“Depression is an un-welcomed Journey taken by many and mastered by few.”
There is an epidemic of people who are suffering from mental and emotional instability. There are many that go undiagnosed or worst misdiagnosis. If you too have feeling of sadness, instability, radical mood changes, depression or lethargic and manic episodes this is for us.
Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or mental health professional. I have however read tons of literature and been in many a doctor’s office. More than anything I’m hoping my journey can help to encourage someone else to share theirs as we help to support one another. I care deeply about mental health and deal with the daily struggle of depression and anxiety. I want to share my coping mechanisms and provide a portal for advice that has helped me, although difficult, to have a successful marriage and career throughout my episodes of mania and depression.
At age 13 I was diagnosed with bipolar mania. My grandmother had severe mental illness, though I never knew what the actual diagnoses were. Growing up seeing my grandmother referred to as crazy and insane was a constant reminder that some of us were not right “upstairs”. I never looked down on people who were different or challenged because I saw it as a gift of sorts, but explaining how or why was impossible for a younger me. My grandmother was brilliant and a true genius in the arts and mathematics, a very kind hearted woman, but lived a very sad and abusive life. I always wondered if the abuse she’d endured had anything to do with the mental and emotional changes that followed. As I became accustomed to seeing many other family members and friends thoughout the years struggle with similar problems to varying degrees I begin to recognize a pattern.
In many cases people’s emotional development had been stunted or short circuited due traumatic experiences in their early childhood. Can you think back to a time in your childhood when there was a tragedy or trauma that deeply affected your life? In many case in could be an ongoing event that lasted for years and never allowed you to see things the way so called normal people do. How do we overcome the past trauma? How does the past event effect our present mental state?
Well to understand that we need to take a step back and consider how the mind works and develops under stress and trauma. We all have heard of ptsd and battered women syndrome. We also know the brain likes to repeat and recognize patterns. If we don’t successfully transition our pain, anger, fear, and/or sadness, those negative patterns create a chemical signature that can be triggered even unconsciously to repeat the pattern. Hence, displaced emotions and unbalanced brain chemistry. When we feel, we have thoughts about those feelings and in turn those thoughts create more feelings, those feelings create more chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, etc), and those chemicals continue to effect the way we think. You can see how very quickly this becomes a cycle that although predictable is amazingly difficult and for some impossible to change. The more intense the feelings, the more real the thoughts, and this can spin some people right off into dark places and more severe mental illnesses.
Understanding the process and the cycle of ups and downs and also anticipating the next step before it happens, helped me significantly. It was almost like a break in the code. It’s like I left myself a message to remind me to wake up and think differently despite the very real way I was feeling. I will discuss how to implant these safe paths in your journey soon. You may have a slightly different approach or experience but educating yourself on how the mind works and what triggers are a major part of coping with mental heath and mood disorders.
I completely understand that some people are certainly pass the point of self help and are in desperate need of aggressive treatment just to remain safe in society. For those extreme cases I can just say, treat everyone with love and kindness because the ultimate judge only looks at us for how we treated others. I have family members with mental or cognitive impairment and also autism, they do not fit into any of the descriptions we are discussing. I’m talking about functional adults without extreme learning and motor skill disabilities who struggle with depression, thoughts of suicide, anxiety, and debilitating emotional distresses. We are so quick in this society to pop a pill, but we haven’t taken the extra step to educate ourselves in the real potential root of our problem. Which may simply lie within our ability to recognize, respect, and rehabilitate our emotional mind through traumatic transitional periods.
J Cole said in a popular single, “you’re not crazy, you’re just ready to change.” Next up what I want to discuss is how to make that change and how to realize it.