Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#DayofLight for Mental Health

I have always thought of myself as a happy well balanced individual. I always try to look on the bright side of things. I am positive and optimisitic. I am a glass half full kind of person. But, the truth of the matter is that no one can be those things 24/7. We all have our up days and our down days; our positive and negative thought patterns; our glass half empty or don't feel like having a glass at all kind of moments. I also think that with age and experience you encounter more life situations that naturally lend themselves to growing a bit of cynicism and pessimism.  These are all parts of life. What is not part of a normal ebb and flow of emotions and outlooks is those feelings that won't leave you alone. Those feelings that drag you down, leave you stuck watching hours of tv, ignoring your calls and texts, perhaps eating more ice cream than normal, dreading waking up in the morning to start it all over again.

I am here to say that depression is real. It's not this deep dark thing that happens to a small minority of people either. It's pretty damn common and not something to be afraid of or embarrassed of. I am constantly surprised by how sensititve people still are about mental health; how un-PC our society still is to those suffering from mental health. It is so important to be honest with yourself, with those that care about you, with society.

I guess my point is, that we need to open up the conversation and get serious about awareness. Don't be afraid to share your mental health with your children or with your siblings or parents. It wasn't until college, when one of my best friends shared with me that she was suffering from depression. She was this beautiful, smart, hard working girl who seemed to all of us happy as one could be. She had a good job, good grades in school, a loving boyfriend, and no other traumatic life circumstances. Yet, she was depressed. It was truly eye opening for me as I had never encountered anyone I knew that was open about their mental health like that.  I am so glad that my friend opened up an honest conversation with me and that she was not afraid or embarrased to share. I had no idea that ten years or so down life's road, I would be racking my brain to recall all details of that conversation with her in that little La Jolla apartment where she told me about what depression is and how it effects others and how we could support her. Now, in my third decade of life, I can say that I know several people whom are very close to me that have dealt with rocky roads of mental health, myself included.  When I felt my own signs of depression just a few years ago, I saught out a councelor immediately and I am so glad. Therapy was amazing and I only went for a few sessions before I felt back on track. Mostly I just learned how to correct some of the negative thought processes I had somehow developed.  One of the things that helped me through some hard days was being able to talk openly with my husband, my parents, and especially two of my best  friends who have also dealt with depression.

Luckily I did not expereince a clinical post partum depression, but I have definitely questioned my mental health many times over since having my Micah. Thankfully because I subscribe to an amazing mental health blog and feel free to discuss my mental health with my family and a few friends, I have a lot of great checks and balances in place to help do what I need to prevent those thoughts from spiraling out of control. Also, if I'm just in a depressed mood (not in a full depression), I like to go back and check out my happy lists, my life goals, and my inspirations.

Please open up a conversation about your mental health with someone who is important to you today. Go check out a blog that someone is writing about their mental health. Sign up for a therapist (seriously…we all should have them even when our mental health is A ok! It's amazing to have an unbiased and neutral opinion on your life!). And spread the awareness please. As Cristi from Motherhood Unadorned says, If you find yourself struggling today or any day, please reach out. Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255) can give you resources. 

"On Wednesday February 5th bloggers from all over the country are collaborating to flood social media with personal stories about living with depression, and accurate information on managing and living with the mental illness. #DayOfLight was created to shine a light on depression, and share resources for those who are struggling with the mental illness."

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