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Finding light out of darkness June 9, 2018

Posted by thejinx in life.
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Once again, mental health is on our collective consciousness. The reasoning is tragic, but I’m glad that it is, because sometimes, those still fighting need to hear that others are thinking about them, that there is help available. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain show us, once again, that depression doesn’t care how successful or inspiring one is. Even people who seem like they should have nothing to complain about can suffer from it, and I guarantee you that those so afflicted berate themselves for feeling so miserable.

We need to talk about it. We need to hear that there are so many people out there – friends, family, and strangers – who care and who want to see sufferers improve. We need to tell the un-afflicted that sometimes it’s not enough just to say you’re there, that you need to actively reach out when someone withdraws. And we need to share our stories, especially the stories of success, so that those in the deepest pits know that there is a way out.

With that in mind, I just wanted to add a few things to the conversation, based on my personal experience:

1. Get help if you’re hurting. You go to the doctor when you’re sick, so go when your mental health is suffering. Seems like a no-brainer, right? But there’s a wealth of reasons why the afflicted don’t seek help when they should. I waited entirely too long to seek help for my anxiety, probably mainly due to pride. But I’ve been on medication for a couple months now and it has made all the difference. And don’t be discouraged if it doesn’t immediately make a difference; I got lucky this time, but when I was fighting depression in high school, I went through at least half a dozen different medications before I found one that worked for me.

If you don’t have a family doctor or you live in the U.S. and don’t have health insurance, Google is your friend. Search for mental health resources; they are out there. You deserve to go through your life without hurting. The search may be exhausting but you are worth the effort. You would do this for someone else, wouldn’t you? So put in the work for yourself. Look for what you need to get better, whether that’s medication, therapy, support groups, or just getting out more.

2. If physically possible, get some exercise. I have neglected this one much more recently and managed to forget that it is a crucial part of my treatment. Medication alone just isn’t enough for me, and it’s an easy way to work on feeling better while working out other treatment options. You don’t need any special equipment to do it. Couch to 5K is a free smartphone app and is an easy, gradual way to start jogging. Wii Fit and dancing games can be done from the comfort of your home and offer rewards and incentives for continuing. Do twenty minutes of jumping jacks if you have to. I know that when you’re in the throes of depression it’s extremely hard to do, but force yourself to do it.

3. Repeat after me: it is okay to take care of yourself. This is something I frequently have to remind myself. It doesn’t matter how much I truly believe it, I still have to convince myself that I’m allowed to take a break from work. Your health, and your mental health, are a priority. So go ahead. Cancel that event if you have to. Buy that blended coffee drink. Take the long way home and take a drive out into the country. Go to that local attraction you’ve always wanted to see. Go to the movie theatre alone. You take care of you. I know it can be hard, particularly if you work retail (hat’s off to you folks), but sometimes you need it, and you definitely deserve it. Mentally ill people are some of the hardest working and most caring and giving of themselves, because they tend to be so concerned with others. You deserve a break, in whatever form that may take.

I was there. I remember those days, and occasionally still have them, when I feel worthless and unlovable and ugly and a waste of resources. Frankly, it hurts a little just to write those words. But I’ve been fighting it long enough and I’ve learned enough to know that it isn’t true. So if you don’t believe it yourself, then take it from me, someone’s who’s gone through it and (mostly) made it through to the other side:

You are worth the effort.

You deserve to be happy.

You are allowed to help yourself.

The world is better with you in it.

Your friends and many others want to see you feel better.

You are not alone.

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Let’s Talk January 25, 2017

Posted by thejinx in life, Uncategorized.
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I suffer from anxiety.

That’s one of the first times I’ve said that out loud.

Why is that? I don’t think I will be ostracized or maligned for admitting it. I don’t think I’ll be treated like I’m diseased or insane. I won’t be locked up or force-fed medication that will erase my personality.

The people I know won’t tell me to suck it up, or that I’m faking it, or that I’m just trying to get attention. They won’t tell me to just get over it, or try to convince me that other people have it worse and I have no reason to complain. They won’t belittle me or try to cut me out of their lives.

I won’t be made to feel that I somehow failed as a person. I won’t be made to feel like getting over it is as easy as just thinking positive thoughts. I won’t be made to feel like this struggle is trivial or invalid. I won’t be made to feel like I’m not allowed to show it, or that showing it means I’m weak.

So why has just admitting it been so hard if I don’t have any of these struggles?

Because these things have happened, and that’s where the stigma of mental illness comes from. Even though I’ve never experienced such reactions, years—decades—of such responses have created an unconscious reflex to keep it to myself. People who cannot and will not understand what it’s like to live with mental illness have dictated how people who do will look at it, even to themselves.

So let’s put the dialogue in the command of people who actually suffer from it.

My name is Catherine Fitzsimmons and I suffer from anxiety. I can’t control it, it impacts my daily life, and I am not ashamed of it.