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My $0.02 on the Mental Health Discussion

12 Aug

This is not something I wanted to talk about publicly just yet. I’m still working through stuff and I’m not sure what to share or how much to share or even if it’s worth sharing. But I do try to write about things that are going on in my own life as they relate to current events, and since the news of Robin Williams’ death yesterday, the whole internet has been buzzing with talk about mental health. So maybe I need to just throw this out there. Maybe there’s someone that needs the tiny bit of encouragement I have to offer.

I saw a counselor last week.

There. I said it. And it wasn’t all that hard to say, surprisingly. Perhaps because now that the first appointment has come and gone and it went really well, the whole concept of therapy isn’t quite as overwhelming. It was HARD to make the appointment and it was EXCRUCIATING waiting for the appointment, which was only 2 days later. I was an anxious, nervous, nauseous mess.

But the appointment was good.

I recognize that my one appointment (so far) does not qualify me as an expert in all things related to mental health. Far from it! But while everyone is talking about mental health and depression and suicide, I want to throw my two cents in.

Mental health is not limited to depression. There are a whole bunch of other issues that could be plaguing you, and which could be beneficially addressed by a counselor or other mental health professional. Anxiety, guilt, fear, grief, anger – if you are dealing with any of these things on a consistent basis, to the point that you aren’t sure you’re coping well and you can’t really remember what it was like to not be dealing with it, it’s time to get some support.

Many of these feelings overlap and can easily be confused with depression, but I would suggest that the defining point is when you start to feel that you’re not worthy of getting help.  That is a lie. You are worthy of help and getting help is not as scary as you think it is.

Mental health is not limited to chemical imbalance. That is certainly a common factor, and it can often be treated somewhat easily with medication. But there are other factors to also consider: spirituality, personal history (abuse or other trauma), current crises (financial, relational, occupational…), or an overload of stress from the chaos of day-to-day life. If yours is a chemical problem and medication works for you, great! If it’s a chemical problem and you haven’t yet found the right balance of the right medication, keep trying!

If it’s not a chemical problem, keep talking it out with a therapist or counselor that hears you. Being truly heard will go a long way in helping you to sort out how you feel – which makes it easier to express how you feel and then be better heard. It’s a positive, healing cycle. But in order to find that right person who’s a good match for you, you have to be willing to ask for referrals. Ask friends. Ask a pastor or spiritual mentor. Ask your doctor.

Now let me tell you a tiny bit about my session. After explaining the situation that was (is) causing my anxiety and anger, the counselor validated my distress and walked me through some advice to address the cause. I truly expected that the focus would be on fixing my craziness, so it was a pleasant surprise to think that maybe there is hope for addressing the root cause instead of just letting that cause fester and giving me tools to cope with it better. That made me feel less crazy.

The counselor also asked me how this was affecting our marriage. I told her that my husband thinks I’m starting to lose it. “Are you?” she asked.

“Maybe,” I answered. “I don’t know. I think I’m on the verge of losing it, but I’m trying really hard to still be objective. But would I even know if I’ve already gone off the deep end? I know this isn’t me. I used to be strong and capable and optimistic… and right now I don’t know if I will ever be that person again. Does that mean I’ve lost it?”

Her answer was so freeing, it’s bringing me to tears just to reiterate it here. She said that I am still that person. I am strong. There is no strength in thinking you don’t have a breaking point. Everyone has a breaking point. Strength is recognizing that you have reached the breaking point and then getting help before you actually break.

I think that’s all I want to say about this right now. I may be able to share more eventually. But for today, I hope this has been helpful to someone.

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9 Comments

Posted by on August 12, 2014 in Adoption, Personal Growth

 

9 responses to “My $0.02 on the Mental Health Discussion

  1. janeh1037

    August 12, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    I will be praying for you….I have gone through depression several times in my life. Counseling has been a great help, as was medication. When you are ready to talk more about it, (if ever), you will know it is time. Blessings to you and your family.

     
  2. Linda Mack

    August 12, 2014 at 9:20 PM

    Dear Anita: Thanks for sharing your heart on your sleeve, as hard as it was. I am sorry you are struggling with stuff. We all seem to have to go through stuff and you are wise to recognize you are near a breaking point and reached out for help before it is too late. It is very sad that Robin and many like him think there is no other choice besides death. I have suffered and managed a mild form of depression my whole life on my own and now I realize who is behind mine, Satan, and I have to rebuke him almost daily with James 4:7. Ephesians 6:12 – For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground … As Christians, we are reluctant to share all our struggles and appear vulnerable to others and admit we don’t have it altogether. Talking it out is a good start and the listener may not have any answers but they are listening and that is very important. Take it to God first and I’m praying for you and the fam. Love and Prayers, Linda

     
    • janeh1037

      August 13, 2014 at 11:48 AM

      Linda, I appreciated your response. I also suffer from an ongoing milder form of depression.It really is milder, but it is also never-ending. The Lord does supply gifted people to help us, doesn’t He? Many blessings to all of us as we continue to fight the enemy.

       
  3. Barb. Vlasov

    August 13, 2014 at 9:04 AM

    Anita, I appreciate your honesty SO much! You are humble and courageous. Precious few in the Christian community will even speak of mental health. Seeking out a counsellor was smart. Finding one who listened was a God send. God bless !

     
  4. Sue Balfour

    August 13, 2014 at 9:22 AM

    Amen Anita. You said a mouth full and hit the nail right on the head.

    As Christians we need to be able to share the deep things in our hearts (and heads) and know that we are not going to be condemned for them but that there is help out there. The woman I work with is a counsellor (Christian) and we see more & more women coming with mental health issues that are not stemming from depression but all of the different things you suggested and really the help comes when the root cause can be discovered and pulled up and out, the lies (of the enemy) replaced with the truth of what Jesus says and then the healing comes.
    We are all worthy of help and Jesus has come so we can have this.

    You Anita are worthy! God Bless you as you press in to Him and receive your healing!

     
  5. Clara Culp

    August 13, 2014 at 9:28 AM

    Dear, dear Anita, you are such a treasure. Thanks for sharing. And yes, this has already helped me. And your willingness to share will help you sweet friend. I love you Anita!

     
  6. melanie1971

    August 13, 2014 at 2:11 PM

    You are still that woman. Even amid, and in spite of, the barrage coming at you, you continue to push your way out from under it as God lifts and brushes off the debris. You’ve also been entrusted with a very large trial that many will never have to experience or understand. Take heart. I join your Father in cheering for you as you run the race. I like this: “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body.” 2 Cor 4:8-10 Much love!

     
  7. mymotherstable

    August 20, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    It’s never too late to seek help, whatever form that takes. Took me years of fear to seek help, but did. Best thing I could’ve done. Is it all fixed? Nope. But, it’s extremely freeing to learn that you don’t have to go it alone. I believe God has done a fine job anoiting human counselors to assist. The trick is to find the good ones. Thank you for revealing/sharing.

     
  8. Kathleen Irene Wells

    August 22, 2014 at 10:13 PM

    Just read this one. God Bless you, Anita, for sharing from “the heart”, (again). Seek “respite” whenever & wherever you can….. God IS faithful, & the time/ years go quickly (believe it or not). I will keep praying for you & your family, & supporting Mental Health issues wherever I can. Thank you!!!

     

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