Mental Health #1

Posted: July 22, 2016 in Uncategorized

I’ve struggled with mental health issues since I was a teenager.  I’ve been on and off medications , misdiagnosed, rediagnosed and I’ve seen a handful of doctors and counsellors. I’m largely silent on social media about it, mainly because there is such stigma attached to suffering from a mental illness. I’ve always believed that people didn’t want to hear about it or would think that I was talking about it to gain attention or something akin to adulation.  

Why I choose to talk about it now is precisely because there is stigma attached to it. I want to be very clear that every opinion expressed is mine alone. Put simply, it’s because everyone experiences their illness(Es) differently. Depression and anxiety for me may not be the same as depression and anxiety for someone else. Even if I don’t directly say “I”, you can assume I’m talking about myself, at least in regards to experiences and symptoms.

But I feel we need more people to be vocal, to humanize it. Mental illness isn’t something we lock people away in dank institutions for any longer, but the fear and stigma are still there. Even with celebrities like Kristen Bell being open and honest about their struggles, there is still an underlying trepidation when discussing it. 

But it isn’t something to be ashamed of. It’s not something to hide. On the contrary, I’m  proud to talk about it-because of what I have survived. I am still alive, having survived (largely due to a massive stroke of luck I still thank whatever divine creator is up there for) a suicide attempt almost ten years ago. I’ve made it through some of the darkest thoughts, near crippling anxiety and my own fears about telling people of my struggles. 

My official diagnosis is depression,  anxiety disorder with some elements of OCD (which are, according to my doctor, manifestations of my anxiety). The depression ebbs and flows, but the anxiety is always there. That’s my biggest struggle. You know that feeling you get when you are about to fall but don’t? That’s how I feel most of the time. Sometimes it’s worse, and sometimes I barely notice it but it’s always there. Large crowds, loud noises, small spaces and stress can trigger an anxiety attack, which sucks. But I’m lucky in the sense that I’ve not had a full blown panic attack in a long time. 

So I’m three days on Zoloft, and thus far I’ve experienced a tiny perceptible change in my anxiety, which I half consider (thanks to my wife’s astute knowledge) psychosomatic because there’s no way in three days to feel a difference from just a 50mg starting dose. At least I don’t think so. But maybe there is. 

I don’t pretend to be an expert. I know a bit about psychology but this little series I’ll be doing isn’t to meant to be a professional assessment of mental illness, nor is it to be used a diagnostic tool. If you think you are suffering from a mental illness , please see someone. It will be the greatest decision you make in your life.

And that someone doesn’t have to be a psychiatrist to start with, a counselor or therapist are great tools as well. Some people don’t need medications, others do. It’s different for everyone. You have to decide what’s right for you.

And if you’re thinking of taking your own life, please drop what you are doing and tell someone, or go directly to the hospital. You are unaware of what good you have to offer right now, I know that feeling first hand. Please get help if you feel that way. You’ll be glad you did, maybe not right away but once you cut through that darkness you will be thankful.

Until next time.

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