2017 Mental Health Awareness Month: On Depression
It has recently come to my attention that it is Mental Health Awareness Month and I have been planning to share something with you for a while now. However, I would like to start with a piece that I wrote in 2016 about my past dealings with depression and how it had affected my freshman year in college. So here is a post that I wrote a year ago which I have titled:
A Lesson in Taking Care of Your Mind
For as long as I can remember, I have battled a deep depression that has strained my social relationships and caused me to bully myself. Plagued with the feeling of hopelessness and possessing low self esteem, I eventually became comfortable with my own gray cloud to the point where being okay would feel like too drastic of a change. So while I had made attempts to get help through therapists and psychologists, eventually I would shy away afraid that I would not recognize the person I had become if I let people help me. I convinced my psychologist to prescribe me Lexapro, an antidepressant, and then I was off to college ignoring my psychologist’s warnings that I should continue speaking to someone. I thought I could handle it.
College had other plans for me. Upon arrival I struggled immediately with eating, making new friends and living with two strangers who were not strangers to one another. Overtime, the feeling that nothing will get better began to shackle around my ankles and I felt like I could never be free. I asked myself what could be wrong with me that even in getting a new life I could not escape a broken heart. I struggled to keep communication with my friends from home and I was afraid to connect with my new friends, worried that they would not like me once they got to know me.
In my second semester, things had gotten worse. I was now off of Lexapro and I had moved onto a thyroid medication. I had just found out that I had a faulty thyroid which causes change in eating habits, sleeping habits, mood, thoughts and behavior. The medication gave me bad headaches and caused me to want to sleep all the time. The days blurred together and I felt miserable. I eventually began to isolate myself at college and cause unnecessary conflict with my friends at school. Eventually, after failing to manage stress, boy drama, friend drama and fear for my health, I made the poor decision of abusing alcohol and faced probation in my college.
My poor actions had finally caught up with me and it was time to face the music: I needed help. After I ceased to take the thyroid medication with the blessing of my doctor, I began consistently journaling, seeing a counselor at my college and made plans to get help when I got home from school. It is okay to ask for help when you need it and we must take the time to take care of our emotional and mental health just like we take care of our physical health. Taking the time to make yourself better can only make you stronger in the future. It took some time for me to understand the toll I was allowing depression to take on me but, I learned that journaling can help me clear my mind and practicing mindfulness can help to keep me from being self-destructive. Sometimes saving yourself from drowning can start with asking someone for a life preserver.