I’ve had a really rough time recently. I won’t go into the details, but I find more and more that I need something good to happen. I’m not talking about something grand and life changing, but something that I can be happy about for a while.
This has gotten me thinking about the nature of my mental health. It is incredibly important to acknowledge that staying mentally healthy is imperative, and there’s a lot of information out there about ways to improve your mood (etc).
Depression is something I’ve struggled with since I was a teenager. I was often overwhelmed and found the only way I could get any joy was to completely immerse myself in my art and music projects. This, in truth, is not the best way to treat the problem because I was not addressing the issues at hand. It’s a bit too late to do that now, but I still managed to “wait it out” until my life got better.
I had tried to talk to my mother once, but did it in the completely wrong way and ended up exacerbating things. For the longest time I thought I couldn’t talk to anyone as a result.
In college I had a roller coaster ride with my depression. There were plenty of times that I felt completely overwhelmed and unprepared. My husband, Joey, helped me though I never really spoke to him more than a handful of times about how I felt. After I graduated I had one life change after the other. I moved, had uncertainty, moved again, then had a kid.
I guess things haven’t really calmed down a great deal, but there are so many aspects of my life that I wouldn’t change. I love my daughter, I enjoy living in Cincinnati, and I am pursuing something that I could only ever hope for when I lived in Lafayette, Indiana.
Yet despite this I am still having issues with depression. Depression isn’t logical. It doesn’t care how great your life is. It doesn’t care that you got a new job, have a loving family, or seem to be having one amazing opportunity after another. It doesn’t care if you lost a loved one, had your car stolen or if you had a traumatic accident. It doesn’t care if you’re male or female. It affects all races and social classes. Depression is an asshole.
And so depression has come at me hard again. I have to force myself to get out of bed. I have to force myself to type this. To do everything that I have to do. I lack the motivation to eat (unlike in the past where I would scarf down junk food like it was nothing).
Since help is so expensive I’ve always had to figure out my own way to get past the large down-swings of depression. I’m going to start taking my daughter to preschool as motivation to not sleep until 11 am. I’m going to make lists of little things I can accomplish each day and not let the setbacks be so devastating.
I’m going to try hard not to spend the morning crying and feeling like shit. Because this is what I can do. This is what I can afford to do. I wish I could seek professional help but it is just too damn expensive and most insurance won’t even cover it at all.
According to NAMI 16 million Americans had a severe depressive episode in the last year. 16 million. I will take comfort, and you can to if you’re feeling it, in the fact that there are so many people who know what it’s like to be hit hard with depression.
Even though so many people are affected with mental illness, we don’t seem to be capable of treating it seriously. I wish with everything I can muster that the prevailing attitude about mental illness would change. For now I will make do.
We are human. We aren’t perfect. We can do this.