May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and I feel the need to be open and honest about something I was going through. walkingthroughlifeaswomen.com is the perfect platform to reach women about issues, and I need to use it whenever possible.
I wish I could say that the above statement is true. For years, I denied the fact that I was taking anti-depressants for anxiety. Paxil was prescribed to me many years ago to help with my migraines, but the reality is the drug has helped me maintain a much more even-tempered personality. I, however, did not truly understand this until recently when, after two years of dosing down and then eventually going off, I was feeling miserable. I couldn’t explain the feeling of distance from my usual self. Simple work issues would make me feel like I wanted to jump out of my skin. Nothing felt exciting. I didn’t have the same energy or zest for life. I seemed to cry over everything. Then the next minute, I was fine.
I started to reflect on my life. I knew I had been through some crazy things, and the present wasn’t near as bad. Quite the opposite over the last several years, things were good for the most part. Even after living through this pandemic and being out of work for several months, I still considered myself to be in a good place. I had been through worse. So, why was I feeling like this?
I considered that it had something to do with my upcoming birthday? I would be turning 55 in a month, and I had felt like I have not made a big enough difference in the world. Had I chosen the right profession? Is it too late to do something different with my life? These thoughts swirled in my head, most of them have for a long time, but I managed them in the past. Why not now? Then it hit me that I am off my anti-depressants. And, even on the low dose that I was on at the end, it was enough to keep my emotions from dipping too low.
When you have this realization, you don’t want to admit you need “this” type of medication to stabilize yourself. At least I didn’t. I have always considered myself to be a strong person, level-headed, and able to deal with any situation and stay in control. I am the person people turn to when the shit hits the fan. I am calm, cool, and collected. Well, guess what, I wasn’t. Once the magic pill was out of my system, things got scary.
I called my doctor, and he agreed to put me back on medication. As the medicine did its job, I felt the heaviness of what I had been going through begin to ease. My mind began to quiet. I realized that even being an intuitive person, a yoga instructor that teaches people how to relax, breathe, meditate, and use affirmations, I still could not do it for myself. I still needed that extra help.
It took almost two full weeks before I started to feel like myself again. I began to feel calm and more relaxed. The tears didn’t come when the wind blew. I am able to manage my emotions easier, and things don’t seem out of my control. I have great friends that were concerned about me, and that I am ever so grateful for. I was in a rough place for a few months, but I was never so down that I wanted to harm myself or anyone else. I never sat in my house and refused to go outside. I knew that if I went out and hiked or worked out, that alone would make me feel better.
My friends knew this and would encourage me to get out if they saw me starting to shut down. Awareness is an integral part when dealing with mental health issues. Your friends and family must be willing to step up and be honest with their assessment of you, and you must be willing to listen. It is not easy to hear how your behavior is affecting you or the people around you. It is so important not to allow shame or judgment to get in the way of accepting help.
I am not an expert on mental health issues, but I found some startling facts from the following websites — https://adaa.org/understanding-anxiety, and https://nami.org/home
- Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
- Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
- People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
- Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
- 1 in 20 U.S. adults experience a severe mental illness each year, but more minor than two-thirds get treatment.
- 1 in 6 U.S. youth experience a mental health condition each year, but only half get treatment.
- 50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24
- Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34 and the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.
- The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35% since 1999
The mental health topic is becoming more mainstream. It is not the dirty word it once was. There are lots of resources out there. If you or anyone you know is affected by any mental health disorder, talk to someone. Do your research online. See your doctor. Most importantly, do not be embarrassed or feel any shame. Getting help is the most important thing you can do for yourself and your loved ones.
Please practice self-compassion! Remember, you are human, perfectly imperfect. Accept yourself in the present moment, just as you are.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read our blog. We appreciate your support.