It’s easy to admit to yourself when you’re struggling. It’s another story all together when you admit to someone else how hard your day-to-day life really is. Showing weakness in itself talks its toll. Asking for help is one of the hardest things to do when you’re an adult.
But here’s the thing:
You are not alone. You may feel like you are, but you’re not.
Everyone struggles in one way or another, and more of us struggle with our personal mental health than you may expect.
Don’t be afraid to reach out. There will always be someone there to help. There are resources available to you if you’re struggling. You won’t be judged for reaching out for help when you need it, even if it’s just calling a friend.
The good days usually outnumber the bad, but you don’t need to pretend the bad days don’t exist.
If you suffer from depression, mediocre days may be the norm. But that doesn’t mean you can’t try to have some better days…or maybe even good days. Maybe therapy will do the trick. Or maybe medication. Or maybe even a combination of both. It’s ALL okay. Fantastic even. Trying to help yourself is never a bad thing. In truth, it’s a really great thing.
* * * *
I was officially diagnosed with depression in the form of Persistent Depressive Disorder (also known as Dysthymia) in the fall of 2014. My therapist noted that it gets worse depending on the season. I was also diagnosed with social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, trichotillomania and excoriation disorder (also know as dermotillomania or skin picking disorder). Most of these conditions are co-morbid, meaning they occur together. I saw a therapist weekly for about a year and a half before she discharged me. I have used the tools I learned while working with her ever since.
During the spring and summer of 2016, I fell into a deep depressive episode, and it got to the point where I went to see my family doctor. It also took some prompting from friends and family, because I am pretty sure I was in denial. But I made the appointment and my doctor and I agreed that the best course of action was antidepressant medication. I have been on it since August 2016. I now stand by the fact that starting medication saved my life. It also improved my overall mood level, by improving the baseline I operated at emotionally.
It is important to understand that medication does not cure depression. It only makes it easier to manage on a day-to-day level. This has made a huge different for me in my overall life. My depressive episodes have evolved from contemplating suicide pre-medication to lots of cry and having to talk to someone. While I do still have bouts of suicidal ideation, it’s not something I would ever actively or consciously consider. I really do love my life and the people in it.
All of this is leading up to my most recent episode, which culminated in an emotional breakdown. I’ve felt pretty low emotionally for awhile, even though some exciting things have happened. Back in September I went to the doctor and we increased my medication dosage. It has helped, but the winter is always especially difficult for me. I struggle the most in the darkness of winter and the humid heat of summer. Earlier this week I was feeling under the weather and it triggered an emotional breakdown. I was feeling like crap and I needed a hug. Unfortunately, since I live alone, there was really no one around or available to give me the hug and physical contact I needed. This led to an overwhelming sense of feeling and being alone. This was when the uncontrollable crying started. I just couldn’t stop. I knew I needed to talk to someone. I couldn’t work through the emotions all by myself. For this, I turned to my closes friends. I messaged them and they were able to help me start working through what was happening and to start making healthy decisions to recover. I also asked my closest local friend to call me as soon as she was able. She talked with my for close to an hour. She listened. She was a rational voice, and ultimately she helped me stop crying. We also made arrangements to meet the following day.
While I didn’t sleep very much or well that night, I no longer felt alone. I appreciated all the friends I reached out to for support so incredibly much. None of them judged me. They each showed me nothing by love and compassion and support, which was exactly what I needed at the time. In general, this is what can be expected from your loved ones. There are only rare exceptions. And here I am, a few days later, and in a better place mentally and emotionally. Reaching out allowed me to work through it and come out feeling better than before. In fact, I was able to return the favour to a dear friend this weekend, which I would not have been able to do without the help and support I received before.
* * * *
For those of your who are struggling locally and are unsure of where to turn, here are some available resources in the are:
CMHA Middlesex – 519-668-0624
CMHA Walk-In Crisis Centre – 519-434-9191
WAYS Mental Health Support (Youth-focused) – 519-432-2209
London Mental Health Crisis Service – 519-433-2023
Ontario Mental Health Helpline – 1-866-531-2600