The Mental Health Tag

Hey, how’s your day going? Probably great if you’re reading this swell content. One thing that is very difficult when talking about mental health is to be blunt. Honestly, it’s my biggest problem if I’m discussing my mental health. It’s so much easier to talk around the subject and not get right to the point. Kind of like I am right now…

 

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So I’ll be more blunt; at least, today I will. I found “The Mental Health Tag” when reading a blog (shoutout to Jenny in Neverland!) and thought I would give it a try myself. You can read her post here!

What is your mental health issue?

My mental health issue is clinical depression and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD).

Do you have medication and/or therapy?

I’ve taken various medications over the past four years and am currently on medication. I’ve also undergone cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) with various therapists and psychiatrists (I had to mix and match in college) but I’m not currently in therapy.

What therapy/medication have you tried and have any worked for you?

I’ve done CBT on and off for five years or so, and it’s been a mixed bag for me. They certainly taught me a lot not only about myself, but about different tips and tactics that I could use to tackle my depression and anxiety. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t (my friends can attest to that…for sure) but I would say that while it didn’t ‘work’ it definitely helped. I tried three medications before I found one that worked for me, and unfortunately it was guess and check for a few years before I found something that helped. It’s not perfect, but it gets me out of bed in the morning! Well…most mornings.

How long have you had problems for?

I was diagnosed in early 2013, so about four and a half years.

Do your family/friends know?

For a long time only my immediate family and closest friends knew, but as I got to know myself and my mental health better, I told more people about it. Now it’s something I don’t mind anyone knowing, and am very happy to talk about with anyone who wants to know.

Does this affect your work and daily living?

Does it EVER. Sorry, that was a joking way of saying that yes, it affects nearly everything I do. I like to say that I have high-functioning depression and anxiety; I can go about my day and get things done, but what’s going on inside my head is a completely different story. And that’s on a good day. It doesn’t affect the quality of work that I’m able to produce, but some days are harder than others. But yes, it’s safe to say it affects my daily life.

What makes you feel calm?

Watching Netflix (depending on the show), meditating, writing, working on my basketball website, biking, hiking, being in nature.

What do you do in crisis?

Typically I like to be left alone in times like that, because there’s really not anything anyone can do for me and that makes me feel bad. However, in college I met some amazing people who would be with me at my worst to keep me safe. No, they did not have to do that. And yes, I am forever grateful for that and will probably never be able to repay them for all of their generosity.

What advice would you give to others suffering?

Don’t go it alone. Depression makes you feel like you’re isolated and fighting this battle all by yourself, and for years I believed that. But you’re not, even when you feel like it. Especially when you feel like it. And once you open up about your struggle, it’s amazing who will help you out – some people will surprise you, and you’ll get help from the most unlikely places.

What makes you smile?

Writing (especially screenwriting!), exploring a new city, getting stuff done when I feel depressed, playing with my little brother, watching a good movie, and doing anything that makes me feel alive – which is super generic, but you never know what can make you smile.

Describe your mental health issue in 5 words.

Daunting, tiring, challenging, motivating and uplifting.

If you have any questions about my mental health or want any advice or support for yours, please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear it.

It’s #WorldMentalHealthDay!

#WorldMentalHealthDay means it’s another WONDERFUL day to talk about mental health! It’s the 25th anniversary of World Mental Health Day, which was founded in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health. Obviously any special day, week or month bringing awareness to mental health is important, but I feel like this day is especially important not only for those with a mental illness, but for anyone who is trying to maintain good mental health – which is everybody.

The theme for this year’s #WorldMentalHealthDay is Mental Health in the Workplace, which I personally love because I think the workplace one of the places where the taboo of discussing mental health is most prevalent. Mental health is JUST as important as physical health.

I don’t mean to be critical of workplaces specifically; there are tons of environments and situations where discussing mental health is far more taboo and uncomfortable. But the value of good mental health in the workplace is something often taken for granted, and only noticeable when someone’s lack of mental health begins to affect their work productivity. Mental health issues happen to people regardless of how much they can get done at work. Some of the most productive people I know have mental health disorders, and often have to work twice as hard to get the same amount of work done as their co-workers.

In a perfect world, employees would have good mental health and would come to work every day with a sound mind and body, ready to get to work. But as (I hope) we all know, it is not a perfect world, and we often bring out moods and attitudes into the office with us.

How can this change? Have a conversation with a co-worker or a friend. Ask them how they’re doing. How they’re really doing. While mental wellness can sometimes be more make or break for someone with a mental illness, taking care of your mental health is important for everyone. Please don’t ignore it. Your life truly does depend on it.

When Did My Depression Start? I Don’t Know

The first time I went to see a therapist, she asked me when all of this started. “All of this” is a very non-descript way to broach the subject of depression, by the way. The answer seemed simple at first. But then I gave it some thought, and what becomes clear is that this is something that I’ve dealt with for much longer than I realize.

At first I believed that my depression and anxiety began in college. My first year of college was very eventful – to say the least – and it took quite a toll on me. When I started my sophomore year and things settled down, that feeling of being emotionally drained persisted. I didn’t enjoy anything – classes, hanging out with friends, anything I was involved with. I would work out constantly because it would take my mind off the depression that seemed to creep in day after day. I began to distract myself as much as possible from the constant state of anxiety I lived in.

The next therapist asked me about my childhood. How were my parents? Did anything traumatic happen to me? Did I undergo any trials or tribulations that – to me, at least – couple help explain my current state? And the answer was…not even a little bit.

Is that something I should complain about? No, not really. It must really suck to have parents who would do anything for you and enough siblings to always have something to do (I’m one of six children – a big old Catholic family. That obviously afforded me plenty of alone time with my thoughts).

I don’t regret anything I did growing up; I loved all of it. But what I think it did was distract me from having to think – really think – about who I am as a person. Maybe that was just because I was a kid, and couldn’t comprehend the fact that at the end of the day, I always felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything. That what I was doing with my life didn’t matter. That everyone else was better than me. As long as I can remember, I never thought I was all that important. I still don’t. But that’s okay. Now I know that this is part of me, I can attack it just like I do everything else. And that makes me feel pretty good.

My Brain Might Be Broken

Sometimes I think my brain is broken. I don’t know when, but at some point, someone got inside my head and turned the screws loose. Or they took stuff out and forgot to put it back in. Regardless, things are not as they should be in my head. I know that for sure.

It’s been hard to figure out what goes on in my head. I didn’t have a name for it until I was 19 years old, when I went to a psychiatrist for the first time. I went for a simple enough reason: I’d been sad for a long time, and there was no reason why. At least, it was that simple to me. The longer I was there, the more I realized that what I was thinking, what I was feeling, wasn’t normal. And so, I tied being normal to having normal thoughts. And that’s how my journey with mental health began.

This blog is going to be a lot of things. It’s about me, yes, but it’s also about mental health, about depression, about anxiety, about people, about life. My mental health has shaped me in ways that I could have never possibly imagined, and transformed me so many times into so many different types of people that it’s hard to keep count. It’s a big part of who I am, which is why I’ve decided to write about it.

But this will also about resiliency. About believing in yourself. About trusting that the path you’re on is the right one, or worse, the one you don’t like but need to be on. It’s about a lot of things, some of which I don’t even know yet. But that’s the beauty of this path that I’m on, a path I didn’t ask to take but am still going to travel. Because I’ve seen this issue from every possible angle, every side of the coin, every happy high and depressing low. I’m not saying I’ve made it out safely to the other side – I don’t know when that will be – but I do know that I’m not going to stop trying to get there. And this blog, this collection of writing and work and art that I plan to create, is the real-time, real-life depiction of that fight, that non-stop fight to live a happy and healthy life.

You want a one sentence description for what this blog will be? I can’t do that. Go ahead and try to describe your mental health in one sentence. I’ll wait.