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Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Let's Talk

May is the month to talk about mental health issues.  Don't keep your problems to yourself...talk them out.  It is mind boggling how many of us, when pressed, will admit to bouts of depression, suicidal thoughts, being on medication to control various conditions such as schizophraenia, autism, ADHD and the list goes on.  
Personally, I ran into trouble after the birth of my daughter when I entered into the hell of postpartum depression.  No doctor mentioned the possibility of this during the pregnancy or after.  For five years I struggled with feelings of worthlessness, did the bare minimum to keep the household running, harboured feelings of guilt because I couldn't enjoy my child the way other mothers seemed to enjoy theirs.  One day, sitting listlessly in front ot daytime TV, an angel mentioned her struggles with postpartum depression.  I sat up straight in my chair with chills running down my spine.  She was me.  I was her.  This was normal.  I was not some evil creature who didn't deserve to live.  From that day forward I began to improve.  Life again held happiness and meaning.  Postpartum depression has left it's mark though and I still have minor recurrances from time to time.  I recognize it now and if I can't handle it on my own I will get help.
My daughter suffers from bouts of severe depression and is on medication for it.  It would be so easy to judge her for the times when her home is a total disaster and her children are perhaps not cared for to the level one would expect.  She is struggling to get from one day to the next.  Sometimes she needs to be reminded that she needs to talk to her doctor again as the meds don't seem to be doing their job.  Sometimes she needs a break from the house just for a few hours or from the kids for an afternoon.  
My grandson has high functioning autism and ADHD...he also is on medication to try to control some of his outbreaks.  
Mental illness is rampant in our society.  One would be hard pressed to find a family that has not been affected.  For every day that you are filled with joy and can enjoy your day and the people around you, remember, there is someone (probably right next to you at work or on the bus or in the store) who is living in the darkness of mental illness.  Smile a lot at people, offer a friendly word to a stranger...such small things can mean the world to someone in the depths of despair.  And let's talk about it.
....thanks to Susan Kane of The Contemplative Cat for reminding me that is mental health month........

21 comments:

  1. I admire people who manage to live their lives while dealing with issues like this. I've been fortunate in that I haven't, really.

    Lately, I have begun to acknowledge that I might be dealing - and have always been dealing - with anxiety. Since the time I realized I was, when it happens, I've been better able to label it and sort of observe it rather than fall deeper into it.

    Which is really, when I think about it, what I used to read about what the Buddhist thinkers said about bad emotions (back when i used to read about Buddhism): You're going to feel anger, fear, sadness, etc. When these emotions come, just watch them and observe."

    It sounds little, but being able to recognize and label the bad stuff seems important.

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    1. I'm going to try that. I imagine it takes a little practice.

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    2. Hello Harry, there is a saying that "acknowledging something is half the battle." I hope you are doing better since acknowledging.

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  2. You are so right, it is rampant and mot often you cannot tell by just looking at someone. These things are carried inside and burn within until that moment when it becomes unbearable and then it becomes evident in the worst way possible. Sort of like a volcano; simmering within and then the explosion which runs over and touches many lives. When my first child, my son, was born he was diagnosed with failure to thrive but the doctor didn't ask me about post partum depression and I can see now that I probably was experiencing it as I was in a loveless 1st marriage and had only stayed with him because I was pregnant. It wasn't the wonderful, welcome experience having a baby should be. I know I tried to be a good mother; read all the books and practiced what they preached but didn't feel that connection I should have for my child. Unfortunately, the same thing happened when my daughter was born three years later. I was on birth control, like I was for when my son came (birth control didn't work on me) and felt trapped all over again with a 2nd child to stay in a loveless marriage for. I did fix that problem though and had myself "fixed" so I couldn't get pregnant again. I was finally able to be strong enough to leave him and end his reign of terror when my daughter graduated high school. I'm happy to say life go so much better since then. Oh, I do admit I get a bit depressed when I hear from my son or daughter as they both turned out to have the same personalities as their father and also look just like him, and only contact me when they want something too. Neither of them has anything to do with their father because he was so nasty to them as well. Sometimes I think he got the better deal as he never has to hear about their problems or worry about their safety like I do. Usually a call from one of them breaks my heart all over again.

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    1. You've had a hard time of it. It's difficult when other people affect our state of mind.

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    2. That other saying, "ignorance is bliss" is true because the less I know about what my children are up to......the happier I am. I'm sure there are many more euphimisims we could come up with that would fit.

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  3. My stepson is a schizophrenic. It runs in his mom's family. His grandmother and aunt both had it. His mom died too young to tell. I fear he may be institutionalized for the rest of his life. He gets better, the hospital lets him out, and within a week he stops all medications and starts smoking marijuana instead. He's growing older now, in his 30's, and along with age, he is becoming more violent. He never used to be. He has been in the psychiatric hospital for nearly two years now, has had violent episodes in there, and refuses to take his medications. He doesn't shower, shave, cut his finger nails and wears the same clothes over and over despite the fact that we are always buying him clothes. He actually smells on occasion. It's so sad, and I know my husband feels so helpless. My heart breaks for both of them.

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    1. Hello, I do understand what you are going through and the helplessness your husband must feel. My stepson is schizoaffective disorder and does those same things. We took him in several years ago and had to send him away after he tried to hurt me. I took my husbands car to the post office one day and my husband was home. Just after I left the driveway, my stepson noticed the car was gone and he came running into the house with a knife and stopped short when he saw his father (actually adoptive father, not his real son either). It was a miracle that I had left the house that day and followed my instincts to take my husband's car. That still small voice told me to do so and I've learned to follow my intuitions like that. My husband immediately took him to his counselor and had him sent away. Never let your guard down, please stay safe. These individuals are like ticking bombs.

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  4. So very hard to watch someone you love go through this misery.

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  5. Mental illness must be addressed. Help someone who cannot help themselves, if you are able.

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  6. We all have bouts of anxiety and depression but when it becomes our way of life, we need to seek help. I did and and although anxiety still plagues me, I have been able to fight through the depression with and without help and come out the other side with hope. There is no alternative. I will never go back to that very dark place.

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  7. Well said. I hope there comes a day when brain and emotional health is as well understood as, say, orthopedics or dental problems. Right now the mind is still a bigger mystery than not. In our immediate and extended families there has been depression, seasonal affective disorder, schizophrenia, obsessive compulsions, agoraphobia, anorexia, high anxiety, and moderate anxiety. I feel lucky that I only have the last. But who knows? That could change any day, for no apparent reason. At least having seen it up rather closely, I think I might -- might -- recognize a decline in mental health in myself.

    Thanks for sharing and talking about it, my friend.

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    1. A lot of us are so much more aware now and ceertainly willing to talk about it and get help when needed.

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  8. That certainly was a serendipity coincidence to see that woman on the TV just when you needed to. Although sooner might have been better, you still were able to finally realise and get the help you needed.
    It bothers me that so many are affected by one form of mental illness or another, probably no more than in the past, but more is known about it now, so people talk about it more.
    My only personal experience with depression is the months right after Angel got stolen from me and I crawled out of that black hole soon after I realised what it was. I wish everyone could do that, but I know it just isn't that easy.

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    1. No, it''s not that easy. Depression can be debilitating and crushing.

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  9. Depression and anxiety (and so many other mental illnesses) are soul sucking practised liars. I long for the day that they receive as much attention/research/support as physical illnesses.

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  10. Over the past 15 years, I have tried various therapies to deal with anxiety. Have had most success with hypnotherapy in combination with drugs prescribed by my general practitioner. Mainly I have learned self-compassion, which includes accepting the old beat-up version of myself and the appreciation of beauty in the world --in the supermarket, in the crowded places. I feel the energy then, the life of the future. I am not young, but I am emboldened by vitality and youth around me. Even now, nearly one a.m., I am happy about our work in continuing this beautiful series of generations, and I am not afraid --I WILL be, no doubt, but not right now.

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  11. I'm glad you happened to see that gal on TV talking about postpartum depression. I can see why you called her an angel. She kinda saved your life.

    So many of us have struggled with these things, but we so rarely talk about them. There's still a stigma of shame attached to any kind of mental problems, so we hide our true feelings. Keep 'em in the dark. I was the queen of doing that when I was a teenager. It strikes me as ironic that almost everyone who signed my yearbook commented about me always having a smile on my face... if they only knew. Thanks so much for shining a light on these issues.

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It's lovely to know someone else is out there. Please leave me a comment...pretty please.