Mental Health Awareness

Is it me or does life seem crazy lately? Is life crazy or is the world crazy? Are we all going mad?

This is a wild time to be alive. I wonder if people said that 30 years ago? 50 years? I’ve been thinking a lot this weekend. Thinking about the current state of the world, thinking about how much I need a new job, thinking about my generation and thinking about Chris Cornell’s suicide. 

Chris’s wife made a statement indicating that she thought his suicide was brought on by the anxiety medication he had been taking. Apparently Chris, like many of us, suffered with anxiety and depression. People who don’t suffer may think “why would someone who has it all want to take his own life?”. Chris Cornell was the frontman of a few successful bands, he had a wife, children, and probably everything he’s ever wanted. So why would he take his life?

Anxiety and depression do not discriminate. You can have it all and be surrounded with so much love and yet you still feel hollow, like something is missing. So what do you do? Hide it from those you love that love you. Put your smile on everyday and keep on going. You don’t want to let anyone down. You don’t want to let yourself down. You don’t want these horrible mental illnesses to get the best of you. So maybe you take medication.

As someone who has taken anti anxiety and depression meds, I can tell you they didn’t do much for me in terms of relieving me from anxiety or depression. Instead I received the side effects: upset stomach, weight loss, increased energy. Luckily, I didn’t get the suicidal thoughts or tendencies side effect. Perhaps Chris Cornell did. It’s a side effect of almost all of those medications, afterall.

People think that those who commit suicide are copping out – they’re not strong. They have no will power. If you have lived with anxiety or depression it is horrible. There’s no escaping it. Its like walking around with a plastic bag over your head, unable to breath but through a tiny pin hole in the bag. Your self worth tanks. You feel helpless and hopeless. You feel like a failure. The thought of not feeling the anxiety and depression that breaks you down everyday is euphoric. Some people get relief through medication, yoga, mediatation, therapy. Others suffer no matter what they try. I know how that feels because I have yet to find what works for me.

While I’ve never debated suicide, I’ve thought about what it would feel like to not have to be tortured by this everyday. If Chris’s medication is responsible for his suicide, how horrible that the very thing that he took to try and be better ended his life? What can we do different? I think we need to start with one thing: ending the stigma around mental illness.

Millions of people suffer with mental illness world wide. Many of us live among you everyday. We work, we own homes, we have families. We suffer in silence because we are afraid of being judged. We don’t want to be told what we can’t do. We don’t want to be treated differently. 

I may have OCD, GAD and depression and I may be a productive member of society but what if I couldn’t be? What if my mental illnesses didn’t allow me to walk among the people who didn’t have a mental illness and go undetected? Maybe I won’t always be able to.

If you are suffering in silence please talk to someone. There is help out there. You can do it without anyone knowing. You are worth it. The world needs you.

Let’s end the stigma ✊️.

“It’s time.”

“Ok, that’s it. I think it’s time that you see a Therapist…”. When he said the words my chest tightened and my eyes welled up with tears. How did I get to this point?

As my husband said those words to me I was disinfecting his phone as soon as he walked in the door. When I heard him pull into the garage I turned the water on in the kitchen sink so that it was warm when he walked into the house so that he could wash his hands right away before touching anything. I was sanitizing all of the door handles. I was sanitizing the kitchen faucet. I even sanitized the coffee cup that he brought into the house from a local coffee shop.

Truth is, I’ve been thinking the same thing lately. I realized that my OCD was getting worse when I started taking alternative routes to and from the ladies room at work so that I could wash my hands one extra time before getting back to my desk. I sanitize my hands after I touch anything. I had even gone as far as to sanitize the button and zipper on my pants because the thought of touching the stall door in the bathroom at work to lock it and then using the ladies room horrified me.

“You’re going to get sick, there’s no avoiding it.” “Hand sanitizer isn’t effective you know.” “You can’t live your life in fear like this.” Listen. To say things like that to someone who doesn’t have OCD and GAD it may be effective. You may be able to reason with them. There is no reasoning with me. If a study came out tomorrow that indicated that hand sanitizer didn’t kill germs I would still continue to use it.

This has affected my life in more ways that I could imagine. I avoid public places unless I absolutely need to go. I avoid children (not a kid person anyway but besides that they carry a host of germs). I avoid shaking hands if possible. I don’t touch door handles.I fear going out to eat because more than likely the kitchen in a restaurant is not up to my standards of cleanliness. When I look at things I can visualize the living organisms on them. I know this isn’t normal.

I’ve been to therapists before. Talking about my issues makes me really emotional because I feel unworthy, crazy, depressed, like I have no control over my thoughts and actions. Confronting the fact that you have mental health issues is never easy. Therapists have taught me anxiety coping mechanisms. They have also prescribed me drugs that have made my condition worse. I do not want to be medicated at this point and the thought of opening up about it is dreadful.

That night I had a major meltdown. I sobbed so hard I was hyperventilating. I didn’t feel worthy of love – although I know my husband is just trying to help, I understand his frustration. I couldn’t imagine being him in this situation. So I need to figure out what to do about it.

There are so many things going on in my life right now that are making me so anxious. There was a reorganization at work which has resulted in a lack of role clarity for me and a change in senior management which means more changes to come. I have a doctor’s appointment next week that I’m dreading during work hours. I have a coworker that isn’t speaking to me for reasons I do not know. I’m 20 lbs heavier than I would like to be and despite eating healthy and working out my weight isn’t budging. I have to somehow make it through a 12 hour flight (24 hours total) when I’ve become petrified of flying. I have to seal my countertops. I have to have some of the landscaping in front of my house re-done because large bushes and trees have died as a result of last years drought. My cats haven’t been to the vet in years and one of them has been peeing outside of the litter  box and the other has gained a substantial amount of weight and I think he may have diabetes (he gets diet food, I don’t know what else to do). My relationship with my Father is stressful. I fear the direction in which the country I live in is going – our President is a hot mess TV personality and doesn’t have a clue of what he is doing. The floors in my house need to be re-done. My bedroom needs to be painted. I need to sit through a 3 hour hair appointment and not freak out. I have to get blood work done every few months for a thyroid problem I have developed.

A normal person would read that and think it could be a lot worse. I agree. They may be thinking that’s not so bad – I do that all the time. So do I, but it keeps me up at night. It gives me high blood pressure. It gives me migraines. It depletes me of energy. It makes me tremble. It makes me cry. It makes me sick to my stomach. It makes me eat my feelings. Makes me unable to breathe. Makes me absolutely exhausted. 

Just needed to vent. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.