie; there have been some rough patches since we began. For example, the first set of medication which she prescribed was way too strong and had some interesting side effects. Diary, I lost my hair and my mobility decreased significantly. I also lost my appetite, and if I didn’t monitor it carefully, I would go for days without eating, which only made me feel weaker.

I spoke to the doctor about it and she advised me to give at least two weeks for my body to adapt. Unfortunately, after that time had passed I still wasn’t getting better, so we had to change it. I am now on to my second set of meds and so far I have had no complaints. But then again what else can possibly go wrong?

I have noticed however, that I am less emotional and more focused. I think I only realised today how disconnected I have been with the world over the last few weeks. I’ve missed a lot of work, and I really didn’t have the strength to run around with my kids as I usually would. But today, today was different. I took the kids to the beach, then we went for ice-cream and came home to watch a movie. I think I may have actually been happy.

Diary, I have been hiding behind  a happy face for so long that I think I have lost touch with what happy really is. And what’s scarier is that I am not sure that I want that feeling of happiness because it will be a harder fall if I slump back into a depressed state. I can’t believe I am actually saying this but I think I am safer being down in the dumps, because there is nowhere to fall from there.

I know I can’t live my life in a state of depression forever, but staying at rock bottom is less painful than hitting rock bottom. If I had to describe that fall I would use this scenario:

One day I was walking with my children along the beautiful Crane Beach. We were talking and laughing, feeling free and blissfully happy. There was no drama in our lives, no debt, no hardship, nothing to worry about, just us, our laughter and our love. Suddenly, the sand under me caved in and I began falling into a deep dark abyss. My children were just a step behind me so they were safe, but I could see them reaching out to me, screaming my name, crying uncontrollably. I was screaming at the top of my voice, but it seemed as if no one could hear me. My heart was fluttering, my thoughts were out of control and I just kept falling until I landed some 100 feet from where I began – in a dark, cold pit.”

That fall surpasses the sadness and disappointment which others may feel at times. The feelings evoked by that fall drives me to question my existence and makes me wonder if I should even think about a future.

But Diary, I did not fall today. And while I am not sure that today was a happy day, I am glad it was a good day.

To get more information on depression and find out the warning signs, you may click here.

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