By: Sheryl J. Families of those suffering from brain disease often do so in silence. I lost my 22-year-old son last year after he turned to street drugs to numb the symptoms of depression and anxiety. In order to give life to his memory and meaning to his life, I…
Within that framework, there is a danger that suicide becomes presented as a ‘selfish’ action, addiction as ‘indulgent’ and depression as ‘dramatic.’ We need more people who suffer with mental illness and addiction to tell their stories, if they are willing and able. We need the real narratives of mental illness and addiction to both challenge stigma and to impact the policy and public health approaches that are implemented.
It’s the first word that seems to come to mind when we are feeling that things are occurring too much, too fast, and / or too confusing to absorb and manage. We just simply say, we’re “stressed out”, “under stress”, or “too stressed” to handle it. When we are feeling such immense stress, we generally, and ultimately, don’t take the time to slow down to truly identify all that is happening in our minds, our bodies, and our spirit at those moments.
We now are seeing this open conversation take place about sexual assault. We are seeing things like #metoo. More people are talking. This is important. I will tell you one way I flourished among the chaos. You see for sixteen years I struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, but then one day I entered a phase of post-traumatic enlightenment. All those years of pain and darkness opened at first to a small glimmer and then a bright light.
“I focus on creating now, instead of destroying myself. My stitching gives me a reason to keep going, to keep fighting. I have to finish so many portraits,” she says of the benefits the stitching process provides for her mental health. “I start something to bring comfort to someone else and it ends up bringing comfort to myself. It’s like a circle. By helping others I’m helping myself.”“I focus on creating now, instead of destroying myself. My stitching gives me a reason to keep going, to keep fighting. I have to finish so many portraits,” she says of the benefits the stitching process provides for her mental health. “I start something to bring comfort to someone else and it ends up bringing comfort to myself. It’s like a circle. By helping others I’m helping myself.”
I hope I remember that SAD is deceiving, and that the things that seem least desirable to do are the things I need to do most. One of the major signs of depression, period, is the loss of interest in activities that normally bring you joy, and I need to remind myself that this is especially true when SAD strikes. I hope I remember to push myself to go to yoga; to go the extra mile to spend time with friends; to dress warmly and leave my apartment, even when it seems daunting.
I never stood up for myself though, instead I let the secret words that were spoken sink into my soul and feed my self-hate. That is how PTSD and depression are, they like a good meal. The main entrée was my hate towards myself and then the sides were the words of others, my plate became pretty full.
I don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t pay attention when they ask me how I’m doing. If it turns out that they’re not listening, I chalk it up to experience and move on. It can be frustrating to be misunderstood, but it’s not the end of the world. I can always try again.