Can we all just agree that the stigma around mental health is stupid, and I wish I could wave a magic wand and make people understand what it’s ACTUALLY like living with a mental illness (chemical imbalance/mood disorder) – whatever you choose to call it.
There are SO MANY misconceptions out there and all those external voices poo-pooing your reality is so overwhelming, never mind the internal voices that want to lie and tell you you’ll never make it, you’re not good enough and you’re not coping so you should just give up.
Don’t listen to them, any of them.
There are so many reasons for your mental health to take a dip, and even when you ARE medicated and doing “well” there are still a myriad of things that can cause you to relapse. It’s just happened to me a few weeks ago and I can promise you it was NOT PRETTY.
Coping mechanisms that no longer work.
So let me start by saying that getting help is GOOD, talking to a professional councilor or psychologist is GOOD, making changes in your lifestyle is GOOD, especially if they benefit your mental health and family wellness.
My relapse came about because I believed that I could cope without my meds, so I weaned myself, without consulting my doctor (mistake no 1), and after four weeks of withdrawals (SSRI’s are not to be stopped cold turkey, it’s like coming off heroin), and a week of “doing well”, the waves of life took a turn and life dealt us a little blow. I crashed. It wasn’t pretty.
I returned to my doctor, and we had a lengthy discussion about my meds and decided on a different brand and different dose, and I started again. This was after a lengthy conversation with a lady friend of mine that I trust and value said I should consider going back on my meds for my own sanity and safety.
So guys, people who give advice matter, if you have mental illness, and I’ve said this a thousand times, make sure you’re talking to SOMEONE, keep your life accountable so you don’t make silly decisions and when the storms of life hit (and they will hit), you are not alone trying to navigate the hard emotions and stay sane.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my clinical psychologist, it’s that old coping mechanisms don’t work long term. I am seeing it now, that what worked to help keep me motivated and upbeat during my 20’s doesn’t work now that I’m in my 40’s. There has to be a new strategy and that strategy includes chronic medication. My diagnosis is quite severe, so the possibility of coming off my meds any time soon (5 years) is slim to none. So if you can, book in with a medical professional, get a diagnosis so you know what you’re in for and can start coming to terms with the changes that need to happen to allow you to live a full life in spite of your mental illness.
Meds that help and doses.
I have been on my “new meds” for a month now, and I am doing MUCH better! Like, different person better. I have learned so much about pharmaceuticals over the last few months, it’s scary and it’s scary. What we put in our bodies on a daily basis, it’s frightening. That being said, I think I have found an anti depressant that works well for me, and I have been on it before during my last two pregnancies, so my body is familiar with it, and seems to respond well on it.
I can tell it’s different because I can still “feel” my emotions, they just don’t completely overwhelm me, I am able to acknowledge them and choose what to do with them. I can hear God’s voice and engage in times of worship where before I was numb to everything, and I had zero emotion, happy or sad. So now I can address my emotions in a similar way to a normal, healthy person, and decide what to do with them. I can take them captive (like the word says) and overcome them!
Spirit soul and body – I can’t leave Jesus out.
Because I am a believer, the bible says that we must bring all our worries to Jesus, and lay them at the foot of the cross, daily. I cannot be a good mother or a decent wife without Jesus or my meds. The daily challenge of spending time in the word and talking with God is crucial to everything I do, not just my mental health.
Jesus helps me be a better mother, a better wife, a good friend and hopefully a decent human being. Yes, I fail, I miss it, I say things I’m not supposed to, I have horrible attitudes and I’m mean too, but that’s the beauty of Grace, I can go to Jesus and repent and start again. I walk out my life daily with Him and He graces me to be more like Him daily
Relaxed into mothering
With all the change of meds and finally being able to connect God on an emotional level (not just intellectually with knowledge) has taken my mothering to a new level. I say this with caution though, because this definitely doesn’t mean I’ve made it or perfected anything in my mothering. It simply means that I am aware of my role as mother, and am willing to protect that role by not taking on hundreds of other projects or activities that take me away from being a present and available mother.
I have been a “performer” my whole life, always looking to “do things” to gain approval. I have finally found within myself the ability to say no, no to that need of gaining of approval in life, no to always looking for something fancy and a “job title” to make me important. I can be me, wife, mom and that’s enough. Everything else that I do above that is an added bonus. My identity lies in Jesus and the truth that He says about me – apple of his eye, the head and not the tail, conqueror in all things.
The last few weeks of job change, taking on more responsibility at the office and finding my new groove with my mental illness has brought about so much revelation, that it’s really difficult to put into writing without sounding all over the place, so I hope this made sense!
Please know that everyone’s journey with mental illness is unique, as is everyone’s journey with God. So take this as an encouragement, that things can get better, change is good and you’re going to make it.
Some more posts about my Anxiety and Depression journey:
- Supplementation for Depression
- The Acronym that saves my life
- Parenting with Depression and Anxiety
- Two Week Magnesium experiment results.