Call me crazy because only crazy people seek help from a psychiatrist right?
The reality is it’s crazy not to get professional help!
As I sit here and think about what’s going on at the moment in the world and in our country, I’m reminded of how little our country acknowledges mental health or the encouragement of overall mental wellness.
Years ago I suffered from postpartum depression and it took me six months to get the help I needed. I distanced myself from friends and family and I didn’t tell anyone how depressed I really was. One day I almost jumped off of a high-story building thinking that if I ended it all I wouldn’t feel the pain any more.
Last year Dorian hit and I lost my business, home and my way of life. I was left in shock wondering how I would get over the devastation. Our family had so many plans but this storm crushed all of them. I quickly made an appointment and discussed how I was feeling with a psychiatrist. I didn’t want to wait and go through the trauma I went through years before in silence. These feelings had to be expressed, I had to let them out so that I could begin to heal.
It wasn’t a quick fix and I certainly didn’t expect it to be. We worked for years to build a lifestyle for our family that allowed us to live more freely while making a living. It broke my heart when we lost it all. However I quickly realized that what I still had was more important than what I had lost and that was my family, my health and time to heal and rebuild.
Then COVID-19 came out of nowhere, bringing with it an all too familiar fear; the fear of uncertainty and the sudden reality of our rebuilding efforts coming to a complete stop. This feelings took me back to the horror of Dorian. I quickly found ways to limit these negative thoughts and feelings by focusing on positive things that would promote my mental health by decreasing fear, anxiety and depression.
I focused on the new challenges I faced, homeschooling my kids and working from home; our new norm. While homeschooling proved to be difficult since I’m not a teacher, it gave me a healthy way to focus on my family and not on my negative thoughts.
If you know anyone that is battling with mental health I encourage you to show empathy, consideration and care towards them. Someone told me the other day that we are all in the same boat but I have to say that we are NOT! People that suffer from mental illness are having an even harder time navigating through this pandemic. They are having more panic attacks, feeling more anxious and some are in deep depression. We may all be in a boat but some boats are calm and others are enjoying the downtime. Then there are those whose boats are sinking because its filled with fear, pressure and great uncertainty.
If this is your boat I would like to offer these tips that have worked for me:
1. Take Care of your body with food and exercise.
2. Surround yourself with supportive friends and family. Limit contact with those that are negative and unsupportive.
3. Share your feelings with the family members and friends that you know support you.
4. Continue to do the things you enjoy, it will help with your overall wellness (gardening, writing, creating, dancing etc..)
5. Seek a mental health professional to help manage your anxiety, depression or panic attacks.
6. Remember to have faith, hope and patience. Healing takes time but it is worth it.
As I reflect, I realize that it will take time for me to heal, and that is okay. By getting help from a mental health professional, being open and honest about my feelings, exercising and spending time with family and friends (via video chat), I’m positive that I will find and maintain a healthy balance during these unpredictable times. It is my hope that you do the same.