Mental health is just as important as physical health

Mental health is physical health.

I preach that a lot on my social media because, simply put, it’s true.

At the risk of sounding educational and writing this like a school paper, I want to inform you of just a few things.

  1. Mental health is physical health. I said this already. Got it. But knowing this could help reduce the stigma surrounding mental health. There are still so many people that believe depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder, etc. are all made up and that people with those illnesses are crazy. And that’s another thing: stop calling people crazy that battle with mental illness. It’s not appropriate nor is it even remotely accurate.
  2. Mental illnesses are not only mental, they are physical as well. Ask anyone with an anxiety disorder. I’ll use myself as an example. I battle with pretty bad social anxiety. It keeps me from having a job like any other “normal” person. When I go out in public, I feel physical symptoms. It’s not just “Oh man I’m so nervous!” It’s also sweating, racing heart, and dizziness. That doesn’t even include the symptoms from a panic attack I may have.
  3. Depression can be fatal, just like any other physical illness. Yes for real. Suicide is not just something people do to “get out,” “get bailed out,” or do just for “attention.” I can promise you if someone dies by suicide, they suffered… bad. Suicide is the final symptom of depression, and some people never reach that final symptom, but that doesn’t mean they don’t suffer too. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen on social media, even on my friends list on Facebook, that people still believe that suicide is selfish and that the person that passed away “took the easy way out.” Come on. That’s not fair and it’s undermining the battle that the person fought literally on a daily basis.
  4. “You’re making it up to get out of doing (this) or (that). Just smile!” Okay… first, that’s just not that easy and you know it. Second… don’t you think if we could “just smile” and everything would be fine that we would have done it a long time ago? Depression takes away your energy. You have to make yourself do anything. So no… we’re not just “making it up” to get out of anything.

Think of it like this.

There are people in the hospital with cancer and they of course are getting the help they need. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not taking ANYTHING away from anyone and their battle with cancer and chemo. But just like you can see cancer on an MRI or PET scan, you can also see depression in an fMRI or PET scan. The scan can pick up abnormalities or different brain activity in someone with depression compared to someone without depression.

princ_rm_pet_scan_of_depressed_brain

People with cancer go to the hospital to get treated, and so do people with broken bones. It doesn’t matter what the problem is, to the person battling with it, it’s big to them (Again, I know cancer is a major problem compared to a broken bone, I’m just using a broken bone for the example). Just because depression is “invisible” to other people (because as we know, depression shows physical symptoms as well), does not mean you don’t deserve the help, whether it be with therapy, medication, or even ecotherapy. Broken bones heal and they’re good to go after a month or two. But unfortunately, mental illness is an ongoing disease.

Please stop thinking depression or any other mental illness is not as important as physical health, but it is physical health. The brain and the body should not be categorized into two totally separate types of healthcare. Mental health is physical health and physical health is healthcare. Healthcare is healthcare.

The World Health Organization defines health as a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

There is no health without mental health.

 

These Shoes

These shoes have taken me to the place where I would get the diagnoses that would change my life. They have taken me to the place where I have met people that didn’t want the best for me; they wanted to take advantage of me, to see me fail.

These shoes have taken me to places I never want to go again. They have taken me to places where I’ve felt pain, where I’ve felt anxiety, where I’ve felt stuck.

These shoes have taken me to places where I would have to share my feelings with complete strangers and hope that they didn’t judge me. They have taken me to places where I’ve waited and waited to feel whole again, to feel something, anything at all.

But…

These shoes have taken me to places that I recover and try my best to feel significant. They have taken me to the place where I can speak my soul and help it to heal. They have taken me to the place where I can feel free, where I can feel whole, where I can feel human.

People can judge us. They can slander our name. They can look down on us because we’re different than them… but they can’t take our soul. They can’t take our voice. They don’t know our lives or how we live, why we do the things we do. What we have fought for up until this very moment.

These shoes are dirty, beat down, worn out… but nobody can take away what they’ve been through. What I have been through.

Keep fighting for you and I’ll keep fighting for me.

Just Because I Don’t Work Doesn’t Mean I’m Lazy

Just because I don’t work doesn’t mean I’m lazy.

It’s difficult for me to talk about this, but I feel transparency with my readers and honesty with myself requires me to talk about it.

I haven’t worked in almost 5 1/2 years. If you’ve been reading my blog for the past 5 years, you know I battle with MDD (major depressive disorder), social anxiety, and a few other things. When I was diagnosed in 2014, it was at a mental hospital where I stayed for 7 days. I had a mental breakdown. I tried to die by suicide. I was ready to either die or to leave and never look back.

I wasn’t able to go back to work. I was in therapy 5 days a week for 5 hours a day. Even if I wanted to go back to work, I couldn’t. I decided applying for Social Security Disability benefits would be my best bet. People told me it would take months, maybe even a year or two before I would be approved. They told me it would take more than one try. I was discouraged by that, but I applied anyway. I got approved the first time.

From that time until even today, I feel guilty because I don’t work. There are days when I’m exhausted and don’t do anything except watch a movie on Netflix or walk the dogs, and it makes me feel extremely guilty. It makes me feel lazy. It makes me feel ashamed. I’m 29 years old and I still live with parents because I can’t afford to live on my own, and even if I could, I would be terrified to live by myself.

As I type this, I realize I am basically explaining myself, but deep down I know I don’t have to. If I could work, I would. Those that don’t know my story might view me as lazy, but that’s just it…

They don’t know my story. I do not have to explain myself. What people think about me does not determine my worth.

I constantly have to remind myself of those things. From my point of view, I have a reason I don’t have a job. A legit reason. But my anxiety tells me that people judge me and think I’m lazy just because I happen to be a millennial, and millennials are apparently notoriously lazy.

Believe it or not, depression is the second most common medical condition listed on Social Security disability applications.

I know what you’re saying… “Those people just need to suck it up and go to work.” It’s not that simple. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to be able to tell you how not simple it really is. Mental health awareness has truly come a long way in recent years. People are starting to realize that depression is not just this made up thing that people make up to have an excuse for not being able to handle something, for crying unexpectedly, not being able to get out of bed, etc.

Truly people would not choose to have depression if they had a choice. I definitely would not. I want to be normal. I want to feel normal. I want to be a stereotypical hardworking American. But I can’t. I’ve tried. And that’s okay. I don’t have to feel guilty for not being able to work. I have a steady monthly income, I help my parents around the house, I do odd jobs (like dog sitting for friends) to have a small extra income, I go to therapy every week… ah, here I am explaining myself again.

If you struggle with a mental illness and you come to terms with the fact that maybe you’re one of those people that just can’t seem to find a job and hold on to it because of depression and/or anxiety, don’t feel bad. You’re not the only one. And it’s not your fault. Just do me a favor and stay in therapy (most of the time its required to be approved for disability benefits for a mental illness)… it’s such an amazing service and tool for you to have. Take advantage of it.

Just because I don’t work doesn’t mean I’m lazy.