Mental Illness Storm Of The Century

In the past week, a storm of unprecedented dark blew into town, one so intense it threatened to untangle all the therapeutic work that I have worked so hard to establish. Perhaps what is most frightening is I haven’t a clue as to its origins and because I was caught off guard, I was hit by all its might.

Being ill-equipped to handle its ferocity made the pain it inflicted ten times worse than normal. Everything I tried to do to minimize its effects was in vain, and its tragic consequence was the damage it left in its wake. 
I don’t recall ever feeling a depressive episode to the degree in which I have the last few days, its day number three and even as I write this; I am feeling waves of sadness wash over me from the inside. When I am left in this state I secretly fear that this is the one, the episode where my persistent depressive disorder takes hold of me, suppresses all my happy and like a dictator, it forces me to do whatever it is it wants me to do.
This episode was different somehow, I can’t put my finger on why all I do know is that the behaviours that resulted from the intensity of the depressive symptoms were very uncharacteristic for me. I had gotten it in my head that I was going to travel some distance to visit a friend that I seldom see. I know, what’s so out of the norm for that? Well, I hate driving to places where I am unfamiliar, my anxiety hates that particular form of unpredictability and conjures up its own mental GPS map, one that sees me getting lost and stranded by myself.
What made this behaviour new for me was that it was spontaneous and without explanation. I just found myself turning onto the highway that led me in my friend’s direction. I drove for an hour then in the blink of an eye I changed my mind and headed for home. What made me decide to act so impulsively? I have never been to my friends for a visit much less to the area in which he lives. 
Perhaps it was because I was so despondent, so racketed with sadness that I was looking for a way to rid myself of its heavy burden. I also spent the day ignoring the buzzing notifications of my cell phone which I admit is a very not like me thing to do. I didn’t care and hated everything around me.
These days were the ones I should have spent at home.

Although this depressive episode was among the most intense I had ever experienced, I choose to see it much like weather patterns in the real world. Every now and then we are walloped with one hell of a storm, one that is rarely seen but causes unprecedented damage. But like any other storm, they pass and so too will this unrepresented sad. Knowing this as a fact I simply hunker down and wait for it to pass. I am always aware of how lucky I am, I have a great support network and so much to be grateful for. It is in the hardest of mental moments where I run through my inventory of all the things I am grateful for. This does two things for me, It boots my moods by remembering that I have so many great people in my life who genuinely love and show concern for me, and it also distracts my mind from all the massively unpleasant thoughts and feelings. I find this calms the storms to the degree where I am adequately able to weather its effects. 

So if you, like me, end up facing the mental storm of the century, remember as the weather around you, it too shall pass. Just hang on and be mindful of the fact that we all have a reason to keep carrying on.

Learn about Major Depressive Disorder here: WebMD

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You may also enjoy: I am vulnerable: I’m good with that.

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At The Psychologist’s Office

Arriving early because my anxiety wouldn’t have it any other way, I think to myself saying, “I DO NOT want to talk to the psychologist today, I’m just going to sit there and have a nap.” After imagining how silly that would make me look; I grab the keys from the ignition and yank the door handle, I very reluctantly drag my ass to the office. The office administrator is at her desk and all I can think is, “great I’m going to have to talk to them.” I keep the conversation to an absolute minimum, trying to seem busy on my phone. Just as I start writing this blog post in an attempt to avoid contact with her, I get called in. I loathe this afternoon, the bed is all I can and want to think about.

The psychologist notices right away that I am not at all in good form, and she relays her hunch to me and says something to the effect of, ” It looks like a day when you just needed to stay home.” Her suspicion was spot on. I immediately confirm it with her. The rest of the session was centred around mitigating my nightmares from PTSD. Which, to my surprise, I was an active, yet spaced out and not all that present participant. Despite feeling like someone was trying their best to pull me straight through freshly made jello, some progress was made and I now have even more tools in my repertoire that I plan to put into practice tonight.

For help on managing PTSD Click here: Ways to manage your PTSD-symptoms – verywellmind.com

Now I am on the other side of the psychologist’s appointment and am once again in the safety of my home. I am now experiencing a great sense of relief as I no longer am obligated to go beyond my front door again today, and after I conclude this blog entry, (which is mentally painful by the way)…LOL! I plan to melt into my sofa and shut the world off. When I need to rest, I do so and do so without shame, and most times, without guilt either. Pushing yourself when defeated and exhausted is very counterproductive to the mental wellness journey in my experience.

Although wading through the muck today was monumentally difficult and extremely taxing on my mind, I did it! I’m proud that I was able to overcome my interior adversity and do what I have to make my way towards mental wellness once more. I see it like this: If one must have life-saving surgery they will jump through hoops and face great pain and discomfort, all in an effort to do what it takes to live. Sadly and sometimes tragically, we often remain idle when we are mentally ill. Even though just as dire in many cases, we allow fear and denial to win us over and surrender to its overwhelming powers; almost as though it’s the natural response to a mental health emergency. Why though? We all know and understand just how deadly ignoring it can be. Why then is it not seen in the same light as a physical medical emergency? Injury is injury and pain is a pain, the ultimate consequence for ignoring both is the exact same!

So you see, I had little choice but to go to my mental wellness professional and attend to my very serious and very painful condition. I cannot and must not give in to the ills that plague me. I want to work and be productive, I desire a happier life and I have so many loved ones whom I want to see reach their full potential, share the holidays with them, and make beautiful memories as a result. I am very proud of the baby steps I have been making, progress is progress after all. Yes, it’s tough, no I don’t necessarily want to get up every day from another sleepless night and fight but dammit I’m gonna.

Be assured that you too can win the day and have your life back, one small step at a time. We all hide behind a smile and the phrase “I’m good!” when asked how we are, and we all make our internal battles a private affair, but what we ought to be doing is banding together to form a vast support network for healing. We might be better served if we start helping the not afflicted to better understand that the struggles we face are real, that we hurt and are in need of their compassion and kindness. We also need to give ourselves permission to acknowledge how serious our situation is and how much worse it can get without proper intervention.

There are people out there who know your pain, who are willing to try to understand and walk the rocky road beside you. Allow them to be the support you need, your pride and your fear be damned.

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Email: johnnixona@gmail.com

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