For me, one of the best writing prompts around is the National Day Calendar. Whenever I feel like I have nothing left to write, this calendar gives me a whole new bucket to dive into and countless ideas for future posts. For instance, National Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Day was on Monday. I could go on and on about how chocolate-covered pretzels–specifically white chocolate-covered ones–are one of my favorite things. They made the perfect gift to bring to the hospital after I had my two children. While other friends and family brought cute stuffed animals and cheerful balloons, my sister delivered the goods.
Clearly, I still appreciate the gesture.
So, what does any of this have to do with the title of my post? It turns out that today is another important day to consider–World Mental Health Day. First celebrated in 1992, this day is dedicated to raising awareness and reducing the stigma around mental health issues. Millions of Americans suffer from depression, anxiety, and other conditions that can prevent them from living their best lives. In honor of this day, I want to do what I can to reduce that stigma by sharing my story.
Several years ago, I couldn’t get through the day without crying. I thought this was some sort of post-partum syndrome, but since the baby was over a year old, my doctor told me that wasn’t likely. She prescribed me an anti-depressant, and initially, I balked at the suggestion. No way could I be depressed. Sure, I was tired, and I felt I couldn’t handle much of anything at the time. And then, I was upset at how tired I was and how I avoided daily tasks because I wasn’t feeling up to it. And after being drained and upset for so long, people started to take notice.
It took me two weeks to fill the prescription. I stared at the life-changing piece of paper every day and wondered what it would mean to take it. Was it a sign of weakness or an easy way out? Did I really need it? Wouldn’t this all eventually work itself out?
Finally, I figured it could only help, and within three days, I was thinking much more clearly. I had more energy. My appetite returned. No more crying or lashing out. I realized my doctor was right. I was suffering from clinical depression.
Since that day, I’ve come to learn that depression isn’t something you can talk yourself out of feeling and “get over it.” Once I accepted that this was a situation beyond my control, I felt much better about getting help.
So, why can’t people get past depression? Because it’s a serotonin imbalance in the brain. It’s a physical condition that, in essence, causes sadness, anger, low energy, reduced appetite, etc. I’ve gone off and then back on medication. Recently, I decided staying on a low-dose is a wise move. I’m not embarrassed. There is no stigma, especially when my life is so much better than before. In the process, I’ve learned coping strategies with the help of an excellent therapist, and the medicine keeps everything else in balance. This is what is right for me, and I have no regrets.
On this important day, if you or someone you love is struggling with any of these issues and box of white chocolate-covered pretzels doesn’t do the trick, talk to your doctor, fill the prescription, and get your life back.