For a little bit of background,
I come from a family of migrants. Parents who came from Europe to provide a better life for their kids. Parents who were not shown love and affection, because back in their time that wasn’t the main focus when raising children. The focus was making sure they were taken care of, fed and alive. In their time, mental health didn’t exist. “You’re depressed? Go do something you’re just lazy!” My parents never asked me about my day at school, never asked me how I was doing and damn sure never paid attention to my deteriorating mental health as a teen. They only viewed my actions and outbursts over the years, as me being crazy. Never did they once think there was an underlying problem, they didn’t consider intervention nor did they attempt to educate themselves on what the issue may be. But that’s a lot of deflecting on my part and a lot of “they” statements. Solely mentioned to exaggerate the delayed diagnoses. There were years of suffering and many failed attempts that could have been avoided, had my mental health been cared for like my physical health was.
It wasnt until I was 17 or so, that I took charge of my own mental health. I could see the issues it was causing in school, friendships and relationships. That’s when I finally took a step towards treatment and figuring out why this was happening. I realized this was a problem I was going to be facing for the rest of my life and that I needed to get a hold on it. So that’s exactly what I did.
The years to come were filled with different doctors, multiples diagnoses and even more medications. It seemed like trial and error with meds until some random combination finally made the depression bearable. Finally an assortment of pills that made me feel “ok” enough to live and function.
Then, I got pregnant with my son and had to get off all my medications and face reality. I word it that way, because the pills were a bandaid for so long. When I was without them, I had to learn who I was all over again. I had to learn my triggers and how to cope without drugs. I had to learn how to deal with the mishaps of life and how to keep moving forward. Getting off those meds was the hardest thing I’ve ever done but it was the first step in the journey of healing. Now, I had to face my problems head on rather than hiding behind a Xanax. Now, I had to feel my late night anxiety’s and sleeplessness instead of popping a seroquel. It was time for me to face what doctors were masking for SO long.
My pregnancy was hard, but the growth that occurred was phenomenal. I knew what triggered me, I accepted my diagnoses, I realized this really might be a life long problem and that’s ok! The most important thing I learned was how to cope. How to cope with dark thoughts, crippling anxieties and suicidal ideation. Because I was forced to face those feelings head on! No more masking with a combination of pills that some doctors thought were good for me.
It’s taken me 27 years to finally realize it’s ok to have these obstacles. Depression isn’t a life sentence unless I let it be. Anxiety isn’t going to kill me even though it feels like it sometimes. The dark thoughts don’t consume me and the suicidal ideation is drowned out with positive thoughts because that’s a coping skill I acquired. I realized my brain is sick, my brain is lacking some components (for lack of better words) that cause me to think rationally during hard times. But if I practiced my coping skills more and more, the more natural they became.
Almost 30 years old and I still struggle. I think I always will. I still forget those skills and get depressed. I still worry constantly some days. But every day im growing and flourishing into a stronger individual. Im becoming more and more equipped to deal with life’s tough moments. I will forever be a work in progress but slow growth is better than none at all.
Coming from a family who called me depression laziness and who called mental health a joke.. I encourage you, regardless of your background or upbringing, get mental health help when you see that it’s needed! Life as our parents or grandparents knew it, is over. It’s 2021, we take care of all aspects of our body now. Not just the visible, physical parts. But the parts you can’t see, the invisible illnesses that so many of our ancestors had but didn’t work on.
It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to be depressed but it’s not ok to stay in that dark place. It’s ok to worry but it shouldn’t consume your life. It’s ok to cry but not so much it hinders your abilities. It’s ok to feel and it’s ok to admit something might be a bit off. But it’s no ok to stay in that place! We all deserve to be happy and thriving. Mental health help is nothing to be ashamed of.