May was Mental Health Awareness Month. Your mental health is something that you should think about whether you are formally diagnosed with a mental illness or not. Even those people with perfectly balanced brains have days where they feel down and not like themselves. I believe it’s important for everyone to do the (sometimes hard) work that comes with taking care of your mental health. I also believe it’s SO IMPORTANT for us to have these conversations publicly, with friends, with family, on the internet, so that we can stop the stigma that comes along with having a mental illness AND each gain some support along the way. I wanted to share a little about my mental health journey to close out Mental Health Awareness Month.
I was formally diagnosed with Clinical Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder at age 16. After about a year on a medication that did not end up working for me, I quit the meds cold turkey. During this time I also saw a counselor that my family found and I did not click with, so I thought I hated talk therapy and never went back. At such a formative age, this really shaped my view on treating my own mental health for a long time. I repressed it but it was always there, lurking. About 3 years ago, I recognized the worst of my symptoms coming back again and saw my Primary Care Physician to start the journey to feeling like my brain worked again.
After 10 years of thinking I had this managed (spoiler alert: I did not), it felt defeating to admit that I didn’t and that I needed help again. Taking that first step and letting the doctor know that I thought I needed anxiety medicine again was hard, but ultimately started the ball rolling on the rest of the journey. Since then I’ve been able to find a talk Therapist I love and click with, redefining my entire relationship with therapy. I’ve been able to find a Psychiatrist that works with me on my meds and dosages. Most of all, I’ve connected with others that also experience the same feelings and that helps me feel less alone in the whole journey that can sometimes feel like a battle.
Everyone’s journey will be different. I realize that I have the privilege of insurance and the income to sustain keeping me healthy. Unfortunately, not everyone has this same access to mental health care. I want to keep this mental health conversation going so over time I’ll be sharing some low-cost or free resources that have helped me manage my mental health in the past. In the meantime, please enjoy some free mental health reminder iPhone backgrounds! Use them on rough days and send them to friends on their rough days.