Communication and accessibility are basic human rights.
Will you join me in the fight for equality?
Will you join me in the fight for equality?
One of my goals for this blog is to start creating more content about mental illness. I have struggled with depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. It is amazing that in our current time, there is still such a stigma surrounding mental illness; It is still a taboo topic. I want to be a part of changing that. I want people to know that discussing mental illness is no different from discussing any other kind of illness. Mental illness is a real illness; it's not a bad character trait or a personality flaw.
One of the reasons that it can be challenging to raise awareness about mental illness is that these illnesses are usually invisible. Most people with mental illness "look healthy". You can't tell I have depression and anxiety by looking at me. Most people with mental illness have been told they don't "look sick" more times than they can count. The only way we can make mental illness visible is if we speak out about it. We have to stop hiding behind the stigma that society has created and refuse to be treated as second class citizens.
So, in this post I'm going to share 10 things that happen to me when I'm in a particularly bad depressive episode. My depression never goes away completely, but there are times when it gets worse. These are some of the things that happen during the worst episodes (this list is, by no means, exhaustive)
1. I am depressed.
This seems obvious, right? The problem is that many people don't understand what depression really means. Many people think it is the same as feeling sad when the reality is that sadness is just one fragment of depression. One of my biggest pet peeves is when people say "everyone gets depressed". That is not true. Everyone gets sad, but not everyone gets depressed. There are also differences between situational depression and clinical depression, but that topic will need a post of its own.
2. I am exhausted.
I'm pretty much always tired; that comes with the territory when you have major depression. But in particularly bad times, the fatigue gets even worse. It is overwhelming and anxiety-producing. Sometimes, l fear that I am literally going to fall asleep standing up.
3. I can't concentrate.
I have a hard time concentrating on just about anything. My daily Bible devotions, my job, blogging, reading a novel, etc. My mind wanders and usually produces thoughts that fill me with anxiety. I am too busy putting out those fires to have any head space left to concentrate on anything else.
4. I can't run simple errands.
Simple things like going to the store, the pharmacy, the post office, etc. seem impossible. I can't possibly get dressed and go out in public. What if I run into someone I know and I have to talk to them? Am I awake enough to drive? The list of thoughts surrounding going out for any reason is pretty much endless.
5. I cut back on, or stop, engaging in my hobbies.
I find myself reading less, blogging less, and practicing signing less, among other things. Partially because I can't concentrate on them and partially because, even when I do get engaged in them, they don't bring me the joy and satisfaction that they typically do.
6. I cut back on socializing--a lot.
Just like getting out of the house to run errands, the list of reasons my mind can come up with for not leaving the house to socialize is daunting. What if they get mad because you can't pay attention? What if you just start crying for no reason? What if you get sucked in and they you can't leave when you feel like you need to? Do people even want to be around you?
7.I am more irritable.
Things that normally wouldn't bother me make me incredibly anxious or angry. This is not only unpleasant for me, but for all those around me.
8. I don't cook for myself.
Breakfast for dinner happens a lot. Cereal, toaster waffles, etc. Pizza on a wrap that can be put in the toaster oven for 5 minutes is also on the menu frequently. I have zero motivation to cook a full, balanced meal.
9. I clean significantly less.
Just like with cooking, I have no motivation to clean my house. The mess will start to make me anxious, but I still feel I can't possibly get up and clean. And, cleaning and leaving the house on the same day? Forget it!
10. I feel guilty.
I feel guilty because of the burden I put on the people in my life when I'm in a bad depressive episode. I need a lot of help with things that I feel I shouldn't need help with, and that is an unpleasant feeling.
Do you struggle with mental illness? Are you a caregiver of someone with a mental illness? What do you wish people understood about your struggle?
I shared this post in the linky down below. Check it out to find some other blog pages that you might enjoy!
TRIGGER WARNING: This post deals with the topic of suicide.
Your Role in Suicide Prevention:
September is National Suicide Prevention Month, so I wanted to be sure to get at least one post in about how we all have a role in doing our best to prevent suicide. The stigma that surrounds suicide is enormous; it's a topic no one wants to talk about. However, not talking about it has serious consequences. The stigma is one of the biggest reasons that numerous people don't get the help they need and, consequently, die by suicide.
At this point, you may be wondering what role you could possibly have in suicide prevention. If you've never experienced suicidal thoughts or feelings yourself, never interacted with someone with suicidal tendencies, and you're not in the medical field, you may not feel equipped to offer any help. The best thing you can do at this point is to learn the signs.
The following signs that someone may be considering suicide are taken from the American Foundation for Suicide prevention:
What do you do if you think someone is considering suicide?
Most people are afraid to ask someone if they are considering suicide. This is totally understandable, for many reasons. It's not exactly an easy topic to bring up. And, you may be afraid of offending the person or making them feel even worse. However, studies have shown that asking someone if they are suicidal does not increase their risk of taking their life. On the contrary, it can actually lower it. Asking someone directly if they are suicidal is not always possible, but it's a very good place to start if it's feasible.
What do you do once you know (or think you know) someone is considering suicide?
So, if you ask someone if they are considering suicide and they say yes, what do you do then? Or, maybe the person didn't directly say yes, but you still think they are in danger. If the person is willing, you may be able to take them (or have someone else take them) to your local emergency room or call 911. If they are not willing to go this route, there are other resources that may seem less overwhelming and still help the person in crisis find options for treatment. It's a good idea to have these types of resources handy. You shouldn't handle this on your own; both you and the person in crisis need the help of trained professionals.
US National Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
People in crisis can call this number and talk with a trained professional that can offer them options for treatment.
Crisis Text Line: Text TALK to 741-741
For many people, texting someone is much less daunting than calling them. If the person in crisis is more comfortable texting, this is a great resource. They can text back and forth with a trained professional rather than talking on the phone. This resource is also very useful if the person in crisis has any type of disability that makes it impossible or difficult for them to speak and/or hear on the phone.
This isn't a fun topic to discuss, but it's an important one. So, I encourage all of you to learn the signs and know your resources, because you could end up saving a life!
Here’s a list of things I “should” do today:
Here's a list of things that will most likely occur today:
Sometimes, we have to put our "shoulds" off to the side for a time and give our bodies, our minds, and our spirits the rest that they need.
I’m weak today. It’s been a long, tiring week, physically and emotionally. But, this verse helps me to remember that, in my weakness, He is strong! So, here I am, admitting my weakness and praying for Christ’s power to rest on me today! I know that my weakness is covered in His grace, and for that I give God praise, glory, and honor!
Hopefully by next week, I’ll have my next post done. It is outlined, but it is an ASL post, so I need to film it, caption it, and get feedback from Deaf friends on it before posting it. ASL posts take a more time and effort, but I believe they’re important for me to include since the principles of this blog include acknowledging communication differences and creating accessibility. It’s important to me to expose my readers/viewers to sign language in order to promote awareness and sensitivity. So, stay tuned! God bless!