Happy Wednesday, friends! Another day in the lovely Shattering Stigmas event where I get to share incredible, heartfelt blog posts about mental health. In case you missed it, Shattering Stigmas is an event that will take place from October 6th to October 20th here on Drizzle & Hurricane Books.
Three years ago, Shannon @ It Starts at Midnight launched the first Shattering Stigmas, a blogging event dedicated to posts about mental illness to address and challenge the stigmas against it. Through book reviews, discussion posts and lists, Shattering Stigmas has continued conversations around mental illness for the past three years.
You can also enter our INTERNATIONAL (Book Depository) giveaway! TWO winners will be able to win the Mental Health book of their choice at the end of this event. Don’t forget to ENTER HERE!
Today, I am lending my platform to the lovely Epsita, who will be talking about depression, her very own journey and share some important advice just as well. Give her a very warm welcome and feel free to share your thoughts in comments. I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.
Trigger warnings: This blog post is talking about suicide and depression.
Circa 2005. A young girl aged 13 years is reading a newspaper and comes across a headline stating, “X commits suicide”. She shakes her head in disbelief. How could someone do this? She wonders aloud. It is so sad, she thinks. She moves on to the next article, her young mind unable to process what she just read.
Circa 2013. A 20-year old woman sits in her room, crying her eyes out, the thought of having made a blunder on that day at work bearing down on her. She’s thinking about how her co-worker might judge her. Soon her thoughts spiral out of control, as she begins thinking of all the times she’s messed up in her life, of what a total waste of space she is, how unloved and unwanted she is, and on and on.
As you may have guessed, I am the girl in both the above situations. In a curious twist of fate, I experienced (and continue to do so to a lesser degree) something that I had failed to wrap my head around as a kid. It has been 6 years since I was officially diagnosed with depression. A lot has occurred in these 6 years. I have learned many lessons. I have had relapses. It has been an uphill journey. Reaching out for help(in this case telling my mother about my depression), then searching for doctors, booking appointments with them, opening up to them about my negative and suicidal thoughts, none of them have been easy. It has been taxing, both mentally and physically. But let me tell you, it has been worth it. Honestly, I didn’t think I would survive to see this day. But I did. And I couldn’t be happier.
Also, let me tell you, I am still “a work in progress”. I am better than before when it comes to my mental health, but my recovery is far from over. Recovery, I have learned, is something you have to put a daily effort in. Here are some lessons I have learned throughout my journey and I hope you can find something to relate to:
1. Do not hesitate to ask for help
This is the most important one. It’s the first step towards recovery, after all. Reaching out for help is not going to be easy, I can vouch for that from my own personal experience, but it is worth it. You may think you are alone, that no one will understand how you are feeling, but that’s incorrect. There are others out there who are dealing with the same issues as you are. Don’t listen to the part of your brain which tells you that going to a doctor won’t help. Listen to your inner voice, the voice which is telling you that there is a way out of the mess your mind is in, that you can get better. Because you will. Open up to your loved ones, be it a friend or a family, or even a school counselor. Book an appointment with a psychiatrist or a therapist. Don’t hesitate in reaching out. Let go of the fear of the judgment of society. Society is mostly composed of ignorant people who have little to no useful advice but plenty of blabbers.
2. Recovery will take time-Be Patient.
You won’t get miraculously well in a fortnight. I used to harbor this misconception for quite a while, the fantasy that I would suddenly wake up one day, with my depression and anxiety disappeared. That didn’t happen, of course. Illnesses, be it mental or physical, do not suddenly vanish in the thin air one day. Recovery takes time. It may be interspersed with relapses. You will have to put in a lot of effort. It is said that nothing worth having comes easy. It’s the same case with a mental illness. You may wish to do nothing and lie in bed all day because your mind and body are tired, but you will have to force yourself to get up and do something, even if it is a task as simple as brushing your teeth. But your efforts won’t be in vain. Every step counts. So take a step, even it is small, towards progress, every day.
3. Don’t lie to your doctor.
Maybe you are not ready yet to tell your doctor all the reasons that upset you, all the negative thoughts which overwhelm you. That’s fine. But please, don’t lie to them. Don’t tell them you are fine when you are not. Because they are there to help you. so listen to their advice. Don’t dismiss them. If you do so, you will be an obstacle in your own recovery.
3. Do Not be afraid of medication.
This is so important. I have seen people, who suffer from depression themselves, tell others that they don’t want to “go down that path”, the path where they may have to take meds. There is such a huge stigma around taking medicines for mental illnesses. As someone who takes medicines, I can guarantee you that it works. Simply put, a disease may need medicines for it to be cured. Sure, in the case of a mental illness, it may be not the only answer, and it may not be needed by everyone, and therapy works just as well, but the stigma around medication needs to be dispelled. As cancer, or a fever, need meds for the body to get better, so does depression, anxiety etc. may need meds to make the mind better.
4. Practice self-care every day.
Take care of yourself every day, especially when you least feel like it. Go to bed early and get a good sleep at night. Meditate. Dress in brighter colors. Pay attention to little things, like the beauty of nature. Read positive quotes.
These are not an alternative to medical treatment, but something you should practice alongside it.
In the end, I would just like to add that in order to shatter the stigma surrounding mental illnesses, we need to treat both mental and physical illnesses at par with each other. The brain is an organ of the body, and just as any other organ of the body needs medical treatment to get cured, so does the brain, and there ought not to be any shame in it. We need to spread awareness by people sharing their personal experiences of battling mental illnesses, so the world is informed of the commonality of the illnesses and that having a mental illness doesn’t make you “insane”. Just like the LGBTQ community, we need people to come out of the closet too when it comes to sharing their mental illnesses.
We need to remember that mental illness is a defect in chemistry, not character.